Use of community development strategies to induce common welfare decisions
Ledogar, Eleanor Price.
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The development of informal sector industries has been proposed as a method for coping with the growing problem of unemployment, underemployment and poverty in urban Zambia as in other parts of the world. Among the many questions raised by this approach is whether or not such development will favour private enterprise and the advancement of Individuals who are already relatively advantaged rather than whole groups or communities and the less advantaged individuals among them.An opportunity to test a communitarian approach to informal sector development presented itself in a new community of resettled families on the outskirts of Lusaka where a portion of land had been set aside for small industries. A set of specific Community Development strategies was employed in an effort to induce that community to develop the land by forming small industrial cooperatives that would create employment for the unemployed and underemployed members of the community itself. The strategies used were classic Community Development ones: Community Development workers provided the residents with information from a previously conducted survey of community resources - skills, tools and equipment, and tried to induce them to use these resources in a communally beneficial way. The working hypothesis was that the community, when presented with reasonably complete information about its own resources could be induced to make decisions about the use of those resources which would favour the common welfare rather than that of only a small number of already more advantaged individuals.The inducement efforts failed and the hypothesis was not borne out. The community's decision was to use the land in a way that favoured individual enterprises. It expressed antipathy toward cooperatives based on previous experiences and showed little interest in helping the unemployed. It also insisted that food retailing be joined with small industries on the same piece of land.In spite of the failure of the inducement efforts to achieve the specified goals, there were some positive outcomes to the exercise. The community participated fully and enthus¬iastically in both the survey and the decision-making process. It did not preclude the possibility for future cooperative business development, and its decision to combine the sites for food retailing and other economic activities was a some one.The implications of this decision, together with information gathered by the preliminary survey, are examined and discussed in so far as they shed light on informal sector development in Zambia and the general theory and practice of Community Development.