Community Capacity Building

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Section 1

Introduction to Community Capacity Building

The goal of community capacity building (CCB) is to empower community members to take collective action to improve the well-being of their community. CCB increases individuals’ responsibility for their own well-being and the well-being of their community. It also supports local development by providing opportunities to learn new knowledge and skills [1].

A “deficit-based approach” is often used to identify and solve “problems” in communities [1]. A deficit approach is needs-driven and problem-focused. It involves an “intervention” by people outside of the community or “experts” from within the community. Using this approach conveys the message that the community lacks the capacity to care for itself, meet its needs, and/or address its problems. Deficit-based approaches can foster a level of dependence on external services or parties to resolve community problems and often do not result in community growth [1].

Community capacity building (CCB) uses a strength-based approach, involves multiple members of the community, not just professionals, and identifies common goals [1]. CCB helps communities to focus on a concern, and identify individual and community strengths, assets, and capacities that can be used to address the concern. Unlike in a deficit approach, concerns are seen as ‘challenges’ not ‘problems’ and, therefore, do not feel insurmountable. By increasing the belief of community members that they can work together and meet their goals, the community feels ownership, motivation, and commitment to the process [1].