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What is Community-led Development?

Community-led DevelopmentPrinciples

Community-led Development is working together to create and achieve locally-owned visions and goals. It’s a place-based development approach that’s built around five core practice principles.

Find out more below

Five Principles

  • Building visions and priorities with those who live, work, care, play, and invest in that place – the principle of ahi kaa*.
  • Tailor-making solutions from the ‘ground up’ and reflecting local aspirations, needs and conditions.
  • Growing a shared sense of optimism and collective caring for people, place and the future ahead.

*Ahi Kaa is a fundamental traditional Māori cultural concept meaning ‘site of burning fires’. In contemporary times, Ahi Kaa is used to refer to people who uphold a particular purpose within the community. That is, they are the ‘keepers of the home fires’ be that at home, on the marae or within a particular organisation or movement.

  • Acknowledging everyone has a contribution to make – with attention to involve groups often ignored.
  • Valuing local people as ‘experts’ in their place.
  • Proactively engaging local voices and ideas.
  • Building action plans built on existing community strengths, assets and resources.
  • Encouraging and supporting local people with energy to do things, and connecting them up with others who can help.
  • Involving all those who have a stake in creating visions and aspirations, plans and activities and working/doing together.
  • Fostering new connections between diverse people, organisations and sectors to unlock resources and enable new thinking.
  • Creating strong local relationships and linkages – at street/neighbourhood level, between local groups, agencies, businesses and also with organisations based outside the local area.
  • Intentionally strengthening, growing and joining up local leadership.
  • Recognising and celebrating local leadership and achievements.
  • Making change visible and communicating progress within communities.
  • Holding an intentional vision/goal with a flexible ‘doing’ framework.
  • Not waiting for the ‘perfect’ plan or ‘complete’ analysis – they don’t exist.
  • Being prepared to take action, acknowledging uncertainty and adapting as things progress.
  • Proactively sharing experiences, learnings, and results within and across communities.
  • Understanding that ongoing small steps collectively contribute to larger transformational change.
  • Making links and encouraging systems changes (policy, funding, practice etc) for lasting impact within communities.

Community-led Development is a way of working together in place to create and achieve locally owned visions and goals.

Essential conditions forcommunity-led change:

Willingness to learn and imagine a better way of doing things.

Utilising existing strengths and assets.

Knowledge of community context and history.

Leadership capacity, plus efforts to develop community leaders – including those who are most affected by community conditions/ desired changes.

Relationships and teamwork.

Some of our top tips:

Start from where you are and be clear on your ‘why.’

Have lots of conversations and ask powerful questions.

Discover what you have already, and make sure everyone knows.

Aspire to build community and active citizens through all you do.

Look for bright spots in your community – go where the energy is and get behind people and their passions.