Spiderweb Configuration and Community Development

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  • Topic: Community building, Community organizing, Community
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& Oxford University Press and Community Development Journal. 2005 All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org doi:10.1093/cdj/bsi047 Advance Access publication 25 February 2005

Evaluating community capacity: Visual representation and interpretation Glenn Laverack
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Abstract The purpose of this paper is to provide an interpretation of programme experiences in the visual representation of strategies used to build community capacity. The paper first discusses the definition of community capacity in a programme context and describes different approaches for the visual representation of the evaluation of community capacity. What is new about this paper is that it provides a discussion about the interpretation of community capacity and in particular the use of the spider web configuration (so called because of the shape it resembles). This is illustrated by three examples taken from two different community development programmes, the first of which is in Fiji and the second in Kyrgyzstan. The paper concludes with a discussion about the implications for the community development practice of using visual representations of community capacity, including the difficulties, for example, of mapping changes in community capacities over time, and the benefits, for example, of promoting a free flow of information between stakeholders. The paper will assist practitioners to better plan for, evaluate and visually represent the findings of strategies used to build community capacity in community development programmes.

There is a considerable body of literature that defines community capacity and discusses approaches for its implementation and evaluation (Goodman et al., 1998; Hawe et al., 2000; Labonte and Laverack, 2001; Gibbon, Labonte and Laverack, 2002). The literature addresses how community capacity can be deliberately enhanced in a programme or project context, regardless of content, and through relationships between government or non-government organizations, community workers and community members. A programme is conventionally viewed as a cyclical process 266

Community Development Journal Vol 41 No 3 July 2006 pp. 266 – 276

Evaluating community capacity


that usually includes: a period of identification; design; appraisal; approval; implementation; management and evaluation. In this paper I define ‘stakeholders’ as the people, groups and organizations who have some interest or influence in the programme. Community capacity is neither seen as means or as end, rather it is viewed as both. It is not a substitute for programme goals or objectives but it creates a separate set of objectives that run parallel to those of specific programmes. This is called a ‘parallel-track’ approach (Laverack and Labonte, 2000) in which community capacity is strengthened at each stage of the programme cycle. The identification of the factors or ‘domains’ that influence community capacity as a process is also discussed in the literature (Goodman et al., 1998; Gibbon, 1999; Laverack, 1999; Hawe et al., 2000). What is important is the attempt by these authors to ‘unpack’ a complex concept to be better able to plan, implement and evaluate community capacity in a programme context. However, the discussion is largely theoretical and often stops at the evaluation stage of the programme cycle. The purpose of this paper is to further explain the practical application of community capacity and in particular: . . .

Downloaded from cdj.oxfordjournals.org at Universiteit Twente on March 16, 2011

a way in which to visually represent the domains of community capacity; the interpretation of the visual representation of community capacity; the implications of using a visual representation as part of the evaluation of community capacity.

Defining community capacity
It is helpful for community development...
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