With so much uncertainty and problems that the world is facing, it is inevitable to feel wary and anxious. The only ones that you can rely on are the people around you. As such, in this particular time in the world where everything is so fragile, the best support is the ones within your immediate community. Having a good relationship in your community is a gift that you must treasure.
However, not all communities have that. Many marginalized communities had long been victims of neglect, leading to disenfranchisement. To address this disparity and lack of opportunity, it is necessary to conduct a community engagement.
So, what is community engagement, and how does it work? In the simplest definition, community engagement is working with the community, intending to create, uplift, and empower the community. Outside forces like different stakeholders from the government and other organizations can partake in this. Still, the people within the community are spearheading such initiatives to alleviate their living conditions.
Organizations may pitch in and help the community foster and develop, but ultimately, it is the community itself. This kind of relationship should be maintained, and they should work hand-in-hand to help the community’s development.
Community engagement is one of the methods to help flourish development in communities. It is important to know that community engagement is rooted in a grassroots approach. Unlike development approaches wherein the projects are implemented from top-down, the grassroots approach is more central to the community’s people, letting them flourish and allowing them to develop their means on how they want to develop.
Look at it this way; it is the people who get to decide the projects they want to start or implement compared to directly implementing projects without consultation from the people on the ground. That is the beauty of community engagement. You do not just think of projects based on your perspective of what is beneficial for the community. You go down to the ground and immerse with the people. Then just let them guide you towards their needs and the projects that better fit the community.
The goal is to empower a community. Especially for peoples from the margins who have been neglected, they need to be empowered to have authority in their lives. What people can do is to be supportive and follow through with the community. Having limited resources is a challenge, but it can be overcome by stakeholders who will spearhead the engagement with the community.
In creating a plan of action for a community, the initial step that must be done is assessing the community. Find out the leaders of the community. Then scan the community of the challenges, strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities.
It is important to scan and assess the community look for its strengths and weakness. If after the community scanning, the findings are that most children might be malnourished. It is not just enough to start a feeding program. Look deeper into the problem, perhaps what they are a holistic approach.
One of the things that can be done is through a holistic franchise of wellness programs like yoga and other physical activities that promote peace. Conducting fitness programs by inviting experts or other holistic franchises that cater to physical health can be more beneficial to the community.
What are some examples of community engagement activities? There are so many things that you can do if you want to have community engagement. It all depends on the needs of the community. Some popular ones are organizing the community, social entrepreneurship, and learning and health.
According to WHO, community engagement is the core of public health. They recognize the importance of community engagement, especially in times of great crises. Today, as the world continues to battle the covid-19 pandemic, communities had been struggling to cope. This is rightfully alarming.
That’s the reason why community scanning and assessment are important in community engagement. It is the backbone of every community engagement and the ensuing problems that might arise because of it. Through this, people who hold power can create policies that will protect and safeguard such communities.
Empowering communities takes a lot more than just one project. It is something that must be done through and through. It may take time, but at the end of the day, it will be worth it.