Asset Based Community Development (ABCD)

20 April 2020

Three staff members from BSK attended a three day (29, 30 and 31 October 2013) workshop on “Asset Based Community Development’ at “Balavikas” training Center at Kazipoet, Warangal District. The main resource person was Mr. Shoury Reddy the director of Balavavikas training center. Mr. Chandrashekar, Mr. Job and Mr. Ratnaraju, the three coordinators of BSK participated in the training program.

The training started with a group exercise in which participants discussed in groups about the methods they would adopt if they were assigned a poor slum area for community development work. The groups presented various approaches for designing a development plan for the area. The prominent elements in all these plans was the assessment of the needs of the community, programmes designed to meet the needs and people’s participation. This is termed as a need based approach to development.

Over the years, from 1950 to 2000s the approach to development has changed from development to the people, for the people, through the people, with the people and around 2000 it was all about empowering the people. Today there is a paradigm shift in community development concept. Today the concept is ABCD Asser based Community Development. The stress is on the ASSETS the community has at the time of intervention. These assets are:

  1. Capacities and talents of the people
  2. Peoples associations (existing and potential)
  3. Local institutions
  4. Physical and natural resources

In the need based approach the only resource was donor “money” nothing can happen without this. Now it is the relationship among the people. In the old method the development spreads thin as the money is exhausted in the new method the development tends to snowball over time. In the old method success is measured by the “outcomes” planned by the outside agency, now success is measured by the capacity of the people. Focusing on needs and deficiencies can make people lose sight of what they have already accomplished and what they have the capacity to do. The Needs Map builds a negative image of the community where only outside experts can. It deepens dependency, undervalues social capital, rewards failure, focus on leaders who magnify deficiencies, opts for a survival strategy and funds directed to hiring experts. The ABCD concept evolved from the existing concepts like:

  1. The Sustainable Livelihoods Approach
  2. The Social Capital Approach
  3. The Community Economic Development Approach
  4. The Civil Society Building up Approach

The ABCD Community Development concept can be considered as:

  1. An approach to development
  2. As a methodology to development
  3. As a strategy to development
  • As an approach to the community, the recognition of the strength, gifts, talents and assets of the community is more likely to inspire positive action for change than the exclusive focus on needs and problems
  • As a methodology it gets us to know the community through an appreciative enquiry, mapping the assets and social capital, identifying assets and opportunities, linking and mobilizing the assets and motivate the people to sustain the process. The three “D”s of the ABCD development methodology are:
  1. Discover – Appreciate the community in its time of excellence
  2. Dream – challenging the status quo and envision a future and passion to attain it
  3. Design – Creation of a social structure that articulates the dream
  4. Deliver – create ways to attain the dream
  • As a strategy, the corner stone of development is capacity building with emphasis on change of mindset, creating a vision for the community, development of new leaders, associations, and institutions. Development is from within.

The third day of the training was devoted to visiting the model village that of Balavikas “Gangadevipally” which has won numerous awards at the district, national and international levels for different parameters of development like total sanitation, nil school drop outs, total housing etc The people of Gangadevipally came to Bala Vikas as they had no drinking water (ground water has excess fluoride. The village people started with a water committee which decided to contribute 15% of the cost of the purification plant. The committee was not only able to collect the money from residents but also maintains the plant with the sail of water (Rs. 2/20 Lts.). The success of this committee led to formation of the education committee, sanitation committee, housing committee etc.- 20 committees in all which look after every aspect of development of the community. The interactions we had with the leaders of the community was a good learning experience on the ABCD concept.