Community-driven Development

We support communities resisting destructive investment projects through community-driven development visioning, legal strategies, and technical support.

Across West Africa, traditional communities face environmental devastation and human rights violations as a result of an extractives-led development model that primarily benefits foreign investors and local elites.

ACA works with selected communities facing the environmental and human rights consequences of extractive activities.  We assist each community partner to articulate a sustainable future that fits with its unique vision, needs, and culture. We then work in partnership with other organizations and professional resources to provide to each community the information, capacity building, and legal and technical support to advocate for its chosen development trajectory.

We do this through:

  • Matching expert advisers with communities
  • Community-based development visioning
  • Trainings on negotiation and advocacy
  • Legal actions to clarify and strengthen community land rights
  • Connecting communities with their local government to promote accountability

Communities Become Decision Makers

ACA adapted the Facilitated Collective Action Process (FCAP), a community-driven development tool developed by Spark MicroGrants in Uganda, to focus on advocacy and community defense for mining-affected communities. We use the FCAP to guide communities as they propose and implement their own alternative development goals that will help them build a future free from harmful extractive projects. The FCAP lasts for 3 years in each community, combining facilitated meetings with capacity-building activities for financial and project management, and training on relevant topics such as land rights, advocacy, or decision-making institutions. Midway through the process, ACA provides a microgrant to the community to support implementation of the community’s chosen project. 

Communities lead every aspect of the FCAP. They set the project’s ground rules, elect their own leaders, and make every decision by themselves. Women are strongly encouraged and supported to participate in decision making, leading to more inclusive and participatory outcomes that reflect the will of the entire community. The FCAP is designed to increase social cohesion and fully equip communities to continue working towards their vision for the future in the long-term.

Impact

Through their weekly meetings and collective action planning, ACA’s partner communities have healed internal political divides, reached out across ethnic lines to build a unified vision, and prioritized the development goals of women for the first time. One community found the courage to resist intimidation and trickery by a traditional chief who tried to expel them from their land, while another began building its own infrastructure projects without waiting for local governments to make the first move. Four communities stood together to resist the Ghana National Petroleum Company when it tried to conduct seismic testing on their land. These examples of unification, strengthening, and inclusivity will give the communities long-term capacity to resist destructive forces and pursue their chosen development pathways.

FCAP supports Community Driven Development

ACA began its community-driven development work in 2017 in Ghana, partnering with four communities in the Nkoranza South District and helping them continue resisting large-scale gold mining by advocating for a better future that they chose themselves. ACA expanded in 2018 to partner with three additional communities struggling against mining operations in the Fanteakwa South district: Segyemase, Nsuapemso, and Juaso.

ACA further adapted the FCAP microgrants model in 2020 to pilot individual livelihood projects for mining-affected women in Sierra Leone that are the first step in their community’s vision of development. ACA facilitates start-up grants and technical experts to support women to design and expand their own small businesses that will contribute sustainably to their community’s long-term economic development, create pathways to financial independence for women, and advance leadership opportunities for women and girls.

 

 

Making Governments Listen to Community Aspirations

Our community partners have successfully advocated to local and national government bodies to recognize and support their development goals and enforce mining regulations that are designed to protect their human rights. As part of the advocacy element of the FCAP, each community creates a Vision Board that identifies five priority goals, and potential projects that would help achieve each goal. The community identifies stakeholders who may support or oppose their goals, and uses this mapping to develop effective advocacy strategies. Local governments have adopted elements of communities’ vision and FCAP strategy into their standard practice. In Nkoranza South, the Municipal Assembly adopted goals from the community’s Vision Board into its Medium-Term Plan – a first in Brong Ahafo Region and possibly in all of Ghana. In 2022 in Fanteakwa South, the District Assembly agreed to support FCAP projects in all 34 of its towns, providing 40% of every microgrant while ACA provides the remainder. Institutional support will bring more communities the tools and resources to act on their own development visions, building a wider and stronger advocacy base for community-led development across the region.

Communities Choose How to Use Their Microgrants

ACA typically gives microgrants of 9,000 USD to support each of the communities’ development visions. Each community uses its grant – along with their own cash and in-kind contributions – to implement a project that will help them achieve the development goals they chose through the FCAP process.

 

Kyeredeso – a community of 1,500 – built a health center, which will reduce rampant infant mortality and improve the health of the community in general. The clinic has electricity and running water which allows the clinic to run 24/7.

Nwoase – a community of 800 – built teachers’ quarters so children can receive consistent education in their home village. With teachers now housed right in Nwoase, it is easier to hold classes there and parents no longer have to send their children to board in other villages.

Salamkrom – a community of 1,200 – built health workers’ accommodations. Salamkrom had a health center , but without living quarters, there were no doctors or nurses to operate it for 8 years. Now that health workers are lodged in high-quality bungalows, the Ghana Health Service has upgraded the clinic’s status and assigned it to host a nurses’ training program.

Donkro Nkwanta – a community of 6,000+ – built a community center to host town halls and recreation activities, and serve as a rentable event space that will generate income to allow the community to fund future development projects. Donkro Nkwanta received a double grant to match the large scale of its project and population. 

Segyemase – a community of 4,000 – is building a health clinic. The community currently travels more than a mile on a main road to receive medical care, which is dangerous for residents without access to vehicles, especially after dark. The new clinic will remove the need to travel for medical care, which will significantly improve access to health care for pregnant women and the elderly.The clinic will also charge 5 cedis per visit which will go directly into the community’s FCAP bank account to fund future development projects
Nsuapemso – a community of 1,000 – is building a health clinic to improve access to high quality health care in the village. The clinic will charge 5 cedis per visit which will go directly into the community’s FCAP bank account to fund future development projects.

Juaso – a community of 1,500 – is building a factory to produce luxurious black soap. As a community of mostly cocoa farmers, the project capitalizes on the community’s access to cocoa tree leaves, which are a key ingredient in black soap. Juaso has partnered with a Ghanaian black soap company to learn how to produce a high-quality product that will provide a sustainable, alternative source of income.

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