Challenges of Village Development
For those who think that building a “model” village is an easy thing, think again. The mere act of constructing a village, that looks and feels like a place YOU might like to live in does not constitute Village Development. That is the easy part. The difficult parts, the challenges are summarized below:
1. The Right Location.
This can sometimes be a cumbersome process; many flood devastated villages are in areas that are prone to flooding every year. One needs to ensure that the land belongs to the residents of the village and that there are no legal disputes that might complicate our efforts to rebuild there once construction is underway. Lastly, we must ensure that any work we do is free (to as much an extent as is possible) from adverse political conditions and/or any law and order problems.
2. An Inspired Community.
As stated earlier, Village Development does not just constitute a “reconstruction” project with better village planning for infrastructure but more importantly its main goal is to make better the lives of its residents. In order for this to become a “real” model village the people need to be inspired to participate in the improvement of their own lives and communities. It is only with a community that is willing to work together for the improvement of their lives that a village can stand transformed from the abject poverty and poor quality of life that is indicative in the rural areas.
3. Social Mobilization.
Once you have found a community that is inspired to upgrade their own lives, these people need to be enrolled, engaged and empowered to do so. This is exactly where the IKF’s social mobilization team comes in. They move into the villages under construction and impart Village Level Maintenance & Operation (VLOM) training, which is designed to teach the villagers how to maintain the infrastructure being provided e.g. solar lights, bio-gas units, drains etc. They also encourage the villagers to create decision making bodies, like the Community Elders Network (CEN) which act as an IKF Partner and represent their communities. May not sound too challenging but instilling the notion of self determination among people who have lived in the most depraved conditions for centuries is not done in a fortnight; it may take years. In fact, it is envisioned that the IKF social mobilization teams will be engaged for the long term, well after the construction project is over.
Just a few things for our friends to ponder over. It is extremely easy to spend money quickly but to spend it wiser, is not so easy either. Moreover, if you plan on rehabilitating a village, please consider the not so exhausting information you have read here. Failure to address any of the above challenges correctly may result in a somewhat compromised program for development.