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Encouraging change and learning

In Uganda, the Community Based Health Care Association (UCBHCA) has found that the way training is organised and conducted is very important. They give first priority to making sure the training is relevant to the needs of their trainees, participatory and appropriate for adult learners. They believe that their training is a model for the way in which trainees will, in turn, share what they learn

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From: Motivating change – Footsteps 43

How to support changemakers in your community

Advice from some successful groups

Put the trainees’ needs first

In Uganda the Community Based Health Care Association (UCBHCA) has found that the way training is organised and conducted is very important. They give first priority to making sure the training is relevant to the needs of their trainees, participatory and appropriate for adult learners. They believe that their training is a model for the way in which trainees will, in turn, share what they learn. Their facilitators are therefore role models. They encourage people to use their own experiences as the main resource during training.

They find they have problems with trainees who come expecting and wanting formal teaching. Donors expect fast results at low cost and find this type of training does not provide this. In addition, trainers may find the trainees ask questions which they cannot answer, making them lack confidence in their training.

UCBHCA find it helpful to:

  • identify training needs before planning the training
  • develop the training with some of those who will benefit, to make sure it will be relevant
  • include evaluation of each session as well as the whole course
  • include very practical skill sharing
  • facilitate learning rather than teaching
  • provide supportive follow-up for trainees and monitor their performance.

Training needs to be:

LEARNER CENTRED and to consider the interests, needs, expectations, experiences, challenges and environment of the learners

PROBLEM POSING – focusing on situations and problems which the trainees experience with a view to stimulating thinking and analysing the situation

SELF-DISCOVERY – remember the Chinese saying ‘When I hear, I forget. When I see, I remember. When I do, I understand.’ Help trainees to discover things themselves.

ACTION ORIENTED – motivating participants to practise what was learnt.

UCBHCA, PO Box 325, Entebbe, Uganda

Solutions – first or last?

The popular process of development begins with a solution to a problem. People are helped to understand how the solution is just what is needed to help them and they are encouraged to put the solution into action.

However, once a group has become aware of the need to make changes, the way to encourage members towards self-sufficiency is not to provide solutions. Instead, start first with the problem, then look together for a solution and then motivate people to put the solution into action. This process of animation within a group is a long-term process and should never be rushed.

Gilbert Konango, CEA, BP 17023, Douala, Cameroon

We are precious stones

The Aroles in Jamkhed, India, work to promote primary healthcare. They work with rural communities to build relationships and support people in finding their own solutions. Health worker training focuses on changing attitudes and values. The Aroles believe that everyone is made in the image of God and has potential. They comment, ‘It is especially important to unlearn the belief that village people are ignorant; it is essential to respect them as of equal intelligence and as knowledgeable people.’

Many of the health workers come from the outcast classes of society. Within their communities they are valued less than their husband’s animals. When they first come for training they are given a mirror and learn to look at themselves, to say their names and say to themselves ‘we are valued’. Many of them have hardly heard their names used before, as they are normally referred to by their husband’s name. One lady called Sarubai commented, ‘We realised we are not our husbands’ slaves but human beings. We are not like the cast-off rocks we used to think we were. We are precious stones; we have value and we want to share with others that they too are valued.’ Building such self-confidence takes a long time and needs regular encouragement over several years. Another trainee commented, ‘I learnt because the people here sat close to me, spent time with me, demonstrated things to me and then let me try them. I was shown love.’

Tine Jaegar, Tearfund

Multiplying and strengthening

The PRAAL Co-ordinating Centre works to support communities in two ways. It has established a Pilot Centre which can provide demonstrations, resources and training. Voluntary ‘animators’ (facilitators) and women’s leaders are selected by village development committees to receive a three month training course at the Pilot Centre. Each month they spend two weeks at the centre and two at home supervised by their trainers. They learn about new techniques in agriculture such as rabbit husbandry, poultry and fish farming and try these out in the homes. As animators complete their training they continue to be supervised by the trainers, and they in turn supervise new trainees. In this way each person is responsible for just three or four others, allowing for good relationships and continued support.

The village development committees were concerned about the continued loss of young people to the cities, frequent deaths and changing local politics. So we have encouraged three to five villages to begin working together in ‘Pools’. This has helped to overcome ancient conflicts. Roads, bridges and water within each pool can be better managed and become everyone’s responsibility. Meetings within the ‘Pools’ offer the chance of new friendships and enthusiasm between villages.

Revd Nimi Luzolo, PRAAL, BP 50, Tshela, Democratic Republic of Congo


When planning programmes our motto is always ‘People above programmes.’

We must always seek to have programmes…

OF the people, BY the people, FOR the people.

Beware of aimless programmes, meetings or talks. Always have a specific aim each time people meet together – plan agendas based on the last meeting.

Vary the methods of presentation – use sketches, talks, group discussions, study, research, debate, activities, games, songs and music.

Revd Ted Correa, Palawan Rural Life Centre, Makiling Heights, Lalakay, Los Baños, 4030 Laguna, Philippines

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