Also known as Intercultural Community Work, ICW is SIL's approach to community development with vernacular literacy as its foundation.
Community development (CD) is the process of helping a community strengthen itself and develop towards its full potential. As facilitators, we work in partnership with local people and organizations to meet identified needs. We believe that literacy is a key component of sustainable development.
Purpose, Projects, Process
PURPOSE: SILs purpose in CD is holistic people-centered development (e.g. spiritual, physical, social, economic, intellectual).
PROJECTS: Since language is a major tool that people use in meeting their needs, SILs approach to CD is based on language. In many communities we assist in the design of a suitable alphabet and a body of useful literature, as well as training aimed at the spread of reading skills and practices. Thus, literacy projects are foundational development projects wherever SIL partners with communities. Responding to the specific needs of a community result in other kinds of projects, such as health education, agricultural improvement, and income generation.
PROCESS: The process in CD is crucial to the project outcome. We seek to follow a process that builds people up as they work together toward a common goal.
Over the years, ten principles have been formulated in SIL as a definition of a healthy process of CD.
- Start where the people are.
- Build relationships; then introduce new ideas, showing how they meet identified needs.
- Keep projects simple.
- Involve as many community people as possible in all activities from the start.
- Train people close to their home communities.
- Train in locally acceptable ways (e.g. methods, facilities).
- Train trainers who can train others.
- Involve local leadership.
- Cooperate with governments.
- Encourage interdependent relationships vs. dependent or totally independent relationships.
For the full version of these principles with a brief discussion of their use in SIL fieldwork, see A process to guide decision making for development activities in language programs, by Larry Yost and Hugh Tracy.
Qualifications and opportunities
The qualifications for a CD specialist in SIL and opportunities for service are discussed in a separate document.
- The Stranger's Eyes, by Joyce
A failed community development project reveals the difference in perception between the villagers and the expatriate initiator.
- Reflections on
"The Stranger's Eyes", by Hugh Tracy
What can we learn from the unfortunate experience of a failed community development project? What cultural homework is needed in community development work?
- Community development
through indigenous leadership, by Dennis Olson
Since the bilingual education program began in Peru, the Aguaruna have seen development through their own leaders. This paper discusses the dynamics of their leadership and the author's experiences as he worked with them as an ICW specialist.
- My role and training as an
ICW specialist, by Steve Mann
Contrasts the more traditional approach of CD by means of "projects" with the broader view based on a process to strengthen the initiative of a group of people.
- Toward Defining "Sustainable
Development" in the SIL Context, by Bud Larsen
Recognizing the integrity of local knowledge and initiative helps us to assume healthier roles that will encourage sustainable development.
Other resources on the Web
- Cultural Survival
"A non-profit organization founded in 1972 to defend the human rights and cultural autonomy of indigenous peoples and oppressed ethnic minorities"
Fights world hunger through ideas, information, and seeds
- Equip, Inc.
Appropriate Technology Institute and other training for overseas service
"A training center designed to prepare people to serve effectively in the Third World"
- The Heifer Project
Helping hungry families feed themselves and care for themselves
"Trains Christian leaders to reach the poor with self-help methods"
- World Neighbors
"To lessen the effects of hunger, disease, and poverty"
- World Vision
Community-based transformational development, focused on the needs of children