Capacity Building and Community Participation
Community participation is the key to all activities with MRHP, giving the people skills rather than finished products. Through its network of animators and village groups, MRHP reaches out to over 70 villages and nearly a quarter of a million people living in one of the poorest parts of the world.
All MRHP projects use a participatory approach, starting with community consultation and analysis. The plan for every project is formulated with the community, involving as wide a range of villages and people as possible, and most of the project ideas and developments actually stem directly from the people. MRHP is a ‘grass-roots’ based organisation and village housing committees, representing 70 villages, are members of the overall organising Committee. If these groups require technical support, MRHP uses the expertise of its personnel or brings in experts when necessary.
Capacity building is key to the work of MRHP, which works through village representatives, or animators, who are trained in MRHP methods such as brick making, agricultural practices orreforestation. The animators in turn teach their peers in their villages, disseminating good practice, skills and knowledge throughout the region. Facilitators are not paid by MRHP, but willingly give up their own time to help the sustainable development of their villages.
The involvement of women is especially encouraged and equal rights for men and women in housing matters, such as housing ownership, is always a priority. At least 50% of the villagers trained as animators by MRHP are women.
Since 2007 communities have been encouraged by MRHP to develop Saving and Internal Lending Communities (SILCs) to increase their savings and gain access to small loans. In this way villagers can have access to money to pay school fees or health care costs, to make house improvements or to buy income generating items such as additional seeds or farm implements. SILCs are entirely run by the communities, with MRHP offering assistance through basic training in SILC group formation, as well as financial skills and fund management.