Levels of community participation

All participation is not equal. The extent of participation in programmes can vary from minimal to complete ownership. The diagram below shows increasing degrees of participation from the low end of co-option to the upper end of collective action. This shows that as community participation increases, community ownership and capacity increases. The box below defines different degrees of community participation.

An arrow representing community ownership and sustainability.

Community ownership and sustainability.

A community gathering. A community member has brought along cooking utensils and equipment.

The resources of the whole community will be used if community mobilisation is successful. (Photo: Last Ten Kilometres Project)

Degrees of community participation

  1. Co-option: Local representatives are chosen, but have no real input or power.
  2. Compliance: Tasks are assigned with incentives, but outsiders decide the agenda and direct the process.
  3. Consultation: Local opinions are asked for, and outsiders analyse and decide on a course of action.
  4. Cooperation: Local people work together with outsiders to determine realities; responsibility remains with outsiders for directing the process.
  5. Collective action: Local people set their own agenda and mobilise to carry it out, in the absence of outside initiators and facilitators.
  6. Co-learning: Local people and outsiders share their knowledge to create a new understanding, and work together to form action plans, with outsiders facilitating.

There are different tools to help the community to participate effectively. Two of the commonly used participatory tools are community mapping and community conversation.

Last modified: Saturday, 12 July 2014, 5:12 PM