Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, August 2nd, 2021

The Actual Meaning of Community Development

In recent years there has been a fresh concern with life at the community level. This concern has arisen as a result of expression of social forces in the lives of groups and people throughout the world. But because of the different stages of development or diverse ways of life, in many countries these social forces manifest themselves in various ways and create what appears to be quite a different set of problems.
In those countries where industrialization and urbanization are relatively well advanced, the focus of concern is the loss of community as a meaningful form of social and moral association. The current popularity of such words as disorganization, disintegration, decline, insecurity, breakdown, instability and the like have relevance to trends in the community life in industrialized countries.
In the less developed or developing countries, on the other hand the problem has a rather different focus. In these countries one finds relatively cohesive communities, closely knit kinship systems and intimate inter-personal relations. But powerful political, economic and social forces are at work stimulating these countries to shift their politico-economic systems so as to make them responsive to economic development by adopting modern techniques of work and living. These forces have been at work since the post-World War II period or earlier and were accelerated by substantial aid programs of some of the major advanced countries and the United Nations assistance programs.
It has been increasingly recognized that the imposition of modern techniques on ancient cultures may destroy old values, create disruption and lead to problems which exist in all large urban centers. So there is a serious concern as to how communities in less-developed countries, like Afghanistan, may be stimulated or helped to adopt new techniques that may lead to greater economic productivity and provide better food, shelter, health and education, with the least disturbance or destruction of most of the original values relating to the traditional ways of life. If such a movement is to take place it is recognized that the community as a whole must make the adoption to the new socio-cultural environment.
There is generally some misconception regarding the meaning of community development. People mostly believe that simply the construction of more roads, schools and hospitals or an increase in agricultural production and improvement of cattle breeds is the essence of a community development program. This conception cannot be denied that physical achievements are the only visible contribution of the program and are simply undertaken to encourage the people living in communities to join the program whole-heartedly. In the real sense community development is a conscious, deliberate and organized effort to bring new man-made environment in the long run. So community development aims at both material and nonmaterial changes in the society.
Thus, the community development should aim at bringing balanced changes in the patterns of culture of the people living in a community. A community development program should bring the people living in a locality on a single platform to inculcate among them the spirit of self-help, responsibility, self-respect, initiative and confidence. It is necessary under this program to cultivate among the masses the ability to understand their problems, solve them mostly within local resources, or if necessary to approach the government administration to provide them technical and financial aid.
Community development as defined by the United Nations is a process designed to create conditions of economic development and social progress for the whole community with its active participation and fullest reliance upon the community initiative. The main assumption behind the concept of community development is that local resources, leadership and initiative if organized by innovations can find out the solution of local problems and such efforts can be positively correlated with national development.
The specific programs under community development may include improvement in health, agricultural production, education, income, housing, handicrafts, industries, marketing, means of transportation and communication, public utilities and creating or maintaining an atmosphere of primary groups. To achieve these objective changes in the behavior, beliefs and attitudes of the member of the community are required to have active participation from local population for making community development or organizational program a success.
And these are the considerations that should be kept in mind while designing and carrying out community development programs in Afghanistan. The externally designed development programs, without keeping in consideration the actual issues at the community level and without involving and engaging the people of the community and enabling them to make proper use of their own resources, are bound to face failure or they may only provide a temporary solace. The actual, permanent and lasting changes can only be made possible when the community starts understanding and learning the art of depending on themselves and addressing their problems in their own ways. Definitely, a community would require external support in certain cases, but that support should always remain a support it should not become the main player in the development of community development programs.