Community Empowerment Key to Ending Poverty.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) centers on people as their main component. And for this reason, goal number one primarily deals with ending poverty by all means. Ending poverty will go a long way to help in the achievement of all the other goals that cut across gender equality, education, peace and justice, natural resource conservation among others. At the heart of all these lies communities among which the people live, the biodiversity exist and systems ought to be implemented.
Community development and empowerment is very key in relation to ending poverty. This is because resource mobilization at the national level is expected to benefit the low end citizenry in most cases. If they are not empowered, then it becomes a bit hard for them to understand the essence of government and its role. This leads people to continue warring with poverty. When communities are made to understand the importance of education, infrastructural development, gender equality and sound healthcare, their support and input becomes critical in promoting community growth.
Community Self Help Groups
Community self-help groups include local youth groups, women enterprise groups, Chamas (merry go rounds) among others. Besides the sense of belonging that members enjoy, these groups promote economic growth among its members. Members of the group have easier access to credit facilities that are quicker and easier to secure which help in initial capital start up investment. For instance, if I am a member of a group and start a rag making business, there is a very high chance I will employ local people and among my first customers will be my group members. What of the money? I will get easier credit from our self-group.
The ripple effect is that my success as an individual will trigger other members into embracing entrepreneurship. This in turn will help them generate income and hence promote personal and community economic growth. One thing is sure with our communities, they will embrace anything which they see working. The rest is sweet fables and stories. Empowering a small part of a community is the most important part of empowering the rest of the community.
The rise of the bodaboda (motorcycles) grew rapidly through the self-help groups. The idea that the rest of the community saw the model working with one of them was enough to convince people to run for easier credit from the small Sacco’s and self-help groups in the local areas. This is the analogy behind the popularity of the bodaboda sector in Kenya. It is easier for one to listen and understand one of their own who they are related through blood, family relations or even regional ties. At this point comes in community self-help groups as tools of empowering economic development.
Goal number four deals with inclusive and equitable quality education that will promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Education is very important in ending poverty. Teaching a community is empowering that community. Empowering a community with education is fighting poverty at its core.
A while ago, the pastoralists’ communities have been known to disregard education for their children. Education was seen as a foreign culture that had come to suppress the local culture and hence was treated with utmost disregard. Community empowerment to those areas have proved fruitful over the recent past as child enrollment in schools has increased noticeably.
The achievement above was made possible through community mobilization and sensitization. If for example I am a leader in my community and I was against education, then after sensitization I did accept it, then my community members will start following suit. This is what happens with programs at community level that are aimed at transforming the lives of the inhabitants.
It is very possible to reduce the poverty level in the continent of Africa at large. Besides curbing corruption, misuse and embezzlement of funds, community empowerment and sensitization will play a very big role. It is possible that once the citizenry have been empowered, they can turn on their corrupt leaders. At the heart of solving key problems and challenges in the African continent, lies the killer weapon of empowering the masses.
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