Collaboration - how can we work together?

What is collaboration, why is it important?

In most of the cases, various stakeholders are involved in the process of community development. Of course, the community people themselves should be main actors who take initiatives and continuously struggle for overcoming their own problems. From the viewpoint of sustainability of any development activities, it is inevitable that the community people have to keep ownership from the beginning to the end. The other stakeholders can act as facilitators, resource persons, advisors, mediators, or donors.

As we agree that the community people themselves should be the main actors in community development, then, the issue of collaboration will be the matter how the community people can collaborate with the other actors such as donors, NGOs, government bodies or institutions (local and national), private companies, academicians, journalists or mass media. The word “collaborate” literally means working (labor) together (co-). So, the matter of collaboration in community development can be explained as “how the community people work together with the outsiders”. And if we look the matter from the outsiders viewpoint, it can also be said that the outsiders should facilitate the community people so that they will be able to construct good collaboration with the outsiders.

However, it is not easy for the outsiders to help the community people building good collaboration with the outsiders because in many cases, the outsiders themselves are also the major actors in collaboration. In any collaborative actions, all the actors involved have their own interests, objectives, values, or missions which differ from one to another. The interests or missions of the outsiders often differ from those of the community people. For example, if a government agency wants to have forest conservation activities in collaboration with the community people, the interests of both parties (government and local community) differ or even contradict each other. The government agency (such as forest department or environment ministry) wants to protect the forest for bio-diversity conservation, whereas the community people need to conserve the forest for their daily life (food production, water resource, etc.). Both parties need forest, but the meaning and objectives are different. If the government agency does not consider the community people’s perspectives and interests, although the ultimate goal (conservation of natural resources) is the same, the community people will not agree with the outsider’s idea to protect the forest because they may (mis)understand that the government agency will stop them entering the forest.

Thus, facilitating collaboration with the community people is not an easy task for the outsiders. If the outsiders take initiative, set objectives and strategies, and ask the community people to work with them, we can not say that it is a real collaboration case. The following chart shows “gradation of collaboration” based on degree of the both parties’ involvement.

Box A indicates the activities that are thoroughly initiated, planned, and managed by the community itself whereas the box E shows activities totally done by the government institution. Box A and E do not need any collaboration with the other party. Then, box B indicates activities that are initiated, planned, and implemented by the community but some assistance from government exists. On the other hand, box D shows activities that are planned by the government but the community people participate in as “participants” of the activity. In both of the cases (Box B and D), the ownership of the activity is still held by the major actor (community in the case B and government in the case D), and the other party is only participate in through various forms (just attendance, providing opinions, monetary assistance, or others). In many cases, the activities fall onto the box B or D are considered as collaborative actions, but if we define “collaboration” more strictly, they are not the exact cases of collaboration. Of course, we can not deny that there are some collaborative relationship between the two actors in those cases (box B and D). However, it is important that the both parties should participate in the process on equal basis. So, it is obvious that the box C indicates the real case of collaboration. What is it? Let me introduce an interesting and useful principle of collaboration that emerged through the field experience of Japanese community development activities. The Yokohama Code describes six important principles that the real collaborative actions should follow. This Code was established by Yokohama city government together with the residents of the city when they discussed about the issue of collaboration between the local government and the citizens’ groups.

6 Principles of collaboration (Yokohama Code)

(1)Principle of equality (both parties to stand on equal stance)

If we need to solve any problem through collaboration, it is important to construct equal relationship between the both parties. They should realize that the relationship between them is not a vertical but a horizontal one. The collaboration should be established on a basis of free will of each actor.

(In some cases, governmental institutions have all the powers to control the projects and give instructions to NGOs or local organizations for implementation. The NGOs or local organizations have to follow those instructions. If so, the relationship among them is vertical, and it can not be considered to be equal relationship.)

(2) Principle of respecting voluntary actions (to respect voluntary action of the citizens)

In any collaborative activities, it is very important to make full use of advantages of citizens’ actions such as flexible measures towards public issues. Voluntary spontaneous actions should be respected.

One of big advantages of collaborative activities between governmental and non-governmental organizations is that NGOs or citizens’ groups have flexibility creativity based on their voluntarism. The government side should respect those voluntary will and creativity so that flexible and appropriate services will be provided.)

(3) Principle of developing independent actions (to help citizens’ actions become independent)

In our local communities, it is important that independent citizens’ organizations having enough capacity to plan and implement own projects independently. The actors in collaborative activities should not depend on each other too much and they should not have cozy relationship among each others. If the activities are implemented by independent actors, collaboration becomes meaningful.

(For NGOs or local organizations, income from collaborative activities given by governmental or public agencies is not a small one. Thus, it is a general trend that those NGOs tend to rely much on such public money. However, if NGOs or citizens’ organizations depend too much on government projects, their independency and voluntarism might be influenced and the creativity or flexibility will be decreased as a result.)

(4) Principle of mutual understanding (both citizens’ groups and local administration to understand the strong and weak points each other)

It is very important that the both parties in collaboration should understand, realize, and respect the essential facts of the other parties. If each actor understands the other actor’s strong or weak points well, all the actors will be able to play their roles firmly.

(Collaborative activities will have larger impacts if the parties involved can maximize their strong points and cover their weak points each other.)

(5) Principle of sharing objectives (both citizens’ groups and local administration to share common objectives fully or partly)

All the actions to solve public problems through collaboration should have objectives of serving for a large number of general public. At first, both parties in collaborative activities should understand and confirm the common objectives of collaboration.

(Of course, each actor participates in collaborative activities has own interests and objectives that might differs from the others. However, if the activities have to serve for public interests, all the parties have to share the common goals and objectives.)

(6) Principle of transparency (to open the relation between citizens’ groups and local administration)

The relation among the actors in collaborative activities should be transparent and open to the public. It is important that the basic data or information about collaborative activities should be opened, and it is also essential condition for collaborative activities that any groups or organizations will be able to participate in the collaboration if they meet certain requirements.

(There are various kinds of NGOs or citizens’ groups that have own specialties and expertise, and some of them might not be known to governmental organizations. So, it is important to open all the information about collaborative activities to the public so that any of NGOs or citizens’ groups can have chance to participate in.)

Some tips for building better collaboration

a) Partnership building

If one party of collaborative activity is stronger in terms of authorized power, social position, or economic capacity, etc. than the community people, the outsiders who want to collaborate with the community people should be very careful to construct real “equal partnership”. The powerful ones tend to dominate the process, and the weaker ones just follow what the others request or decide. It is not a horizontal equal relation, and if such a relation is once constructed, it is not easy for all the actors to participate in the process with full voluntary will and initiatives. Thus, real “horizontal” partnership building is very important. In order to build equal partnership among the actors involved in a collaborative activity, it is necessary for them to have mutual respect and to share all the information with each others.

b) Collaboration from the beginning
Before implementing any activities, the process of preparation is a key for successful collaboration. If only one party has been involved in preparatory process such as research, analysis and planning, the other parties feel that the activity (project) is not their own but they are just requested to participate in the process partly (mostly only for implementation). Therefore, it is very important that the major actors should be involved in the process of one project from the beginning. They have to conduct research, analysis, and planning jointly. If all the major actors are able to share the issues, vision, objectives and strategy as a result of joint preparation, their active participation will be ensured.

c) Importance of initiatives from those who really implement
In some of the cases of collaborative activities, government (local or national) initiated the process and planed the project, and NGOs or local community organizations are requested to implement it according to guideline or instructions prepared by the government. In such cases, creativity or flexibility of those NGOs or local community organizations is not easily emerged because they do not have enough space to think by themselves. One of the reasons why governmental agencies or institutions require collaborations with private voluntary organizations is that flexibility and creativity of those organizations are very important to provide effective and efficient public services. If so, it is vital that the government should give enough opportunities for the implementing organizations to take initiative to create innovative or alternative ways.
d) Complementary relations
It is obvious that any collaborative activities are required when single party can not fulfill their objectives by their own actions. They require someone else to cover their weakness or to strengthen their skills or knowledge. We can say that there should be complementary relations among the actors in collaborative activities. Thus, if some organizations plan to start collaboration with the other organizations or institutions, they should be aware of what they can do and what they can not do. The partner of collaborative activities should be selected on the basis of understanding about what the other parties will be able to complement the weakness of the first party.
e) How to ensure independent actions
Based on Japanese experience of community development, local voluntary organizations or NPOs (Non Profit organizations) are always faced to financial problems. It is not easy for them to accumulate enough funds from general public in Japan. Then, the governmental assistance is not small for them from financial perspective. However, if a NPO or community-based organization starts to be rely too much on what the government can provide with them, their creativity or flexibility might be hampered. On the contrary, if such NPO or community-based organization will become independent financially through participating in collaborative activities, they will be able to continue their activities with their own fund. It is necessary that the government agencies or institutions who want to have collaborative activities respect independence of NPOs or local community organizations so that the sustainability of the activities might be ensured.
f) Accountability and transparency
It is important that all the process of collaborative activities should be shared among the actors involved. If the plans, strategies, research results, analysis, activities, impacts, and problems occurred in the process are shared among them, each actor will be much responsible for their actions, and it will become easier for them to help each other. And if the collaborative activities are related with public services, the information about the activities should be opened to the general public as much as possible. It is necessary because the collaborative activity will have greater impact on the society and there are many stakeholders in such activities.

By M. Nagahata (i-i-network)

Tips for conducting training workshop on “collaboration”

Among your colleagues, counterparts, or community people, there may be a chance to have training workshop for thinking about collaboration. The following tips may help you to have such workshops or seminars where the participants will be able to review their activities and to find out appropriate approach to collaborative community development as outsiders. The article shown in the previous pages of this newsletter can be a reading material for the workshop or seminars.

Exercise 1: “Who are the Stakeholders?”

Question & Instruction:
Choose any one of projects that you are involved. Find out stakeholders who are involved as many as possible. Categorize them. Then, please list up “strengths and weakness” for each stakeholders.

It is not easy for those who are involved in an activity to find out who are the stakeholders because they tend to think that they are alone and no one will help them. So, it is useful if you will review your own activities and how many stakeholders are involved in and how much chance you may have to receive their assistance.

Purpose of the exercise:
To find out how many stakeholders are involved in an activity, to know possibility of collaboration, and to see difference of characteristics (strength and weakness) among them.
Exercise 2: “Let us start working together”

Question & Instruction:
In any of the activities you are involved, you can try to start collaboration with someone who may help you. Choose one of the stakeholders whom you need to work with, and make plan how to start collaboration. At first, what will you do? What kinds of actions are necessary to build equal partnership? What should be done for involving them from the beginning?

In this exercise, the participants are requested to think about real process of collaboration. There are various stakeholders, but it is necessary to select one of them whom the participants will be able to construct complementary relations. It is also noted that involving stakeholders from the beginning is very important.

Purpose of the exercise:
To think about concrete process of collaboration, to find out key actions for constructing equal partnership with the stakeholders.

Exercise 3: “Making own principles for collaborative activities”

Question & Instruction:
Select several stakeholders in a local community, and choose any one of important issues for the community. In order to tackle the issue, the stakeholders discuss together and find out way for collaboration. Each stakeholder has own strengths and interests. Find out strategy, activities, division of roles and principles of collaboration which all the stakeholders should follow.

This exercise can be implemented through role playing style. The workshop participants are divided into several groups which represent each stakeholder. The exercise can also be tried through real situation, i.e. involving various stakeholders in a real community issue. In such case, the results of the exercise can be utilized in actual collaborative activities.
Purpose of the exercise:
To realize differences among the stakeholders, to know how to set up division of tasks and responsibilities, and to find out own principles of collaboration.

By M. Nagahata (i-i-network)

Case study on communities in Japan

Young outsiders built partnership with old community members
– a case of Japanese remote rural community, Kuwadori valley

Kamiechigo Yamazato Fan Club

You can take Shinkansen Super Express train bound for Niigata, change at Echigo-Yuzawa station, take local train for Kanazawa, and finally reach Naoetsu station. It takes three hours from Tokyo to reach this small station of Joetsu city, located at the north coast of Honshu island facing the sea of Japan. The city is known for its delicious rice production and it is an area of high snowfall. When I got off the train at Naoetsu station in February of this year, the only thing I saw was a huge pile of snow cleared away from the street. It was a small city impressive of white snow and cold wind from the sea of Japan. NPO (Non Profit Organization) Kamiechigo was established in this city and has various activities in remote villages inside mountain area called “Kuwadori valley” located at the west part of Joetsu city.

In Kuwadori valley, the community people have been carrying on traditional life culture based on agriculture and sericulture. As the village is located far from big cities, traditional folk culture such as events, arts, and skills have been conserved for many years. However, in 1960s when the road connected to the city center was completed, modernization rapidly came into the village and most of the young generation has already migrated out to big cities such as Tokyo. As a result, population of the village drastically decreases, the ratio of elderly people increases, and the local community has lost its power and activeness. For example, in Nakanomata, one of the hamlets of the village, average age of the total 90 residents is late 70s and even the youngest one is over 40 years old. Traditional life skills of the mountain village such as charcoal grilling, bamboo works, water mill operation, and rice terrace maintenance might be extinct within 10 years as those who inherited such skills do not have any successors. Kamiechigo Yamazato Fan Club (KYFC) was established in 2001 by a group of people who shared the sense of crisis on such situation of the village.

KYFC was formed among representative of the community, leaders of the community based small groups, activists of NPOs, and the local administration. Presently it has nine paid staff who are young (mostly in their 20s and 30s). The organization implements various activities involving local community people and outside visitors (mainly from urban areas) such as revival or conservation of traditional community events and providing opportunities of life experience in mountain village to the visitors. It is also entrusted operation and management of two public facilities of Joetsu city administration, “the school of global environmental conservation” (a facility for environmental education) and “Joetsu community forest” (forest park for the city residents). The income from the entrustment of those two facilities is the major source of revenue for the organization.

This road lead to the city

Nakanomata hamlet (Winter)

Nakanomata hamlet (Autumn)

Role of KYFC – linking the community with outsiders

Kamiechigo Yamazato Fan Club (KYFC) is an organization initiated by the local community members. Before the establishment, the local community members participated in preparatory meetings, and when it was established, some of the community residents joined as executive board members, and the other eighty residents participated as promoters. The principle policy of the organization is “the main actors are the community people, and the staff of KYFC are those who support them”. Most of the KYFC staff are the outsiders who came from the other prefectures, and when they first joined the organization, those outside youths tend to become “members of the community” in order to be accepted by the community. However, the leaders of the organization told them not to try to be a member of the community. “We should remain neutral, not being community members or outsiders either. Our role is to be mediators, linking the community with the outside people.”

One of the examples of being mediators is an activity of supporting local event for New Year’s day according to the lunar calendar. There has been an event for traditional New Year’s day celebration implemented by a local community group. When KYFC decided to support the event, the staff asked the group “please show us the event”. KYFC thought that it was impertinent if they directly offer the community to provide assistance because KYFC staff did not know anything about the event. KYFC staff were afraid of destroying the traditional event that has been inherited since for long time. In the first year, KYFC just observed the event and took photos. After that, the community people asked KYFC whether they wanted to join the event for the next time. The community members also started to ask to join community activities such as cleaning the community facilities, and KYFC were also invited to attend community meetings after the cleaning activities. Now, KYFC is often asked by the community to send volunteers for cleaning the community facilities before various events.

It appears to be a good example of outsiders’ approach to a community. At first, they started attending community events without disturbing initiatives of the community people. Then, they are gradually accepted and asked to help when the community people feel necessary.

Building trust with the local community

In various activities of KYFC such as study visits, exposure events, and environmental learning courses, there are a lot of opportunities to take visitors from outside to the village. At those times, the villagers willingly receive them saying that “if you (KYFC) take visitors, it is OK”. Those outside visitors usually break into the ordinary life of the villagers, take photos, ask many questions, and enter the forest and rivers of the village. The villagers accept those outsiders without any hesitation and even enjoy exchanging with them. It becomes possible because of the relationship of trust built between the villagers and KYFC.

Then, how was that trust relationship built? Ms. Miura, one of the young leaders of KYFC recalls “I can not remember any specific event that helped us to make good relation with the villagers, but I think the atmosphere had been changed when five to six years had passed after we started activities here. Before that time, some villagers who did not agree with the KYFC activities had opposed against us openly, but after five to six years, they did not express their feeling even if they did not agree with us. The villagers started to think that KYFC staff would continue to stay with them. It was a great progress when the villagers considered us as persons who want to stay for long.” According to Ms. Miura, the villagers do not trust anyone who only gives good words. You should express your emotion by showing your own actions, and then, you will be trusted by the community people. Since its establishment, KYFC staff has been continuing cleaning up the irrigation canals together with the community people, joining members of community fire brigade, attending community meetings, and helping sweeping snow away even in holidays. As persons who will stay long here, they walk together, live together, and act together close with the villagers. It is easy for anyone to say, but it is not easy to do. KYFC has been continuing for nine years since its establishment.

The villagers willingly received JICA Training course (2008)

Attitude to walk with the community

Their firm stance to walk with the community can be observed through various activities of the organization. For example, they publish monthly newsletter providing various reports and information of their activities and introducing local communities. Now they distribute the newsletter to all the households in Kuwawdori valley (in fact, it is not possible to distribute to all the houses, but they ask the community association to circulate the newsletter to each household.) When they started circulating the newsletter, the villagers’ response towards KYFC had been improved. The villagers read through the newsletter every nook and corner, and give comments to KYFC. They provide information for a column of the newsletter titling “introduction of local words”, saying “I use this word”, etc. In addition, KYFC starts a page in the newsletter introducing villagers and providing large size photos of landscapes of the village.

When KYFC receives new staff or interns, the organization provides an information sheet describing who he / she is from where with photos and circulates it to each household. Even if the new comer only stay short time like one week, if there is a possibility that he / she may have interaction with the villagers, KYFC always introduce the person so that any person who visited KYFC from outside will not enter the village without being noticed by the villagers. When any staff or intern leaves KYFC, it also reports to the villagers.

The activities of “the school of global environmental conservation”, an entrusted project from the city government have also consideration to the villagers’ perspectives and feelings. The school provides thirty-four activities for the children and their families from urban areas such as maintenance of forest, observation of wild animals, experience of local traditional foods. Among those activities, three of them (experiencing agricultural works, being invited by villagers who know well about the village life, and having interview with those villagers) have recently been started as these activities have very close relations with the everyday life of the villagers. The other activities such as maintenance of forest, teaching traditional cooking, or observing wild animals require limited involvement of the villagers. So, it was not difficult for KYFC to start those activities from the beginning, but the three activities mentioned above need full involvement or participation of the villagers, so KYFC spent much time to build trust relationship with the community.

When KYFC hold a sports festival with the villagers, every and each program of the festival is discussed and decided with the community people. “Even if it is a simple and easy sport game, the villagers show strong rejection against any new ones that they have not experienced”. The organization had meetings with the villagers at many times to discuss detail in order to facilitate the organizing committee formed by the villagers enjoy managing the festival.

All the above efforts of KYFC to pay close attention to the villagers are made possible because the members of KYFC continue to have strong will to walk together with the villagers based on the villagers’ perspectives and feelings.

The school of global environmental conservation

Encounter with JIMOTOGAKU

In 2005, some staff of KYFC visited Mr. Tetsuo Yoshimoto, a founder of Jimotogaku in Minamata, and received training on Jimotogaku concept and method. “Before that, we had already practiced research for local resources, and we became sure that our basic concept was not wrong. In addition, we learned the importance of visualizing what was found in the research by using photos, charts, and drawings, and also we realized the necessity of sharing the results of research with the community people,” said Ms. Miura.

As they realized the importance of visualization and sharing with the local people, KYFC published a book titled “Nakanomatan” in 2008. That publication was based on what they learned from the villagers of Nakanomata hamlet. It was seven years after KYFC came into the hamlet. They call the villagers “Nakanomatan” with their thoroughly respect towards the villagers’ skills to be self-sufficient for clothes, foods, shelter, energy, and even entertainment. In the book, those precious skills (straw craft works, soba-making, etc.), unique characteristics of the villagers, everyday works such as rice production and charcoal grilling, traditional festivals, and old tales are introduced with a lot of photos and stories. The villagers who read the book express their impressions such as “you really understand Nakanomata well”, “you have been doing such an interesting activities”, and KYFC and its activities have been accepted and acknowledged by the villagers.

After discovering local resources and shared them with the villagers through Jimotogaku practice, KYFC presently tried to find ways to utilize those resources. In a local community where the number of residents continues to decrease and the traditional life skills are about to disappear, they want to try new approaches for creating opportunities of earning income in the community so that the younger generation who had already migrated out will be able to come back and the new comers will migrate into the community. For those purposes, it is necessary to find out ways to earn money by utilizing newly-found local resources as the conventional agriculture or other industry in the village can not fulfill the requirement of cash income.

The book“Nakanomatan”

The page of introduction of the villagers

Towards the future

“After five years from now, about half of the community may pass away”, “we do not have enough time to wait for the new staff to increase their capacity”, said Ms. Miura showing her impatience and frustration. In the midst of over-aging society, she is sure that KYFC should work as a mediator to bridge between the old generation and the young one. Whatever conditions the villagers may face in the future, it is the community people themselves who should decide all the matters. Ms. Miura and the other KYFC members seem to be determined to work as mediators for the community of Kuwadori valley.

(Report by Naoko Takada, i-i-network)

Case study in Indonesia

Towards co-existent and collaborative relations
- Bali Barat National Park and the surrounding local communities

By M. Nagahata (i-i-network)

Bali Barat National Park in Indonesia

Bali Barat National Park is located at the west end of Bali Island, one of 17,000 islands that constitute the world’s largest archipelago country, Indonesia. The park covers more than 19,000 ha of mountain, plain land, beach, and the surface of the sea. It has precious eco-systems with more than 460 species of flora and fauna. Among them, the Jalak Bali (Bali Mynah) is an endemic species in Bali, but the number of the bird decreases because of the destruction of natural resources in the habitat. In fact, not only for the Jalak Bali, but in general, the illegal logging and hunting activities mostly by the surrounding communities are one of the major issues for the National Park to tackle for conserving natural resources of the area.

There are six villages adjacent to the park territory with more than 30,000 residents. The livelihood of those villagers depends mostly on agriculture, forestry, fishery, and tourism. A lot of villagers enter the forest surrounding them to bring firewood for their daily life and also to take wild grasses for their livestock. In most of the villages, water supply is also depends on the forest located at the back side of the villages. In short, for the villagers, the forests surrounding them are a part of their life that provides necessary things for them to survive and to earn income.

Therefore, perspective of the National Park and the local communities towards the forest differ. Primary concern of the villagers is how they can maintain and improve their life, whereas the primary objective of the National Park is to conserve the bio-diversity of the protected forest. Thus, if the National Park want to encourage the community people to stop illegal logging or hunting, it is necessary that the both parties realize the real situation each others. It is also necessary to facilitate empowerment of the surrounding communities in order that they will be able to improve their economic situation without destructing natural resources surrounding them.

Being concerned with the above situation, the Bali Barat National Park has been aware of the importance of facilitating empowerment of the local communities. And for that purpose, it is necessary to build up the capacity of the related Park officials and field staff regarding community facilitation and empowerment.

Bali Barat National Park

The forests are part of the villagers life

i-i-network project with the Park

It is the above mentioned background that a Japanese NGO, i-i-network, started collaborating with the National Park. The project is titled “Creation of co-existent and collaborative relationship between the local communities and Bali Barat National Park for conservation and management of natural resources and empowerment”, and the duration is three years starting from June 2008. “i-i-network” is a Japanese NGO that has experience of capacity building for community facilitators, and it has partners in Indonesia who have enough skills and experience on community facilitation. The NGO sends experts both from Japan and from the other areas of Indonesia to the National Park to provide training and advices to the Park field staff in order that those staff will be able to facilitate community empowerment in the surrounding areas. The project is supported by JICA through its scheme of “Grass Roots Partnership Technical Cooperation”.

i-i-network provides training and advices to the Park field staff

Capacity building of the park field staff

At first, i-i-network held a workshop with the project team consisting of the Park field staff. In the workshop, the team members shared their experiences with the local community people, and confirmed that it is very important to have good relationship with the community if they want to ask the communities to collaborate with the Park. Then, the project team went outside to visit local communities surrounding the Park, and found out there are various potential resources in the villages that can be utilized for the development activities.

After that, a series of training workshops was conducted among the team members with the facilitators and resource persons from i-i-network. The major topics of the workshops were, “partnership building with the community people”, “Observation and hypothesis making”, “interview to the community people”, “issue analysis”, and “how to share the findings with the community people”. At the beginning, the Park staff was not aware of importance and skills of facilitation as they did not have experience to be facilitators in community development. The only activities they had implemented in the surrounding villages were to distribute saplings or livestock to the villagers without considering any initiatives of the villagers themselves.

Now, the Project team members realized how important it is to build partnership with the villagers, so when they visit the communities, they do not wear uniform of the National Park, and try to become friends who exchange views and opinions in equal position with the community members. The team members also understood how to make hypothesis on the issue of the communities through fact finding by observation and interview. They visited the village many times, observed the condition of natural resources including the forest surrounding the village, and conducted dialogue with the villagers. Some of the team members strongly feel that it is extremely important to know the real situation of the village and make hypothesis before starting any activities there.

Go to the village without uniform

Findings at the village and future prospect
The project team of the National Park has finally reached out several hypotheses on the issues of one village adjacent to the Park. One of the findings is that the community people may face decrease of soil fertility and drinking water supply due to the destruction of forest located in the mountain at the back of the village. The villagers enter the forest to cultivate crops as a program of agro-forestry program, but they cut down the trees and it is obvious that the forest is not properly managed. As livelihood of the villagers depends much on the forest, it is vital for them to protect it whereas they utilize it. Now, the next step for the Project team is to share those finding with the villagers. It is necessary for the team members to make the villagers understand the issue hypothesis easily, so the team should use simple and understandable words and expressions. After sharing the issue, it is expected that the villagers themselves will take initiatives to tackle the issue with the help of outsiders including the National Park. If the Project team members are able to facilitate the process, it can be said that the capacity of those field staff is enough increased to become real community facilitators.


Roles of outsiders in community development
– from benefactor to partner

By M. Nagahata (i-i-network)

Who are the main actors?

In most of so-called “community development” projects, there are various organizations or institutions either governmental or non-governmental that are involved in the process of project activities. They might be donors who provide financial support to the activities, planners who design the project activities, research organizations who conduct studies or surveys for project planning, implementing agencies responsible for executing all the project activities, or consulting farms who provide technical support or advices. Despite the differences of origins, roles, or characteristics of those organizations or institutions, all of them can be considered as “outsiders” for the community people. In short, there are two categories of actors in community development projects, community people themselves and outsiders. Then, the question is “which part is the main actors that should play major roles in community development?”

In order to find the answer, let us start with thinking about the history of local communities. In your place, which existed first, local communities or national government? Definitely, local communities have been existing for much longer time than the national government does throughout the world. The national government system that holds sovereign power throughout a country was just established in recent centuries, whereas from the very beginning of its history, human being required something like local communities where they interact together and help each other for their survival, production, and re-production. They have been managed natural resources surrounding them for long time to secure their own daily life. For agricultural or other productive activities, human being also have required mutual help such as working together in rice fields for planting or harvesting paddy. In order to raise children, to repair houses, or to maintain rural infrastructure, community people have had to help each other through forming groups. And the local communities have been a core of people’s identity or the sense of belongings as they have shared values, norms, histories, and landscapes. All of the above facts prove that for most of the local communities, the people had been living without governmental support for long time before the modernization came into their life.

Then, apart from its historical background, if you look into the present situation of the local communities, you will be able to find out various cases that the local people took initiatives to solve their problems and to improve their life. Just for examples in Indonesia, there is a village named Ijobalit in Lombok Island of West Nusa Tenggara Province where the local community people have been struggling for irrigating their dry land by constructing small dam and canals. Their effort started in 1960s with the initiative of a local community leader, and has continued for more than 30 years. At first, they used very “primitive” skills and materials such as putting coconut shells into the river to stop the stream. Their efforts failed many times, but they did not stop it. At last, a child of the initiated leader who studied civil engineering in a university took over the effort, and he collaborated with local constructing companies and also the government institutions to utilize machines, labors and the funds for construction. Now, around 370 ha of dry land once abandoned is irrigated and become agricultural field.

In another village called Toli-Toli located in a coastal area of South East Sulawesi Province, a team of seven youths in the village was formed in 2000 to preserve and recover the coastal area around them. For more than 20 years, the fishermen of the surrounding communities had been using bombs (dynamites) and drugs for caching fish. The coastal communities also cut down the mangrove forests nearby them and took away the coral for their houses and other daily needs. As a result of the destruction of natural environment, the catch of fish gradually decreased, and erosion of the coast started. The seven youths of the village were worried about such situation, and started discussing among them. They started trying to make the community members aware of negative impact of fishery using bombs and drugs, introducing fish culture in a simple manner, and planting mangrove trees in the coastal area. At first, the other villagers considered the team seven as “funny young people”, but gradually their ideas and practices were accepted by the community. Then, the local government contacted with the team and provided opportunity for having training on marine coastal resource management. Finally, the village government established Zoning regulation of the marine and coastal area surrounding the village, and the villagers started some activities for conservation and rehabilitation of the natural environment such as planting mangrove, stopping using bombs and drugs in fishery, and patrolling the coastal area for stopping such fishery activities by the other communities.

In both of the cases introduced above, and also in many other villages not only in Indonesia but also in your countries, there are initiatives of community members to overcome their problems. They started without any outside supports, and continued their effort for long time. If you witness such examples of community people’s continuous efforts, you will not be able to say “community participation to a project”. On the contrary, we should say that we, the outsiders, can participate in the community’s long history of struggling for their better life. And of course, from the perspective of sustainability of any activities, it is far better that the community people themselves initiate something than the outsiders bring some actions from outside.

What are the reasons for outsiders to come in?
If the main actors in community development are the community people themselves, what are the reasons for the outsiders to come into communities? To think about the answers, then, let us analyze the matter by using the following matrix.

Various knowledge or skills can be categorized into the boxes (A to D) above. What are they? Please think about it.

A (What both outsiders and community people know):
 Geographical characteristics of the area
 Population and number of households
 Major industries or economic activities of the community
 Formal leader and structure of village administration
 Internal resources available

B (What outsiders do not know but community people know):
 Traditional leadership and decision making system
 Norms, values, and regulations of the village
 History and myths of the community
 Traditional medical plants (herbs) and their utilization
 Cultural events, rituals, mutual helping groups

C (What outsiders know but community people do not know):
 Modern technology
 Government policy
 International trend or market
 Outside resources available
 Interesting cases of the other communities

D (Either outsiders or community people do not know):
 Natural disaster
 Climate change
 Resources un-utilized
 Future of the community

There may be more points that you can raise. Anyway, by using the above matrix, how can you explain the reasons why the outsiders need to be involved in community?

It might be easy for you to say that we (the outsiders) should come into a community because we know much more than the community people know. In this way, you are explaining the reasons for the outsiders’ intervention to communities by an arrow (a) above. It may be right that the outsiders are necessary in community development because there is some knowledge or skill that community people do not know. However, on the other hand, it is also true that there is some other knowledge and skill that the outsiders do not know but community people know. So, we can explain that one of the purposes of outsiders’ involvement is we (outsiders) want to learn new knowledge or skills from the communities (arrow b above). Then, if we connect the arrow (a) and (b) above, it can become clear that the outsiders’ knowledge (skills) and the community people’s knowledge (skills) can be combined to create new knowledge.

Moreover, if we look into the category D of the matrix, there is something that either outsiders or community do not know, that is “hidden resource”, or “un-discovered” “un-utilized” resource. The arrow (c) describes that there is a possibility that those hidden resources or un-discovered resources can be found out and will be utilized through collaboration among the community people and outsiders.

Another reason why the outsiders are involved
From the viewpoint of outsiders, there may be another reason for them to be involved in a community. Let us take an example of community-based forest management activity.

Imagine that there is a community inside mountain area, and their daily life is heavily depends on forest resources around them. They cultivate the slopes to grow corns and vegetables, harvest various wild plants, collect firewood, drink water from a spring, and use herbal medicine. All of those resources come from the forest. However, because of population pressure and also needs for cash income, the villagers started cutting trees in the forest to sell firewood and to expand their agricultural lands. As a result, forest degradation started, and the community people now suffer from shortage of water, frequent land slide, and soil erosion.

Now, the community people want to recover the forest by planting trees and stopping over-utilization of the forest resources. The question here is: WHAT ARE THE GOOD POINTS that the community people recover and conserve the forest?

The answers may be;

Protect soil erosion / secure water source / stop land slide / increase productivity of the land/ improve economic condition / prevent natural disaster / stop migration to cities / weaken green house effect, etc.

Among the above mentioned answers (there may be much more), you can categorize the good points according to “who are the beneficiary”.

Good for the community itself / good for the local government / good for the city people / good for the national government / good for other countries / good for all the people in the world.

From this point of view, you can conclude that definitely there are good points for the outsiders if the community people recover and conserve the forest. Here, “THEIR ISSUE becomes OUR ISSUE”. Yes, in any of community development activities, we can say that there are good points for the outsiders, not only for the community itself, and therefore, we (outsiders) want to come to the community.

It is not easy to be involved

From the above explanation, you may clearly understand that the community people should be the main actors in community development, and there are various reasons why the outsiders need to be involved in the process of community development. Then, the question is how the outsiders can participate in community development. If you look into various examples of community development projects in your country, you may agree that it is not easy for the outsiders to be involved in by making the community people main actors. In many community development projects, villagers are just asked to participate in seminars or activities that the outsiders designed, and they did not become active to initiate anything, and at last the project activities stopped when the outside assistance ended.

The major reason for those occurrences is that “outsiders bring the core things from outside the community”. Those core things can be; basic concept, problem analysis, equipments and facilities, expertise, knowledge or technology, or just monetary assistance. Imagine that in your own community, an outsider comes in and tells you that “we analyzed your situation and found out the issue. This is the solution. The fund and other resources for the project is available. So please work with us”. How do you feel? Do you reject the offer? If the person looks senior or superior, or seems to have more knowledge than you, or definitely richer than you, do you dare to refuse what he / she tells to you?

You may say that “as an outsider, I have not push any concepts or projects to the community people, I always try to hear from them and be based on their needs”. Yes, you may be right. However, are you sure that the community people truly took initiative to start something and they will continue their activities without outsiders help? Have you experienced to come into a community without bringing any projects or funds? If the answer is no, it is worth trying the following methodology in your field.

Building partnership with the community
At first, when you as an outsider intend to start an activity with a community, what will you do? You may be instructed by your boss or funding agency to have a formal meeting with the village leaders. At the meeting, what will you discuss with the villagers? How will you explain your purpose to come into the village?

If you are already given a ready-made project with fixed objectives and activities, it might be easy for you to explain your purposes. However, are you sure that the project objectives and activities fixed before your interaction with the villagers are really based on the problems or needs of the community? Moreover, even if those objectives and activities are truly good for the villagers, do you think that the community members will easily realize your idea and take initiatives to participate in the project?

Here is a principle of “learning” that emerged from long time experience of human history. “If you hear it, you will forget it. If you see it, you will remember it. If you do it, you will understand it. And if you FIND IT, you will use it.” It is true that if a person feels “I by myself discovered it”, he / she wants to do some action by using that knowledge or skills newly acquired by himself / herself. On the contrary, if a person is just “taught” something by another person, he / she will not be so much interested and will not take initiative.

Therefore, in any community development activities, it is very much important that the community people themselves find out their own issue and search for the solution. The outsiders can only facilitate the process of issue analysis by the community people. Again, the main actors are the community people and the outsiders are the ones who accompany with them as partners.

Indeed, “to build partnership with the community” is an important key for outsiders to start any community-based activities. If you become a teacher or an expert for the community people, they will just listen to you and will not be able to “find out by themselves”. But if you can be a partner for them, there will be a possibility that the community people will take initiatives to do something.

Then, what should be done if you want to be a partner for the community people? Please try to list up the activities that you can do for partnership building as many as possible. You may have meeting with various community members (men, women, leaders, youths, elders, with various occupations, etc.). You may also participate in various occasions, activities, or events that the community people hold by themselves. You may also have informal interviews or dialogues with the community members while you are walking through the community.

There is an interesting word in Indonesian language that translated from English words “partnership building”. The word is “Pertemanan”. Teman in Indonesian language means friend. “Per” and “an” are the prefix and suffix that indicate some actions to realize the root word. So, “Pertemanan” means “becoming friends”. Our Indonesian friends who are involved in community development translated the word “partnership building” into “becoming friends”. It is a very much suitable wording, don’t you think so? We need to become friends for the community people who can accompany with them at an equal status (not a teacher or instructor who bring something down from outside).

Finding FACTS and making hypothesis
After or while doing partnership building with the community, what an outsider have to do is “finding out and analyzing the real issue of the community”. There must be various “needs” or “problems” felt by the community people. There might be some problems felt by an individual but the other community members do not feel they are the problems. There might be some other problems that the community members feel “it is a problem” but they have been waiting for solutions from outside without taking any initiatives by themselves. Here, we need to find out real issue of the community that the majority of them feel it is a problem and they are willingly taking actions for solution.

In order to find out such an issue, what should be done? Of course, we need to know the reality of the community. So, in order to know the real situation of the community, what can be done? There are various ways to do so both outside and inside the community. Let us list up.

Collecting statistical data / checking documents related with the community / hearing from local administration / interviewing with those who know the community

Observation / hearing or interview / meeting / survey (using questionnaire or other means)
Among the above ways, “direct observation in the community” is a simple but effective way to know the reality of the community. By just walking through the community, you can acquire various kinds of information on various matters, such as natural, demographic, geographical, economic, social, cultural, religious, or even historical situation of the community. In the observation, you have to utilize your five senses, not only seeing, but hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching.

After acquiring various types of information through observation, what is the next step? You have to make hypothesis about the community. The hypothesis should be sentences that describe either present condition of the community, past and future of the community, or the problems faced by the community. Here, it is very important that the hypothesis should be based on the FACT that you found through the observation. For example, among the below things acquired by observation, which is the FACT?

a) We have seen many cows and goats in the households.

b) Most of the community people raise livestock.
c) One of the main sources of income of the community is livestock rearing.
It is clear that the sentence a) is a fact that you witnessed. But the sentence b) is just your impression after walking through the community. And the sentence c) is an assumption or hypothesis about the situation of the community. Here, it is the most important for you to be based on the FACT. So, please do not confuse your impression or even assumption with the FACT that you have to be based on.
After making hypothesis about the community, what should be done? Of course, you need to clarify or testify the hypothesis. In order to do it, you again have to collect information through observation, interview, or other means. Here, at this stage, having dialogue or interview with the community people will be an effective and necessary way to find out the real issue of the community. Again, it is very important that you have to find out FACT through the interview. So, among the following questions, which one is the question asking the FACT?
a) Do you like raising livestock?
b) Is livestock rearing your major source of income?
c) How many livestock do you have? When did you sold last time? How much price could you sell it?
Definitely, the question c) is the right question to ask FACTS. The question a) is just asking his / her preference or feeling. And the question b) seems to ask fact, but actually, it is a question to ask “thinking” or “perception” of the respondent. In the question b), the respondent will think whether livestock rearing is his (her) major source of income, and he (she) will define the meaning of “major source of income” by himself (herself), and will give the answer. Thus, the answer thoroughly depends on his / her own perception about “major source of income”.
In fact, at many interviews, we tend to ask the respondents’ perception, not the real FACT. And as a result, in many cases, community development projects are based on only the perception of the people, not the real FACTS. That means such projects are not based on real issue of the communities, and there is not much possibility that such projects will become sustainable ones.

Analyzing the information and pointing out the issue
After collecting facts through observation, interview, and other means, you need to point out the issue of the community. It requires a process of analysis for finding out the issue. The followings are some tips or hints for analyzing the facts.

1) Focusing on natural resources

In any of the local communities especially in rural areas, most of the livelihood of those communities is very much depending upon natural resources surrounding them. If it is an agricultural community, the people require land, water, and forest resources for their productive activities. In a fishermen community, it is necessary to check the sea, lakes, or the rivers. There might be some other natural resources such as sand, rock, or grasses that can be utilized for producing something. In the issue analysis, you may focus on those natural resources, and check how the community people manage and utilize those resources.
2) Focusing on physical infrastructure
In the communities, various infrastructural facilities are playing important roles for the everyday life of their members. Roads, irrigation canals, bridges, water supply and drainage, or electricity are the infrastructures necessary for productive and other daily activities for the community people. Buildings such as schools, hospitals, or markets are also important physical infrastructure for the community members. Some of those infrastructure were constructed and maintained by the outsiders (mainly by government institutions), but there are many cases that the community people themselves are actively involved in managing those infrastructure facilities.

3) Focusing on cultural matters
It can be said that not only physical conditions, but also cultural or traditional matters (events or rituals) are also important factors for the life of community people. There are various cultural occasions the community people gather, do something collectively, enjoy together, and as a result create sense of belongings among them. Thus, it is worth analyzing such cultural or traditional events or rituals to understand “un-visible” factors that make community people live together.

4) Analyzing through human aspects
More or less, all the items above are usually maintained or managed by community people themselves. In the process of issue analysis, it is required to check how the community people maintain, utilize, or manage the above factors. You can find out various groups or organizations involved in the management. There might be regulations or norms that control the management. There will be some decision making system in such groups or organizations.

If you look into human aspects of the community, it is also required to check the “diversity” of the community. In a community, there might be some minority groups such as ethnic / religious minority, economically backward families, disabled persons, or others. There should be gender un-equality in various aspects within the community. And as a result of such diversities, there might be some conflicts among them.

In addition, it is also necessary to analyze various stakeholders involved in the process of maintenance, utilization, or management. As stakeholders, there might be outside groups such as NGOs, private companies, government institutions, or academicians, etc. It is required to check the relations between community and outsiders.

5) Settling into macro context
In the process of issue analysis, the most important point is to put the real situation (facts of the community) into a larger framework (macro context) of the society. In the modernized world with growing trend of globalization, not a single community can exist without interaction to the outside world. Local or national government policies, national or international economic conditions, and various groups or individuals outside have been influencing the life of community people. Information acquired by the community members through mass media or IT also has great impact on community people’s behavior and thinking.
And the most importantly, you need to put all the factors mentioned above into “time trend” of the world. Natural resource management, physical infrastructure maintenance, various organizations and regulations, diversity of the community, various

stakeholders, and interaction and influence of outside world……….. All those aspects / factors need to be reviewed from the perspective of time trend. What was it in the past? What are the changes in resent years? What will be in the future? By putting all the factors into the macro context (inside – outside & past – future), finally, you may be able to find out the real issue of the community. It is the issue that most of the community people feel important for their life, consider urgent to be solved, and can find out any collective actions to solve it.
Sharing the issue and stimulating community actions
After finding out real issue of the community, you as an outsider have to share it with the community people. Of course, if you have already involved the community members in the whole process of collecting facts and analyzing issue from the beginning, the community people may have already realized the issue. Otherwise, if the outsiders alone collected the facts and analyzed the issue, then they need to share it with the community people.

In that case, the outsiders should make the community people realize the issue and stimulate them to take actions for tackling it. They may have formal meetings with the community people for sharing the issue. They may also have more informal way such as having dialogue or conversation with some of the community members. In either occasion, it is very important that the outsiders should use simple and easily-understood words when they explain the issue to the community members. You may use analogies, concrete examples, case studies, or experiments so that even the community people without formal education can easily understand. It is also important to find out suitable words or expressions of the issue so that the heart of each community member will be touched and his / her mind will be moved to do something.

In order to stimulate the actions of the community after sharing the issue, it is also very important that throughout the process of issue analysis and sharing, the outsiders should find out some key persons who will take initiatives for tackling the issue. Of course, if the issue found by outsiders is really understood by the community people, there must be someone who are moved so much and start feeling urgent to do something for tackling the issue. The role of outsiders in this point is to find out the right persons and encourage them to start some actions. Even if there is only one person who has been deeply touched by the presentation of real issue of the community, it will definitely become a core force for the community to do something for overcoming the issue and seeking for better future.

Lastly, when the community people start doing something for tackling the issue, an approach called “Jimotogaku” can be a good way to find out and utilize existing local resources for sustainable community-based actions. It is a unique approach based on field experience of Japanese communities where community people find out “hidden” local resources and create new actions with the help of outsiders’ perspectives. If you like to know the details, please refer to the back number of this Newsletter “Community Facilitation and Mediation” (Vol.8, March 2009).

Tips for conducting training workshop on “roles of outsiders”

By M. Nagahata (i-i-network)

Among your colleagues, counterparts, or community people, there may be a chance to have training workshop for thinking about roles of outsiders. The following tips may help you to have such workshops or seminars where the participants will be able to review their activities and to find out appropriate approach to community development as outsiders. The article shown in the previous pages of this newsletter can be a reading material for the workshop or seminars.

Exercise 1: “Reviewing history of your community”

Question & Instruction:
Try to look back your community as much as possible. When did the community people start living there? What were the important events or happenings occurred in the community throughout its history? Who were involved in those events or happenings, and what were the actions taken by the community members in response to such events or happenings?

It can be easy for the participants to make a chronological table of the community. “What happened” “Who are involved” “What was response of the community” are the items that should be reviewed in each event or happening. It is advisable that the participants should choose one community where at least one of the participants lives and know the history. This exercise can also be taken place in a community where various community members are invited to think together.

Purpose of the exercise:
To recall the memory of a community, and to find out how the community people themselves acted and reacted in each event or happening with their own initiatives.

Exercise 2: “Initiatives of community members”

Question & Instruction:
Choose any one of community development projects that the participants are involved. Review all the activities in the projects from the beginning until the present time. Try to find out whether community people start something by themselves in relation with the project activities. If there are such cases, look into the details of the actions. In which circumstances, community people took initiatives to take part in the project?

In this exercise, the participants have to find out the cases where the community people took real initiative to do something. In development projects, there might be various opportunities for the community members to “participate in” the ready-made activities already designed by outsiders. But those are not the things we need to find out in this exercise. In the projects, there might be a time when the community people themselves took initiatives to do something without being instructed or even without any support from the outsiders. We need to explore the process of those actions.

Purpose of the exercise:
To review community people’s actions within a development project and to analyze the process and background of community’s own initiative.

Exercise 3: “Knowledge matrix”

Question & Instruction:
Among various knowledge or skills, please categorize them into the following matrix.

Try to find out concrete examples of knowledge and skills that can be fit to each category. It is advisable to find out 5 to 10 items for each category (box) in the matrix.

Purpose of the exercise:
To become aware of difference between outsiders and community people, to understand that there are many things that the community people know but the outsiders do not know, and to find out the reasons why the outsiders need to be involved in community development.

Exercise 4: “Whose issue is it?”

Question & Instruction:
Choose any one of issues that you think important for a community. Try to list up the good points that will be emerged if the community people can solve the issue (at least 30 points). Then, categorize the points according to “for whom the point is good”.

The issue can be taken from any kinds of sectors. The point of the exercise is to find out good points as many as possible. At first, you may find out a few good points mainly for the “beneficiaries” themselves. However, if you try to find out more and more, you will be able to understand that the issue is not only for the target community people, but also for the outsiders as well.

Purpose of the exercise:
To become aware that an issue of a community can also be an issue for the outsiders, and to understand that there is another reason why outsiders need to be involved in the community other than only for the beneficiaries themselves.

Exercise 5: “Exercise of M”

Question & Instruction:
Prepare a large sheet of paper and write a letter “M” with a bold red marker. Ask the participants to stand up and gather in a circle. Show the sheet and put it on the floor. Then, ask the question to the participants; “What is it on the paper?”

Some of the participants can answer that “it is M”, but some others may say “it is W”, “it is E”, “it is 3”, or even “it is mountain” “it is a breast of a woman”. All the answers are right. However, if a participant who stands in front of you answers that “it is M”, then, you should ask him / her “is it true?” “From your standpoint, is it really M?” Then, the person may understand that he / she see the letter not from his / her own standpoint but from the facilitator’s standpoint. Then, you can explain that in many cases of community development, the community people will answer to your question from your (outsider’s) standpoint or viewpoint, not from their own standpoint. You can ask the participants why the community people may respond like this.

Purpose of the exercise:
To realize different standpoints between community and outsiders, and to be aware that despite the different viewpoints, the community people tend to tell the things from outsiders’ point of view, as a result, it is not easy for the outsiders to know the real view of the community people.

Exercise of " M"

Exercise 6: “Partnership building”
Question & Instruction:
Try to list up actions as many as possible that can be taken by the outsiders in order for them to construct partnership with the community members. There should be more than 30 points.

After listing up the actions, the participants can be asked to categorize them. There might be formal actions and informal actions. There may also be various actions taken with various types of community members.

Purpose of the exercise:
To think about partnership building, to find out that there are many actions that the outsiders can do in informal ways.

Exercise 7: “Observation and hypothesis making”

Question & Instruction:
Choose any one of communities, visit it, and walk through a part of the community area. Try to pick up FACTS as many as possible. After coming back from the community, make hypothesis based on FACTS found there.

It is advisable that the participants are asked not to interview to the community people. This is an exercise for conducting effective observation. The facilitator may give some hints of observation such as “focusing on natural resources”, etc. In the hypothesis making, please be careful not to confuse facts with hypothesis. It should also be noted that a hypothesis can be made from more than two facts, or on the contrary, from single fact, various hypothesis can be made.

Purpose of the exercise:
To experience observation, to realize difference between FACTS and Perception (hypothesis), and to learn how to make hypothesis based on FACTS.

Exercise 8: “Interview to explore FACTS”

Question & Instruction:
Make pairs among the participants. One person will ask questions to his / her partner. The topic of interview can be related with the participants’ everyday life, such as “what is your most urgent problem in recent days”.

Instruct the participants that they have to use only the questions that ask FACTS. The form of questions can be with “what” “who” “when” or “where”, but try to AVOID using “why” or “how” as those two question words ask the perception of respondent. By not using why or how, and exploring only the facts, the interviewer is requested to find out the real problem that his / her partner faces and its causes.
Purpose of the exercise:
To experience interview, to be accustomed with using FACT finding questions, and to learn how to explore facts in order to find out issues.


Local community – its functions for human life and changes in modern world

For hundreds of years, local communities have been an essential part of everyday life for human beings. Everyone belongs to a certain local community, and the community provides her/him with necessary basis for survival, production, re-production, and identity. However, as modernization prevails everywhere in the world, most of traditional local communities are facing rapid changes both in internally and externally. Even though local communities are still a core of life for many rural people, it is not easy for many local communities to maintain traditional collective activities, human relationship, norms and regulations.

If a development practitioner wants to facilitate community-based development activities, he/she must have clear understandings about basics of local community and recent changes it faces because of rapid modernization of the whole world. In this article, it is expected to provide you with some perspectives on local communities based on the history and experience of Japanese local communities.

Three functions of community

1) Between Human and Nature

From the very beginning, human beings have been utilizing natural resources for their survival. All kinds of food materials come from natural resources such as forests, grass lands, agriculture fields, rivers, and the sea. Water, an essential material for both human lives and agriculture production, is also a product of nature starting from rain fall, stored in forest and soils, and flowing through streams and rivers. Of course, besides foodstuff, people also need natural resources for their clothes and shelters. In other words, human beings totally depend on natural resources for their livelihood and production.

One of the important functions of local community is to manage these natural resources collectively in a sustainable way. If any kind of natural resources is over-exploited beyond the carrying capacity of the nature, that resource will be exhausted, and the livelihood of the people depending on that natural resource will be threatened as a result. In order to avoid such situation, and to be able to utilize natural resources sustainably, human beings have to construct systems of natural resource management among them. This is one of the reasons why human beings have to live together, interact together, and formulate “local community”.

In Japan, many communities have been maintaining “Iriai” system as a collective natural resource management system. Iriai is generally defined as “a system or organization where the local residents of a certain area (usually a community or several communities) jointly utilize and manage mountains, rivers and land.” Concrete rules and practices of iriai vary from place to place, and change from time to time, yet the unique characteristics of iriai practices are 1) Consensus by all, 2) Right of common property for the people living in a community, and 3) Equal access, equal responsibility among it.

Based on this iriai system described above, many community people in Japan have been maintaining forest and other natural resources vital for their livelihood collectively in a sustainable way.

There are rich natural resources in the rural area of Japan
(Kumamoto prefecture, Japan)

2) Between Human and Human

It can not be denied that every human being requires other’s help for his/her daily life. You can easily imagine that if you can not expect other people’s help except for your own family members, how your everyday life might be very difficult to live. You need others’ help for repairing roof materials, planting and harvesting agricultural products in a short period, or at a time of marriage or funeral ceremonies, or when you have to work outside without no other family members who take care of your children .

In Japan, there is a system called “Yui” that facilitate mutual help among community members. In many traditional communities, there are small groups consisting of neighboring families (yui) that provide mutual help for farm work that requires intensive input of labors such as planting and harvesting. There are also yui for repairing houses especially thatched roofs, and yui for funerals. Usually in those yui practices, there is no exchange of money between those who receive and those who provide helps. It is basically reciprocity relations among community members.

There is another practice of mutual help in traditional communities of Japan, called “Kou”. Kou is a kind of self-help groups where community people gather for particular objectives such as religious, financial, or entertainment matters. There are kous mainly for economic activities such as “tanomoshi-kou” that is one of good examples of ROSCA (Rotated Savings and Credit Association).

By observing such practices of mutual help in the traditional communities of Japan, we can conclude that human beings require communities that provide mutual help relations among members for their everyday life, production, and re-production.

3) Between Human and God(s) or Between Generations

Apart from materialistic point of view, communities have been providing most of human beings with mental or psychological security for them. Sense of belongings, or feeling of “being at home” is important for most of us to maintain own identities. This sense of belongings is created through the fact that the members of a community share the same history, tradition, culture, same natural resources, and same destiny. They feel that they are not alone, connected with not only each others, but with super-natural, spirits, or the god(s). They also think that their community has been continuing from generation to generation, thus they feel strong ties with their ancestors and descendants. Even the people living in modern cities feel that they belong to original local communities where they are from, and in long holidays, we observe that millions of city dwellers rush to their home villages or towns in many countries.

In Japan, “Matsuri” (festival) of “Uji-gami-sama” (locally believed guardian deity) is one of the important annual events for traditional communities. There are various ceremonies and rituals for praising their Uji-gami that have to be followed by the community members, and every part of community has particular role to play in the festival. By participating in the matsuri, community members can strengthen sense of belongings, and also feel strong tie with the nature, history, ancestors, and supernatural in their community.

Community people hold “Matsuri” (Shiga prefecture, Japan)

Rules and regulations shared and followed

Those three functions of community described above require specific rules and regulations that are commonly accepted and followed by the community members. In the case of Iriai forests in Japan, there are various kinds of rules in each community to control usage of forest so that the natural resources in the forest are maintained in a sustainable way.

When community members discuss about any decision regarding rules or regulations of the community, there should be specific decision making system for each community. In Japan, “Yoriai” is a common practice of decision making system in traditional communities. Usually, all the heads of households in the community attend a yoriai meeting, and the decision of yoriai meeting is taken unanimously, not by majority vote. It is very important that all the participants share experiences and views among each others, and finally reach accommodation based on all the participants’ views and opinions. After the decision of yoriai meeting, all the members are expected to follow the rules or regulations, and there is also a system of sanctions or penalties for those who do not obey them.

The above described functions of communities might be specific characteristic of Japan based on particular historical and cultural background. There must be many variations of real communities in terms of their functions and internal systems reflecting various socio-economic and cultural background of each community. However, as we see the very nature of human beings, it is inevitable that we require any kinds of “groups of people” that manage relations between human and nature, human and human, and human and the supernatural. And for a long time, local communities have been playing much important role for such functions, and therefore they have maintained own system of decision making.

Decline of local community

However, in many countries including Japan, functions of local communities described above have already declined as modernization started and has taken deep root in the society. Even in the developing countries, ties of traditional communities have started to weaken as western life style and urbanization took place. Why local communities decline as a society is modernized? If we look into the world history, we can find two major factors that characterize progress of modernization; nation state and capitalistic market economy.

1) Nation State to become absolute power to manage resources

Modern state is characterized to have centralized government that holds absolute power to control over resources within its territory. In Japan, when “Meiji” government took over from feudal “Edo” shogun government in the late 19th Century, it introduced a policy to abolish iriai system, and tried to convert community-owned forests to be national properties or private ones. Main objective for the policy was to ensure taxation from land owners, but it also aimed at utilizing natural resources in the country much more effectively in order to achieve rapid economic development. Some of the forests that had become national properties were utilized for mining or manufacturing factories. Such practices of nation states to nationalize and commercialize community properties still occur in many of the developing countries.

Nation states also created “citizens” who hold identity to the nation. In order to integrate all the areas within the territory at early times, and then to compete with other nation states especially at the era of imperialism, it required its citizens to feel strong identity to the nation. Later on, when democracy became common value for the nation states, the governments (both central and local) have become entities that hold sole responsibilities to protect their citizens and to provide necessary services to them.

All those things above have influenced functions of local communities. They lost rights to manage various natural resources originally owned and controlled by the communities, and as a result, collective actions in the communities based on own decision making system have also declined. Creation of national citizens also influenced sense of belongings of the community people who now feel more identity to broader entities such as nation, ethnicity, or even “global citizens”. And finally, introduction of “welfare state” that provides necessary services to its citizens has weakened functions of mutual help in the local communities.

2) Market Economy to generate “individuals based on economic value”

Another driving force of modernization, capitalist market economy, has also given crucial influence on the functions of local communities. It requires a system of “absolute right of property” that enables free economic interaction among the individuals. Communal lands were converted into private individual properties so that people can easily sell and buy in order to gain economic benefit. Again, control over common property resources by local communities was demolished and people became more and more individualistic to pursue economic gain. Community people who sought cash income migrated into the cities and became labor force for industries, and as a result, community ties and the system of mutual help were destroyed.

In addition to those physical impacts on community functions, penetration of market economy gave deep influence on the values of traditional local communities. In the world of market economy, everything is measured by economic rationality. It does not give value on voluntary actions if they do not produce immediate economic benefit. “Time is money” has become important motto for most of “modernized” citizens. Mutual help, or reciprocity relations among community members are considered not to be economically rational. People have become much busy in pursuing individual economic benefit rather than giving time for “un-productive” or “non-profitable” activities of local communities.

Modernization has deep root in the society ( Tokyo, Japan)

Yet, we need something similar to communities

Thus, as nation state and capitalist market economy are the two key driving forces for modern world, we have to admit that the decline of local community is inevitable. In the modernized globalization era, this is a common phenomenon that is observed in almost all the places in the world. However, is there nothing remains for local communities to play any role or function in the modern or post-modern world of globalization?

The answer may be “no”, if you look into the present situation of Japanese society. There are many problems faced by Japanese people, such as rapid aging society with fewer children, depopulation in the rural area and too individualistic over-populated urban area, increasing number of economically poor households, or violent crimes both in urban and rural areas. In general, it becomes obvious that the government of Japan (central and local) can not provide all the necessary public services to the people because of financial deficit and limitation of their resources. On the other hand, private sector can not cover all the necessity of the people because it has to compete in the global market to gain profit. It is because of such limitation of both public and private sectors to provide sufficient services that the non-profit and non-government organizations (NPOs and NGOs) are increasingly playing important roles for tackling various problems in Japan.

Yes, other than nation state and market economy, we need something similar to the traditional local communities that are able to manage common property resources, to facilitate mutual help, and to give us sense of belongings. It can be a revival or re-construction of local communities, or it can also be new types of communities, such as NPOs now being much active in Japan.

Local community in Indonesia

By M. Nagahata (i-i-network)