Community Participation in Poverty Reduction Interventions: Examiningthe Factors that impact on the Community-Based Organisation (CBO) Empowerment Project in Ghana
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Hence, in this mini-thesis I argue that community participation does not automatically facilitate gains for the poor. My main assumption is that internal rigidities in communities, such as weak social capital, culture, trust and reciprocity, affect mutual cooperation towards collective community gains. I used two communities, where a community empowerment project is implemented, as a case study to demonstrate that the success of community participation is contingent on the stocks of social capital in the community. The results show that the responsiveness of the two communities to the project activities differs with the stocks of social capital. I found that trust among community members facilitates information flow in the community. The level of trust is also related to the sources of information of community members about development activities in the community. I also found that solidarity is an important dimension of social capital, which determines community members’ willingness to help one another and to participate in activities towards collective community gain. The research also demonstrated that perception of community members about target beneficiaries of projects - whether they represent the interest of the majority of the community or only the interest of community leaders - influences the level of confidence and ownership of the project. From my research findings, I concluded that, in order for community participation to work successfully, development managers need to identify the stocks of social capital in the community that will form the basis to determine the level of engagement with community members in the participatory process.