Community participation ? A necessary element of community development projects

22 Sep 2014

This article presents a number of important findings of a research project evaluating the importance of community participation in infrastructure delivery in the Western Cape. There is an emerging trend in South Africa that recognises that development is much more than the expansion of income and wealth and that economic growth is not enough. The focus is increasingly on human development. Participation in the development process must allow the members of the communities to use their own views and convictions to address specific conditions and problems prevailing in their community. In addition, participation must be acknowledged as a voluntary process that influences the direction and execution of community development projects in contrast to communities merely being consulted or receiving project benefits. The emerging participatory paradigm suggests two perspectives. The first consists of substantively involving local people in the selection, design, planning and implementation of programmes and projects that will affect them. The second is to make more continuous and comprehensive feedback an integral part of development activities. This paper reviews community participation and its importance in the delivery of development projects.