Civil Society, which goes hand-in-hand with community development, relates directly to all of IRD’s activities around the world. Civil Society initiatives
help people and local organizations at the grassroots level build teamwork, organizational capacity and interest in community development. Once organized and better informed, citizens can participate in the democratic process and become active in areas ranging from business development and education to health and conflict resolution.
IRD draws upon the collective resources and skills of communities to encourage local ownership and build technical expertise. During 2005, IRD worked with more than 500 community committees to complete community-based projects through programs funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Iraq, Montenegro, and Serbia. In Iraq alone, through the Iraq Community Action Program (ICAP), community groups identified local improvement projects benefiting more than two million people. In all its project activities, IRD places special emphasis on including marginalized groups such as women, refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and the disabled, and encourages members from disparate religious and socioeconomic groups to join the constructive process to identify and overcome common challenges.
Active participation by community leaders, government authorities, and elected officials from every level of society is imperative for effective local democratic governance. IRD regularly conducts civic action training for local stakeholders and helps identify key roles and responsibilities in the progress toward democratic governance. For example, under the USAID-funded Community Revitalization Through Democratic Action (CRDA) program in Serbia and Montenegro, communities contribute at least 25 percent of the total value of each project through a combination of cash, labor, services, property, equipment or supplies.
Confidence building, or “self-image” training, is also incorporated into many IRD program activities. This training is crucial for motivating local government officials and civil servants who have grown apathetic through decades of top-down management In Budva, Montenegro, for example, the mayor now plans to use the joint citizen-municipal model to develop a new urban design strategy.
Targets in 2006 include setting up new programs in Cambodia, Vietnam and Sri Lanka, as well as expanding activities in Serbia, Montenegro and Indonesia. Particular emphasis will be placed on designing conflict mitigation and resolution interventions.
• Iraq – Community Action Program
• Indonesia – Decentralized Basic Education
• Afghanistan – Construction and Trades Training Center