Sustain Hope is committed to best practice principles including:
In order for transformational development to occur, it must first start with individuals in the church and then extend to the community. The only way the process of change can take place is with the direct and active participation of church and community members and their ownership of the issues and responses that are a part of community development activities. Individuals, as part of their community, have the capacity to change the circumstances in which they live.
In order to do this, they must be intricately involved in the process from the beginning. The members of the local church and community should be involved in the identification of resources and needs, planning and design of responses, be part of the active decision making in a program, implementation, management, and evaluation of all activities. Consider TearFund’s Mobilizing the Church and Mobilizing the Community PILLARS publications as well as their Facilitation Skills Workbook to get started in this phase. tilz.tearfund.org/Publications/PILLARS/
Assessment is a process of learning about the community. This is everything from understanding the physical surroundings, to the individuals who make up the community, its culture, history, economic, social, health, education and a wide variety of other aspects. There are a number of activities that the missionary, national church leaders, church members and local community members can do to learn about the community.
These include questionnaires, surveys, interviews, focus groups, community mapping, observation, brainstorming and other actives that all incorporate the active involvement of the community. Ensuring the involvement of everyone from children through to the seniors and elderly in the community is important. There are numerous assessment tools and it depends on if the assessment has a focus.
Fruit that Remains can be assessed from compassionlink.org and offers a general assessment tool.
Consider TearFund’s ROOTS publication Project Cycle Management, which would also help with Program Design, till.tearfund.org/Publications/ROOTS/
Another publication by IICA, 80 Tools for Participatory Development is also very helpful and can be found at www.iic.int
As a result of what is identified by the community through the assessment process, the community through the assessment process, the community will then begin to develop a design on how to respond to the important issues their community is facing. Identifying the priorities, narrowing down to focus areas, preparing gas and objectives, developing an action plan which helps to identify who needs to do what, when and with which resources, and ensuring the consistent monitoring of activities helps to ensure progress continues with the community.
Evaluation is an important part of any activity. Knowing where a community desires to go with their activities and ensuring they are staying on track is part of the evaluation process. Being flexible in a program, revising where necessary, learning what is going right and what is not working and adjusting to a more appropriate and effective intervention are results of a solid evaluation. An evaluation does not need to be extensive. It also does not need to include outside consultants (though they can be used, if desired), as an evaluation can be developed with the participants of the community.
For a simple, step-by-step plan, consider the tool: Looking Back Looking Forward, a publication by Heifer International.
A helpful book is Partners in Evaluation by Marie-Therese Feurestein.