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FCDE and Current Trends in Development

cows.jpgAs an innovative development organization and emerging leader in the field, FCDE keeps current with new trends and best practice in international development. In particular, we follow research-based approaches that are rooted in grassroots support, community-driven development and rights-based empowerment principles. FCDE has integrated some of the following trends, which are gaining acclaim for their participatory practices and documented success on the ground.

Grassroots Support

Grassroots support is a nascent methodology that focuses on the provision of a range of needed services to local communities. These activities and programs include “grassroots organizing, formal and informal leadership training, organizational capacity-building, peer-to-peer networking, on-site technical assistance and occasional grantmaking” (Castelloe et al. 2002 p. 28). Simply analyzing root causes of poverty and inequality in a vacuum is not effective. Combining a multitude of services into a comprehensive model to address a range of needs - individual needs to complex organizational needs - is a new initiative that has gained wide support in the development field. Grassroots support organizations (GSO), in this context, are agencies that deliver a holistic “package of support services deemed essential to the enhancement of community-based, socioeconomic change efforts” (Martinez, 2008). This model of development strengthens the community and builds the capacities of local people and organizations. When addressing the structural challenges, along with basic needs, in a comprehensive, collective way, communities are able to organize their assets deliberately and viably. Our focus on organizational capacity building promotes building networks and linkages germane to local development efforts.

Community Driven and Community Based Development (CDD)
Much like GSOs, community-driven development (CDD) advocates for decisions and resources to be put in the hands of community groups as partners in the development process rather than as recipients with no influence (Arcand and Bassole 2007). Research has shown that by providing access to information, when coupled with appropriate support networks, communities proactively organize to supply the goods and services that meet their immediate needs. CDD enhances sustainability and makes poverty reduction more responsive to the will of the local people, including the most marginalized groups, so that all voices are heard and respected. By channeling resources directly to communities, CDD empowers people to establish their own priorities and decisively act to support their communal interests.

Community-based development (CBD) focuses on collaboration, consultation, and sharing information with beneficiaries on project activities that directly affect their community. This fosters “a more efficient allocation of resources for local priorities; stronger beneficiary ownership; more transparent and cost-effective management of resources; strong social capital and networks” (UNDP).

FCDE utilizes community-driven and community-based development strategies when partnering with local GSOs, NGOs, and governmental institutions. For example, we employ local leaders to run FCDE in-country offices. CDD practices necessitate staff who are not only qualified in international development theories, but, more importantly, who are committed to the values of participation and empowerment within the community. FCDE also creates strategic development action plans with organizations and community groups. We see people as key agents of change in their communities and that ‘local knowledge’ or ‘community knowledge’ is essential to development.

The Right to Development
The right to development is internationally recognized as a human right. The Declaration on the Right to Development, in Article 1, paragraph 1, maintains that “the right to development is an inalienable human right by virtue of which every human person and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized (UN 1986).” The right to development in practice can be seen as “a process of development which leads to the realization of each human right...carried out in a manner known as rights-based, in accordance with the international human rights standards, as a participatory, non- discriminatory, accountable and transparent process with equity in decision- making and sharing of the fruits of the process” (Sengupta 2002).
Human rights, social justice and international development are not separate entities. FCDE development programs take into account the interconnectedness between economic, social and cultural needs with the basic needs of people and communities (Frankovits 1996). We adhere to the belief that all people, regardless of their circumstances or the country in which they reside, have the right and the ability to be active members defining the development process and priorities in their communities. This is why we partner with local organizations, hire local staff, and engage in community dialogue prior to beginning program work.