Where it works?
Certain sites will be more suited to community management than others. For the project, we implemented community management in a wide variety of sites and we’ve seen that certain sites are able to quickly catch on to the model and run independently, while other sites require more active facilitation. There are also certain types of sites where this type of model will not work, even with intensive handholding.
Sites where it works
Facilities that have medium to high user traffic –
This helps ensure that facilities have enough money to pay for operational expenses, and makes it easier to ensure the involvement of users in facility operations
Communities that are more homogeneous –
This makes it easier to ensure that the management structure is representative of the community at large. When there are fewer different communities using the facility, it makes it easier to keep people informed about the facility and to collate and address facility grievances. There is also less occurrence of internal conflicts in these types of communities.
Places where the managers have good communication skills –
Managers with communication skills are better able to listen to feedback from different stakeholders, and are better able to convince community members in case there is reluctance to charge user fees, or questions about the trustworthiness of managers. Lack of communication within the management team, and between management team and other community members is one of the major issues we have had to deal with in handholding of facility management. In sites where none of the managers have this skill, the manager relied on our team to do the convincing for them – which is not sustainable.
Sites where it does not work
Some of these may seem obvious, but keeping these issues in mind right at the site selection stage can help to avoid problems later on.
Facilities that have very low user traffic –
Without sufficient funds to cover basic expenses, it becomes difficult to motivate people to take on the responsibility of running a facility.
Facilities that are located in between communities where those communities do not have a positive relationship –
It may happen that the only patch of land available in the community is one that is located at the border between communities. If these communities have a cordial relationship, it may be possible to create a management committee with representatives from the different communities. If these communities don’t have a relationship, or have a negative relationship, can creating this type of alliance will be extremely difficult. This means that management will either be captured by one community, or neither community will want to take responsibility.
Communities which have a few strong leaders, but these leaders do not act for the community’s benefit –
This issue is difficult to predict at the outset of the project. Usually these leadership characteristics only come to light after a few months of operations. In these types of sites, these leaders can technically take on the management of the facility, but will funnel all facility funds for their own uses rather than using it for the community. One way to figure this out is to contact other organizations who have worked in the community in the past to hear their experiences of working with the community’s leaders.
At the end of the 1- year handholding period, about 50% of Sammaan sites were considered to be able to run independently, while only 15% of sites where considered to be sites where community management could not work. The remaining 35% of sites required extra handholding and facilitation prior to handing over completely to communities.
See our resources for a checklist to help assess a community’s readiness for community management and case studies of Sammaan communities from the different categories of readiness.
Checklist for assessing a community’s readiness for community management
Case studies of suitable, and unsuitable sites for community management