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Tools and guides

Building the capacity of local groups – a Pillars guide

Helps groups improve their communication, effectiveness and activities

2001 Available in English, French, Arabic, Portuguese and Spanish

Tearfund partners in Chad work together to build capacity in their communities

Tearfund partners in Chad work together to build capacity in their communities. Photo: Lui Lui/Tearfund

Pillars magazines on a desk

From: Pillars guides

Practical, discussion-based learning on community development for small groups

The aim of this guide is to help local groups discover how:

  • to be an effective group in working and acting together - to improve record- and note-keeping
  • to enhance the communication and openness within a group
  • to take positive, autonomous action without outside intervention

Anticipated outcomes:

  • local groups encouraged to gain confidence in their own ability to make changes for the better within their own communities
  • groups enabled to keep better records of their activities and to make use of this information for future planning and evaluation
  • use, sharing and networking of information encouraged
  • groups helped to plan for the future through organising activities and action

Working together

Within a community, there will be many situations where health workers, farmers, teachers, extension workers and others need to work alongside or co-operate with other people. Successful co-operation needs understanding of other people’s views, concern for the needs of others and sharing of the same goal.

Unity is strength

One person working alone may feel unable to do much to change their situation. They may have no confidence to make changes, take action or speak out. A group of people who share the same situation, commitment and values, however, can achieve a great deal. Through working together and supporting each other they can take practical action. This can help build their confidence in themselves as a force for change. Together they may feel able to ask outsiders for advice or help. Together they can be strong

The role of leaders

A good leader should provide a stable base for a group, should be able to inspire group members to take action, should be able to keep the group united, should have the confidence to speak out if things go wrong and should always be open to new ideas. However, leaders should also be people who are always ready to listen, especially before making decisions.


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