Community Dialogue is a continuous mutual exchange of views,ideas and opinions between people or groups of people aimed at developing mutual understanding and seeking a solution. It recognizes existing knowledge, skills and capabilities of communities that can be used to improve or change their situation for the better.
The overall aim of Community Dialogue in Uganda is to increase the level of concern in communities about the issues that affect them and to catalyze actions that improve their standard of living.
Self Help Groups (SHGs) are established on people's institutions (with 10-20 members) which are based on three pillars:
2) Social and
3) Political empowerment.
To implement the Self-Help-Group approach successfully, local NGOs are needed, who consider it as a promising tool to empower people and who allocate competent staff towards it.
It is important to highlight the voluntary service of the many women in the communities who facilitate the Self-Help-Groups on the ground: The Community Facilitators. It is only because of them that the Self Help Group approach can expand the way it is spreading – turning the lives of people for the better.
In the process of implementing the approach, it is important to link the approach with a Rights Based Approach focusing on Human Rights and a special emphasis on Child Rights. The concept has a clear focus on empowerment. It looks at poverty as denial of rights and alleviation of poverty as reclaiming ones rights. In implementing this concept, the emphasis is on:
i. Identifying the very poor, mobilizing them and helping them realize their rights. To build their capacity such that they can claim their rightful place in society;
ii. Bringing an attitudinal change in members such that they can unleash (exploit) their God -given potential. This is achieved by helping the member realize that s/he is of worth, has the potential and can take steps forward for ones own development;
iii. Building a strong People's Institution by bringing together large numbers of people together in small homogenous groups that are meeting and sharing on a regular weekly basis. The small groups are bound together by a second level association and an apex body at the top. This homogenous body is able to bring structural changes in the environment;
iv. Handing overall ownership and responsibility to the People's Institution after building their capacity to carry on their own. The people's institution operates independently, such that the whole programme is sustainable.
v. Working with people in such a way is a tremendous and very motivating experience. It is therefore not surprising that many NGOs develop an interest for this approach.
I have not gone into details, but experts can tell us which is the better model for Uganda, may be a hybrid?