Most remote and poor communities have very difficult challenges to overcome. Some common difficulties often encountered in these communities include:
- Lack of electricity
- Lack of clean drinking water
- Bad roads
- Lack of human and material resources
- Dependence on poorly managed natural resources
- Frequent outbreaks of epidemics and viruses
- Lack of medical facilities
- Poor communication with the outside world
- Strict and unprofitable traditional and cultural adherence
- Knowledge limitations or reluctance to apply objective methods
Populations are increasing. Resources are diminishing. Crises of diverse nature are developing from one end of the globe to the other. Many people aren’t able to respond to their basic needs. As states DARA ‘the needs of affected populations far outweigh available resources and capacity to respond’ (DARA, 2014). All these existing and emerging challenges are a nightmare to community project implementers. Nevertheless, research and innovation continuously generate effective tools to help people confront problems effectively. Community project implementers can obtain satisfactory results with the following five tools;
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1- Strategic Planning (SP)
Every community needs a vision. People need to know where they’re coming from. They also need sufficient understanding of what they want to achieve. Many people in interior and poor communities are confused because they lack a vision. SP is a tool that helps you to define a clear vision, appropriate mission statement, values and strategic approaches to achieve the vision. SP helps you see into the near future. It helps you evaluate your resources. With SP, you can identify all important internal and external stakeholders. SP enables you develop an effective stakeholder engagement plan to achieve your vision. A community that utilizes SP sets a good foundation to achieve effective solutions to satisfy the needs of its people.
2- Human-Centered Design (HCD)
In the past, most communities relied on simple brainstorming. For many years, brainstorming helped to generate solid ideas and encourage group action. Brainstorming is still very important and widely used in many communities. In recent years, however, brainstorming techniques have been developed further. Most innovation is achieved through design. But the field of design is vast, complex, diverse and consists of many areas of specialization. In community development, HCD is efficient in obtaining concrete results. HCD combines a variety of methods and techniques to unite people. Using HCD techniques, community participants work as a group to generate ideas. Trained facilitators mobilize community members to collect qualitative and quantitative data. Community members brainstorm over this data to discover key insights to realizable project opportunities. With the help of feedback, the people propose appropriate solution patterns and recommendations to their own problems. HCD processes are effective because they encourage participatory co-design and collaborative prototyping. HCD techniques involve ideation and innovation tournaments. Project ideas developed using HCD techniques are usually real, feasible, highly impactful and resourceful.
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3- Project Management (PM)
It’s good to generate project ideas. But generated project ideas come with implementation challenges. Where do resources come from? How do you utilize those resources? How do you implement the project in a cost-effective manner? When is the project suitable to implement? PM comes in to answer these and many other questions surrounding your project ideas. In PM, you see a project as a series of tasks that have a specific objective to be completed within certain specifications, have a start and end dates, have funding limits and consume resources. PM comprises a body of methods and tools that facilitate the achievement of project objectives within budget, cost and scope, and at the desired performance level, while effectively and efficiently utilizing resources and carefully managing risks and opportunities (Olivier de Weck and Reinhard Haberfellner, 2006). Interior communities might not utilize the most advanced software and IT-PM techniques. But even with a piece of paper, common PM tools such as the work breakdown structure (WBS), calculating the critical path (CP), the project review and evaluation (PERT), identifying loops, budgeting, identifying and managing risks and organizational structure (OBS) will be very helpful in classifying and utilizing resources to realize your project.
4- Lean Six Sigma DMAIC Techniques (LSS-DMAIC)
The tasks of a project can be implemented in various ways. But some implementation procedures are time-consuming and less cost-effective. Let’s assume that your task for the day is to collect feedback from 20 community members concerning a project. You can achieve this task by using various approaches. One approach is to contact these people individually and conduct interviews. Another way would be to organize a 2-3 hours brainstorming meeting. A third approach might be to formulate and distribute questionnaires. What do you notice? A day might not be enough to conduct personal interviews. Moreover, personal interviews might incur additional cost (transportation, food, etc). A questionnaire might land into the hands of someone who can neither read nor write. Your questionnaire can also be misunderstood. That means the quality of the feedback will be compromised. A meeting saves time and resources. It also allows you to produce quality feedback. But you’ll need to ensure that the right people attend it. What would you do?
LSS is a modern process management and improvement technique that helps you develop the best steps to accomplish your tasks. LSS techniques help you reduce implementation costs and time. They enable you to accomplish your tasks with ease. DMAIC stands for Define-Measure-Analyse-Improve-Control. With the LSS-DMAIC technique, you start by defining what you want to accomplish. In technical language, this is known as the project charter. Later on, you collect your data in the measuring phase. Once you have all your data, you analyse the information to identify bottlenecks. Bottlenecks are those little additions to your project implementation process that unnecessarily cost you more time, money and resources. LSS helps you identify and remove these bottlenecks. LSS techniques allow you to design improved and sustainable implementation processes.
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5- Information Technology (IT) & Communication Tools
You almost can’t do without appropriate communication tools today. You’ve got to be connected. You can’t achieve much in your little-closed world. The world is fast becoming a global village. From one end of the globe to the other, people support each other. Far gone are those days people dwelled in total obscurity. Technological inventions are the scientific miracles of our times. Your community members need to be aware of the ideas you generate. People don’t get involved if they aren’t properly informed. Nowadays, many remote communities have access to mobile tech and the internet. The internet offers many opportunities to build appropriate communication platforms and groups that focus on community development. On these platforms, you can exchange ideas and discover similar developments in other communities around the globe. Good social media tools to utilize these days to propagate your message include Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, Gmail, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, etc.
The challenge you’re facing isn’t really the problem. Other people do have challenges too. But they’re able to generate great ideas and solutions. Your reaction to the challenges you face is the real problem. It’s possible to slumber and let those challenges overcome you. But I know you aren’t one of those slumberers. You’re among those who are willing to learn and conquer. You want to see progress and well-being prevail, not poverty. The tools described above will help you courageously confront the challenges in your community and overcome them. Excellent results are waiting for you. You had better wake up and get to work!
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