Community-driven Development.We support communities that are 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 will assist each community partner to articulate a sustainable future that fits with its unique vision, needs, and culture. Then we will 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 the following activities:
- Matching expert advisers with communities
- Community-based development visioning
- Trainings on negotiation and advocacy
- Legal actions to clarify and strengthen community land rights
- Linking communities with their local government to promote accountability
Community-Driven Development in Donkro Nkwanta
ACA is helping four Ghanaian communities maintain their resistance against large-scale gold mining by advocating for a better future that they themselves have chosen.
In April 2017, ACA and the villages of Donkro Nkwanta, Salamkrom, Nwoase, and Kyeredeso – all in the Nkoranza South Municipal Assembly of the Brong Ahafo Region – agreed to work together to pursue alternative development pathways and advocacy strategies that would keep the villages safe from the threat of mining. These communities had successfully fought off an industrial gold mining project by Newmont Mining in 2011, but they still felt vulnerable to the future threat of extractives-led development. Over the course of discussions with ACA, community members disclosed that they no longer felt unified, that there were divisions between settler populations and the indigenous people, that women felt marginalized and that the communities rarely met to make developmental decisions for themselves.
Communities Become Decision Makers Through the Facilitated Collective Action Process
ACA decided to adopt the Facilitated Collective Action Process (FCAP), a Community-driven development tool developed by SparkMicroGrants in Uganda that gives communities the opportunity to design and implement their own goals for the present and the medium-term future. Spark trained ACA in the core FCAP methodology, and together the two organizations have designed FCAP additional modules focused on advocacy and community defense.
The FCAP, which lasts for three years in each community, is an intense, participatory series of weekly facilitated activities through which communities are guided to build unity, set realistic goals, develop proposals to achieve those goals, and then implement projects that bring them closer to their vision of the future. Midway through the process, ACA provides a “microgrant” to each community to support the implementation of the community’s first vision-oriented project.
The key feature of the FCAP is that while meetings are facilitated by ACA, the communities themselves are truly in control of every aspect of the process. They set expectations, enact ground rules and by-laws for their work, elect leaders, and make every decision by themselves. Women are strongly encouraged and supported to express themselves and participate in decision making, leading to more inclusive and participatory outcomes that reflect the will of the entire community.
Making Governments Listen to Community Aspirations
Our community partners are not satisfied with merely pursuing their own development goals; they have also insisted that the Ghanaian government recognize and respect their aspirations. In pursuit of this goal, the four villages each designed a Community Vision Board (CVB). The CVB identifies a community’s top five goals and depicts several developmental projects that could help them achieve each goal. Communities have also identified stakeholders who may undermine or support their goals and develop comprehensive strategies to advocate with these stakeholders to achieve their goals. The CVBs have been converted into community development narratives that were incorporated in the current Medium-Term Plan of the Nkoranza South Municipal Assembly – a first in Brong Ahafo Region and possibly in all of Ghana.
Short and Long-Term Impact
Already, the FCAP has had a long-term impact on the well-being of the four communities. Through their weekly meetings and the newly acquired habit of collective action planning, our communities have healed internal political divides, reached out across ethnic lines to build a unified vision, and even prioritized for the first time the development imperatives of women. One community found through the FCAP process the courage to stand up to intimidation and trickery by a traditional chief who wants to expel them from their land. These examples of unification, strengthening, and inclusivity will give the communities long-term capacity to resist destructive forces and pursue their own chosen development pathway.
Communities Choose How to Use Their Microgrants
ACA has earmarked $9,000 USD to support each of the communities’ development visions, with Donkro Nkwanta receiving a double grant due to its relatively large size. The communities will use these funds – along with their own cash and in-kind contributions – to implement and operate a project that will help them achieve the development goals they chose through the FCAP process.
Kyeredeso– a community with a population of 1,500 – has no health facility. The people of Kyeredeso will use the microgrant to build a health center, which will reduce rampant infant mortality and improve the health of the community in general.
Nwoase– a community of 800 – will use the microgrant to build teachers’ quarters to improve the quality of education in the community. Nwoase students experience a high level of teacher absenteeism as a result of the poor state of the roads leading to the village, a problem that will be remedied once teachers have decent lodging in the community.
Salamkrom– a community of 1,200 – will use the microgrant to build health workers’ accommodations. Salamkrom already has a health center but has been struggling for over eight years to get health workers posted to the community due to the lack of suitable living quarters.
Donkro Nkwanta– a community of over 6,000 – will use the microgrant to build a community center where community members could have periodic meetings and organize other events to generate income for the implementation of other projects on their Community Vision Board.
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We have an ecosystem of lawyers and other experts
who collaborate with communities to defend communities’ rights
and pursue their own vision of development