In 2018 the International Association of Community Development (IACD) released International Standards for Community Development Practice. The release of the standards was the result of investigating the nature of Community Development work and examining what was common internationally between organisations, agencies and individuals across the globe. IACD hoped the standards would assist practitioners and support them in the work they are doing.
At the heart of the standards sits the IACD definition of Community Development: “Community Development is a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes participative democracy, sustainable development, rights, economic opportunity, equality and social justice, through the organisation, education and empowerment of people within their communities, whether these be of locality, identity or interest, in urban and rural settings”. The definition has an emphasis on the values driving community development work and on the practice of community development.
The standards are contained in eight theme areas:
- Putting values into practice: Understand the values, processes and outcomes of community development, and apply these to practice in all the other key areas. (This theme surrounds understanding what community development is, what is at its core values are, what its outcomes can be and supporting others involved in the practice of community development)
- Engaging with communities: Understand and engage with communities, building and maintaining relationships with individuals and groups. (To me, this is central to all good practice knowing in detail the community a practitioner is working in and create strong relationships.)
- Participatory planning: Develop and support collaborative working and community participation. (Often an area that can be left out by large organisations, particularly government authorities. This is about capacity building for people to work together to direct their own future)
- Organising for change: Enable communities to take collective action, increase their influence and if appropriate their ability to access, manage and control resources and services. (This follows on closely to participatory planning and involves supporting people through the process of change and growing empowerment)
- Learning for change: Support people and organisations to learn together and to raise understanding, confidence and the skills needed for social change. (Another step in empowerment is an increase in skills to change, the skills to put the participatory planning into practice)
- Promoting diversity and inclusion: Design and deliver practices, policies, structures and programmes that recognise and respect diversity and promote inclusion.(Recognising diversity and being inclusive. Even though this is one that shouldn’t need to be stated we are not yet at the place where recognition of diversity and inclusive work practices are central for every worker and organisation)
- Building leadership and infrastructure: Facilitate and support organisational development and infrastructure for community development, promoting and providing empowering leadership. (Developing community leadership that is democratic and promotes participatory processes is central to creating lasting community change)
- Developing and improving policy and practice: Develop, evaluate and inform practice and policy for community development, using participatory evaluation to inform and improve strategic and operational practice. (One of my favourite topics – evaluation but use participatory approaches and encourage communities to monitor and evaluate their progress. Above all maintain critical reflection and evaluation of your own work.)
This is a very brief summary. Most of the above is directly from the International Standards with my comments about each theme in brackets.
The themes provide a great support and guidance for the work I do in Community Development and assist me in keeping my practice true. One of the really good things about them is they can be used in a many contexts. Their use in planning both projects and strategies is immediately apparent on reading them. They can be used in worker development, development of policy and in promoting the profession of Community Development.
Full details about the standards can be found at the IACD website (www.IACDglobal.org).