History of community development is traced
back to World War-II. For the first time, in 1944
“Mass Education” was used by a secretary of
State’s Advisory Committee in a report entitled
“Mass Education in African Society”. In 1948,
the word Community Development was properly
used by British Colonial Office-Cambridge
Conference on the development of African
Community Development is a young subject and
changes in emphasis since its inception. Therefore,
there is no a single definition of the term. Some of the
1. Sanders (1953) suggests that community
development is an organized effort to improve the
condition of community life.
2. Ali (1970) stated that community development is
one of the methods for involving people in the
process of socio-economic development and the
improvement of their own conditions by
supplementing government efforts in this regards.
3. Edward and Jones (1976) opines that
community development is a process in which the
people of a community attempt a collaborative
effort to promote what they consider to be the well
being of their community.
In our own words, we can define community
development as a planned cultural change where
the conditions of a community is improved
through collective efforts based on self-help,
governmental or voluntary organizations
assistance and support.
Aims and Objectives of Community Development
1. To organize the people for sustainable development
The main purpose of community development is to
organize the people. This enable the people to collectively
identify, prioritize and plan to solve their problems that
ultimately leads to sustainable development. Through
successful organization the community members overall
develop their community.
2. Mass awareness
The main objective of community development is working
to make the people aware from various problems in a
community. It helps them to provide knowledge and to
know about the main causes that affects their social life.
Moreover, it enables them to implement social action
projects based on self-help or with the help of other
governmental an non-governmental organizations.
3. To improve the living standards of people
Community development aims to improve the living
standards of the people. It enhances and promotes
participatory democracy, sustainable development,
rights, economic conditions, equality and social
justice in a community through organizing and
capacity building of the people.
4. To empower the people
Community development seeks to empower
individuals and groups of people with the skills they
need to effect change within their communities.
5. Capacity Building
The main purpose of the community development is to aware the
people and build their capacities for the enhancement and
improvement their communities. In capacity building, the
management and leadership skills are enhanced of the community
members. Moreover, the people are trained to manage the community
resources by keeping its proper record.
6. To develop linkages with other communities and organization
Community development through community organizations enable the
people to develop their linkages with other government and non-
governmental organizations for the development of their community.
7. To enhance the notion of community ownership
Community development aims to enhance the notion of community
ownership among the people. The active involvement of community
members in developmental activities ensure the notion of ownership
among the people that leads to sustainable development.
Nature of Community Development
Community Development is a process of change
from the traditional way of living of rural
communities to progressive way of living as a
method by which people can be assisted to develop
themselves on their own capacity and resources, as a
programme for accomplishing certain welfare
activities for rural people and as a movement for
progress with a certain ideological content.
Approaches to Community Development
Sanders observed four major approaches for
1. Community Development as a Process
Process implies transition from one phase to another. It means a process of
change from a feudal society to industrialized society. Community
development as a process moves by stages from one condition or state to the
next i.e. change from a state where few or a small elite within or without a
local community make decisions for the rest of the people, to a state where
the people themselves make these decisions about maters of common
concern. Similarly, from a state where few participate where many
participate. Moreover, from a state where all resources and specialists come
from outside to few people where local people make the most use of their
own resources etc.
Community development is based on the belief in the ability of every
individual and community to grow and change for the better. They are helped
to organize and work for the attainment of better life according to their
ambitions. Community development seeks to change these conditions in the
under developed countries through the participation of the people.
Community development is concerned with the total development of man as
an agent of change and growth. For community development, participation of
all the community people is an essential factor which is not spontaneous in
the initial stages except the few educated and experienced people. The rest of
the community members will need motivation, encouragement, and
enhancement of knowledge. Thus, it can be said that community development
as a process emphasizes social and psychological change of people.
2. Community Development as a Method
Method is that which emphasizes popular
participation and direct involvement of a population
in the process of development. Community
development is a way of working to achieve some
goals. Therefore, as a method the emphasis is on the
ends/goals to be achieved by means of community
development. New ways and techniques are used to
deal with old problems with the active participation
of the people. Community development calls for
organized efforts at various levels for the
improvement of socio-economic conditions of the
community. Thus, community development as a
method brings people together in a community
program for their collective welfare.
3. Community Development as a Programme
Community development method is a set of various
procedures and activities. When community development
activity is formally organized with a separate administration
and staff, is known as a programme. Community
development as a programme emphasis on the activities to
achieve a wide variety of specific improvements in the
community with the active involvement and consensus of
the local people. Main community development
programmes according to United Nations report are:
1. Physical improvements such as roads, housing,
irrigation, drainage and better farming practices etc.
2. Functional activities such as the protection of health,
education and recreation.
3. Community action involving group discussion,
community analysis of local needs, the setting up of
committees, the training personnel
4. Community development as a movement
Community development as a movement stands for the
progress and welfare of the people in general of the
underprivileged and marginalized communities in
particular. Community development movement is
impossible without the help, cooperation and active
participation of the masses. As a movement, community
development puts emphasis on human participation in
various projects through brining change in their outlook
and by creating dependence on self-reliance among them.
This understanding of the people about ommunity
development will ultimately result in spontaneous
participation and they will look at a programme as their
own. When they begin to identify the programme as their
own, the process of social transformation starts and more
and more people participate. In this way the process of
community development takes the shape of a movement
and the whole nation feels its impact.
Elements of Community Development
McKnight (1995) and Ronnby (1995&96) identified the following
elements of community development:
1. Joint efforts to solve common problem democratically on a
2. Activities must be related to the basic needs of the community
3. Collective action and the establishment of multi-purpose program
4. Effective local administration and supervision
5. Identification, encouragement and training of local leadership
6. Promotes self-help and self-reliance
7. Initiatives comes from the people themselves
8. Process of encouragement to change
9. Adoption of consistent policies, specific administrative
arrangement, training of the personnel, mobilization of local and
10. Linkages development with voluntary NGOs to solve community