Infrastructure improvement programs implemented in the developing world by aid organizations often fail for social, cultural, and political reason rather than technical causes. When selecting communities for new programs, we have learned that it is not enough to focus on the community’s levels of need but we must also evaluate their technical and social capacity and their attitudes towards development work.
In 2014 and 2015, EIA developed and implemented an asset-based community development (ABCD) community evaluation program to achieve more successful program outcomes and to deliver more sustainable projects. Our experiences over the past eight years has shown us the paramount importance of choosing appropriate community partners.
To develop our ABCD program, we took a close look at all of our current and past programs to identify and evaluate the primary factors that contributed to project success, or lack thereof. Our staff collectively reviewed these factors and developed asset-focused community survey forms and a scoring matrix to ensure a more systematic and consistent selection process.
The ABCD program is intended to help us develop a better understanding of community aspects that go beyond basic needs and help us to better match communities with appropriate partner organizations. We implemented the ABCD program in the middle of 2015 and used it to evaluate several potential new communities. The staff agreed that, in all cases, it was a valuable tool to help us make better decisions that will benefit community members and our partners. In 2016, we will continue to apply ABCD and we will strive to refine the process to improve program success and sustainability.