Home > community development, strategy > Community Development Principles and Practical Actions

Community Development Principles and Practical Actions

Julian Dobson usefully reminded me this morning;

Cracking on with ideas is good. Rooting them in community development principles and practical action is even better.

But what are these principles?  A quick bit of web research found this list from CDX in Sheffield:


Community development workers support individuals, groups and organisations in this process on the basis of certain values and practice principles.

The values at the core of community development are:

  • social justice
  • self-determination
  • working and learning together
  • sustainable communities
  • participation
  • reflective practice

The practice principles that underpin these values are:

Social justice

  • respecting and valuing diversity and difference
  • challenging oppressive and discriminatory actions and attitudes
  • addressing power imbalances between individuals, within groups and society
  • committing to pursue civil and human rights for all
  • seeking and promoting policy and practices that are just and enhance equality whilst challenging those that are not


  • valuing the concerns or issues that communities identify as their starting points
  • raising people’s awareness of the range of choices open to them, providing opportunities for discussion of implications of options
  • promoting the view that communities do not have the right to oppress other communities
  • working with conflict within communities

Working and learning together

  • demonstrating that collective working is effective
  • supporting and developing individuals to contribute effectively to communities
  • developing a culture of informed and accountable decision making
  • ensuring all perspectives within the community are considered
  • sharing good practice in order to learn from each other

Sustainable communities

  • promoting the empowerment of individuals and communities
  • supporting communities to develop their skills to take action
  • promoting the development of autonomous and accountable structures
  • learning from experiences as a basis for change
  • promoting effective collective and collaborative working
  • using resources with respect for the environment


  • promoting the participation of individuals and communities, particularly those traditionally marginalised / excluded
  • recognising and challenging barriers to full and effective participation
  • supporting communities to gain skills to engage in participation
  • developing structures that enable communities to participate effectively
  • sharing good practice in order to learn from each other

Reflective practice

  • promoting and supporting individual and collective learning through reflection on practice
  • changing practice in response to outcomes of reflection
  • recognising the constraints and contexts within which community development takes place
  • recognising the importance of keeping others informed and updated about the wider context

This looks like a pretty good list of design criteria.

  • Anything missing?
  • Anything better?

Reading through this list and reviewing some of the current enterprise and entrepreneurship programmes being delivered in the name of community development and regeneration I am finding it hard to find (m)any that don’t significantly fail several of these tests of principles and values.

  1. mantji
    September 2, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    principle of adaptiveness has been left out as it helps the community to rectify their mistakes during their development

    • sonto sibeko
      November 11, 2011 at 1:37 pm

      im 1 of
      cd practitioner but im jobless ineed help

  2. October 9, 2009 at 7:24 am

    Ibellive that lteracy is the key component of sustainabale development

  3. October 9, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Dear Sir.
    Thank you so much , please provide us with materials in issues in community development.

    • boniface otieno oriaro
      July 5, 2010 at 6:36 am

      this is to inform you that am happy with this materials and please provide with more of the materials that can guide me in teaching the student of the university thank you
      Lecturer university of the Nairobi Kenya

  4. Awiti Kenneth
    February 16, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    I found the info extremely useful!

    • Maria Simeon
      November 14, 2011 at 7:30 am

      Same here. Thank u!

  5. M.C. Moshou
    June 27, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    this is great stuff. I’m gonna use it in my proposal to the church to adopt a community development route.

  6. S.T. Thompson
    September 25, 2010 at 11:22 am

    as a 2nd year student, I found this very much helpful…keep up the good work guys

  7. thiong'o kamau
    January 12, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    very informative article; to learners lecturers and practioners.thanks.

  8. Wekoye Allan
    March 22, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    The work u provide is of very great importance and we appriciate that, please provide more.

  9. Nyanga O. Nyanga
    April 5, 2011 at 5:53 am

    This is very interesting especially for a Community Development Officer like myself. Its a great guide to Community Development work.

  10. shadia Mohammed
    May 2, 2011 at 7:18 am

    Thanks I am happy with this materials and please provide with more of the materials that can guide me in teaching the student of the university thank you. Iam writng book on community development . need information on the principles of community development.

  11. elizabeth jairo
    May 30, 2011 at 6:21 am

    a lot of information for a student like me.n thirsty for more please

  12. johannes
    August 17, 2011 at 7:59 am

    princple of human orientation is left out……this is to make victims in the community aware of the possible solution to the current situation

  13. Artur
    August 26, 2011 at 8:21 am

    1. Community development is a holistic approach to addressing the community’s needs.
    It encompasses the social,cultural,and economic aspects of society.
    a) People are of primary importance in community development.
    b) Community economic development is a citizen-led process dedicated to improving lifestyles by sharing wealth,reducing poverty,and generating employment.

    2.Community development is a continuous ,guided process that adheres to a set of principles with the purpose of empowering and sustaining development.
    It’s not just an activity but a set of activities that the community pursues in a systematic way over an extended period of time.
    It’s a process that’s continuous,guided,and adheres to a set of principles.
    The community on the basis of widespread participation,develops a vision to steer the Process.

    3.The process should ensure widespread community influence, participation,and community edu..
    The result is empowerment.
    Community members must pursue their own empowerment.
    Community edu is a process of guiding community members to access social change knowledge.

    4.Development plans must ensure environmental stewardship through participatory planning.
    Environmental stewardship requires planning.
    The community must pursue partnerships to protect agricultural lands,ocean resources,ecosystems,forests,clean fresh water,and healthy environment.
    Development encroaches on the environment.
    Thus we have a responsibility to ensure that any resource exploitation has minimum negative impact.

    5.Development results must lead to sustainability.
    Sustainable development depends on two major factors:
    a) Ensure that people have continued access to the basic social amenities,
    b) Resource development must be undertaken using sound management practices that ensure that resources are not depleted.

    6.Ensure partnerships with relevant entities in the development process.
    Partnership provides access to the necessary resources.
    Whilst the community may well initiate organizational efforts,some of the resources needed for development are not found within the community,or are controlled by the government.
    This creates a need for partnerships with govts.,businesses,edu and training institutions,and all other community-based orgz pursuing community development objectives.

    • emmanuel kilala
      November 9, 2011 at 8:01 pm

      i real thank for notes. Keep on providing more. God bless you

  14. Solomon Quansah
    September 9, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    i appreciate the knowledge being shared for people like me.
    Thank you.

  15. chidimwa
    November 11, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Thanks for the knowledge.

  16. muthoni
    February 16, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    community development workers’ core duty is to FACILITATE sustainable development to the community hence, to achieve effective participation by the community members which is one of the most important principle of sustainable community development, as the facilitator we should let the community feel that they own the project…(ownership principle) and with these in their hearts and all other principles having been achieved, they will be able to take active responsibilities of their actions towards the project.

  17. Joyce Richards
    April 27, 2013 at 8:49 am

    Great stuff, just what I needed. It has inspired me, in my assessment to do better. Thankyou

  18. August 18, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Community Development is the process of improving peoples life from lower lever to high lever in the community,and this can be measured by improving in social services like Schools,hospitals,infrustructure facilities [per-capital income]

  19. chrisy iresh
    September 25, 2013 at 7:48 am

    The key purposes of community development work is collectively to bring about social changes and justice by working with the community to identify their needs,opportunities,rights and responsibilities.

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