June 5, 2024

Community-Driven Change: Voices from the Field

During community visits and interviews with leaders of implementing organisations, we heard a lot of support for community-driven change. Here is some of what we heard.
Please visit our Community-Driven Change: Demonstrating Impact in Africa and India resource center for our full report and additional case studies.

Community-Driven Change is a process that...

Builds community self-determination

"Growing up undocumented in this country has built resiliency in ourselves. We are now using some of those same strategies as an organization, to make sure we can not only survive this crisis, but come out of it even stronger."

“Legado’s approach is the best we have seen. They do not tell us what they want to do but instead help us identify our strengths to uplift what we do not have.” (Legado)

Builds leadership skills 

“In the past, I didn’t know anything and was simply being led. Now I am leader who can lead many. I can lead the community by sharing knowledge I have gained by taking care of trees, water sources, and anything about conservation.” (Legado)

Increases community ownership and governance

“It [development] is the responsibility of the villagers. If the villagers don’t tell the government about their problems, it won’t be able to carry out development initiatives.”

“We know Swades is not going to stay with us forever, and we are preparing ourselves for continuing the projects beyond their involvement.”

—VDC member in Gaodhond, Nashik (Swades)

Unlocks access to capital or resources

“The villagers went to discuss the proposal with the Sarpanch [the village head]. The proposal was sent by the Sarpanch, and funding for the construction of drains was approved. The construction will now begin. Gramme Sangathan, the village leaders, and the locals convened, took the initiative, and the plan was approved.”

Strengthens linkages with public systems

“In our community there was a breakdown of toilets and lack of water. Then everyone got together and discussed and then informed the community leaders, and then they informed the Saamuhika Shakti, [a collective representing waste pickers] which delivered at the government level and supported us to get access to these services.”

Shifts social norms and mindsets

“We have now started to receive more respect from the households we collect waste from as well as the police—they are recognizing our efforts. Even our confidence in raising issues and asking for our rights has increased.”

—Male, Kunthigrama (Saamuhika Shakti)

“Working with Swades staff has also helped us get exposure to the world outside. Now we have grown confident enough to present and represent ourselves even outside the village.”

—VDC member, Sule, Nashik (Swades)

Enhances well-being of historically marginalised communities

“Earlier, the seeds the government sends for poor farmers were distributed among powerful farmers through the Panchayat [local government]. Maitree [a women’s farm collective] does not let that happen anymore. We make sure that the schemes benefit the poorest in our village.” (SRIJAN)

“Before SPECTRA, women feared going to Panchayats. The staff [from SPECTRA] would then accompany women and encourage them to talk about their issues. That is a massive change. For women who feared speaking in front of men to advocate for their rights”

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The Bridgespan Group would like to thank the JPB Foundation for its generous and ongoing support of our knowledge creation and sharing work.