Balancing scale and participation - community definition challenges

A major lesson from Liberia and Uganda has been about the tradeoffs of working at different scales of ‘community.’ Large areas protect a lot of land and common resources, but ensuring representation and participation among large, spread out populations is very challenging. Small areas are easier to mobilize to meetings, but the area protected is less, common areas may be left out, and there are many more borders to harmonize across the landscape.

  • How are you balancing scale and participation?
  • What strategies are you using to ensure participation across the geographic area, across the population and different sub-groups, and among the sub-units (villages, towns, settlements etc.)?

To ensure coverage,I have to visit the villages and organize small meetings there but with the same message on CLP. We realize this helps to address a section of community members who might not be able to attend a community wide meeting.Another approach is taking advantage of events in the community like the leaders meeting,women meetings,youths after their eveing matches or during their hang out.

Thank you @SAMORAI - how about for the community of Nessuit? It is very large (~15,000 people +) and covers a large area. What are the advantages and disadvantages of working with Nessuit as one big community? How will you decide if it is a good scale for doing this work? Or is there a way to divide it into smaller areas?

@marena,The community of Nessuit is quite complex but in carry out the CLP I can see you suggesting a solution.Dividing the community into smallers groups is one way of which to us means working through villages.however,a challenge is likely to arise where one village is not active or slowly responds to the process and hence we have to consider how in the end are we going to harmonize all these.Another disadvantage is on the resources use; several meetings have to be done involving sometimes more CLM,committees/sub-committees than you had anticipated. The advantage of such a community in the CLP is that most community resources are protected.There is also a likelihood of high impacts when we tap into the leadership of the community.

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This is such an interesting topic, LEMU in Uganda faced this challenge in 2014 and here I will briefly narrate what LEMU did to deal with the challenge.

1.Facilitate simultaneous some of the CLP meetings (especially rules writing) at discrete units of the community (individual villages), this ensures more people are reached as meetings are convened closure to them. The challenge is that this option requires more facilitators, in LEMU’s context, the ICC was trained on facilitation and asked to take up roles of co-facilitation.

2.Not all meetings can be facilitated at Village level, therefore for such meetings consider an extensive mobilization through many different avenues such as posters at market places, schools, messages in churches during worship time, Radio announcements, direct phone calls with influential members of the community, the CLP team arrives in the community 45mins earlier than allocated and walks to nearby homes and leaders to talk to them about the meeting, production of a CLP Song to further the message and ensure support to the CLP etc. At such community wide meetings, introduction is done villages by villages and reasons provided why attendance is high or low.

3.Talk with the community members to allow the best time for meetings where all the different groups (Women, elderly, seasonal users) can attended. Other communities will choose a specific day of the week and specific time which the CLP group then follows.

4.Involve state, cultural and faith based leaders together with the ICC in the mobilization process so that all leaders are involved (this ensure legitimacy of the meeting) and more people are reached.

David LEMU - Uganda