Changing communities through sustainable development

Development is exactly that:  Helping communities develop a better future for themselves. Global Development Group Partner Relations manager, Kelley Chisolm, recently completed her Masters of International and Community Development, including a field research dissertation on the Rwandan Self Help Group approach.

“The vulnerable and marginalised in societies around the world need to have their own capabilities and opportunities strengthened, so that they can free themselves, their children and future generations from the plight of poverty… ‘Sustainability’ promotes and fosters self-sufficiency and self-determination, rather than dependence on others. It refers more to the direction of a development rather than the specific activity at any one time. This is not an easy pathway—it must be understood and well-planned from the very beginning of a development initiative,” Kelley says.

The women’s Self Help Group (SHG) approach of Global Development Group project J507 in Rwanda is one of its most successful in realising sustainability. It brings together very poor women who walk long distances to a weekly meeting for support, encouragement and planning. Group members decide upon and contribute a small amount to group savings and receive training in key skills of literacy, book-keeping, communication, savings and loans, entrepreneurship, etc. from a community facilitator. At the end of the six months, group members plan their pathway to independence and self- support.

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