Community Development Handbook, 1999

In order to understand community development is it important to understand that it means different things to different people in different places — and that our understanding about what constitutes effective or appropriate community development has expanded considerably in the past few years. What we do know is that it is founded on voluntary and healthy interdependence, mutual benefit and shared responsibility. In recent years, more often than not, community development has involved local people seeking and taking advantage of opportunities or working together to solve problems.

Our interest in community development is not new but something to which we are returning. And returning to it we are, with interest being generated in all sectors and by a wide variety of people in each sector. Along with this increased interest comes some confusion about what community development is and what it is not. While different approaches and a variety of ideas exist about community development, there remains an underlying assumption that it is familiar to us and that we have a part to play in it.

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