Jamie Bedson, International Director of Restless Development – a Youth-Led Development Agency – has sent us the following perspective on their methodology for community-led development.
Restless Development has been gradually honing its community engagement model over a couple of decades. While it differs across our country programs, essentially it is a model that emphasizes the structure and process of engagement, the “how” (community-led, recruitment, training, support, safety and security, monitoring) alongside the actual mobilization itself, the “what.”
Sierra Leone was for us a stress-testing of our model – the challenge was to see whether the (specifically adapted) model was robust enough to address those two elements that undermines donor support for community-led intervention more broadly: scale and accountability. At at output level it was successful: mobilizers and the communities they supported developed action plans in more that 8,000 communities and monitored these for 12 months. We are working on the data (from 49,000 mobilizer visits) that we believe will show success in terms of behavior change.
What also became clear though was that though many agencies were doing community engagement/mobilization, there are different interpretations and levels of quality. At one end, training 20,000 Community Health Workers for a day but not knowing what they were doing or where they were after that, compared to a fully structured and maintained network.
I’m attaching here:
- Our submission to the UK Parliament‘s inquiry into community engagement and health systems strengthening strengthening – this outlines our broad position. Also here is a blog summary.
- The are the Standard Operating Procedures for Community Engagement – Sierra Leone developed during Ebola by UNICEF/Govt. of Sierra Leone and based to a large degree on the Restless model developed for our consortium.
- The joint submission to the UN on prioritizing community engagement post-Ebola;
- FYI a couple of newsletters (Aug_2015 and February 2015) that describe our Ebola model – discusses scale etc.
- Here is a link to the variation on our model that we developed for Ebola. There is a full curriculum that goes along with this.
- Lastly, here is a report we conducted with our team members mid-implementation.
We’re still working on a more comprehensive strategy as a part of our upcoming 5 year strategy to be launched in August 2016, but we are certainly placing community engagement as a core element.