Cumann na Daoine

A community based organisation in Youghal, Co. Cork, Ireland.

Community Development: What is it?

The United Nations defines Community development as “a process where community members come together to take collective action and generate solutions to common problems.” It is a broad term given to the practices of civic leaders, activists, involved citizens and professionals to improve various aspects of communities, typically aiming to build stronger and more resilient local communities.

Community development seeks to empower individuals and groups of people by providing them with the skills they need to effect change within their communities.

Community development is a process that acts through consultation with people on the ground, at grass-roots level, to identify their needs. Its core objective is to promote social inclusion and tackle the causes of inequality, marginalization and poverty. The belief is that everyone matters and has something to offer, and it draws on each individual’s talent for the betterment of their community. “Community development is a process whereby those who are marginalized and excluded are enabled to gain in self confidence to join with others and to participate in actions to change their situation and to tackle problems which face their community” (Combat Poverty, 1993)
As a consultative process community development acts as a catalyst for change and promotes active citizenship.

Cumann Na Daoine works from a set of community work principles in particular those of community development. It works from principles of equality, empowerment, and participation. “Community development exists as a means of encouraging better living for communities through community initiative and participation. As an ideal it encourages people who are excluded to become involved in the regeneration process in their own communities and at a wider social level”. (Burgess P, et al, 1996, p.3)