From Clients to Citizens

Communities changing the course of their own development

ISBN 978-185339-673-1

Edited by Alison Mathie and Gordon Cunningham with a foreword by John P. Kretzmann

About the editors
Table of contents
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Communities worldwide act on their own initiative, drawing on their own resources of leadership and solidarity, and in spite of poverty, to achieve their own goals. Development practitioners have too often viewed poor communities as helpless and disadvantaged, and have encouraged their dependency. Yet if instead communities are recognized as having social and cultural as well as material assets, and these are what help them to overcome obstacles, then their capacity to negotiate external assistance on their own terms can be strengthened.

From the Moroccan villages that secured irrigation infrastructure with the help of returning migrants, to the Egyptian youth leaders who wanted a soccer pitch for their village, and the indigenous women’s cooperative in Ecuador that now exports medicinal plants, this book describes case studies of communities that first built on their own assets, before seeking assistance from outside. What are the common factors that help all these communities mobilize? Do outside organizations have a role to play when communities take charge of their own development?

From Clients to Citizens is aimed at community workers, researchers and policy makers who want to take a fresh look at community development.


"A wonderfully insightful exploration of the new frontiers of community development, this book is a must-read for students, teachers, activists and policy-makers alike."
Michael Edwards, Director, Governance and Civil Society, The Ford Foundation

"This is a terrific book."
Caroline Moser, Professor of Urban Development, University of Manchester

"This volume is an essential antidote to expert-dominated views about how communities are ‘developed’ through external initiatives. A rich combination of analysis, geographic variety and diversity of cases show where, why and how people’s own capabilities, resources and efforts make an enduring difference to their lives and to society."
Dr Alan Fowler, Former President of the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR).

"This is a thoroughly enjoyable, original and readable book, using a range of rich case studies to explore the complex workings of community-led development initiatives."
Jethro Pettit, Research Officer, Participation, Power and Social Change Team, IDS, University of Sussex

"From Clients to Citizens is a unique guide to discovering the power of mobilized local community assets, Its special significance is in the case studies that demonstrate how effective community building depends upon first developing local resources before outside assistance can be useful."
John McKnight, CoDirector, Asset Based Community Development Institute, Northwestern University

About the editors

Alison Mathie and Gordon Cunningham are on the teaching faculty at the Coady International Institute at St Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada. Their research explores asset-based approaches to community development and local organizing, and identifies government and donor policies that encourage such active citizen participation, especially in Kenya, Ethiopia, the Philippines, India and Vietnam.

Table of contents

Foreword: John P. Kretzmann


Section I: Communities mobilizing assets and driving their own development
1 Possibilities for income-deprived but capability-rich communities in Egypt
2 God created the world and we created Conjunto Palmeira: four decades of forging community and building a local economy in Brazil
3 Building the Mercado Central: Asset Based Community Development and community entrepreneurship in the USA
4 The Jambi Kiwa story: mobilizing assets for community development in Ecuador
5 When bamboo is old, the sprouts appear: rekindling local economies through traditional skills in Hanoi, Vietnam
6 By their own hands: two hundred years of building community in St Andrews, Nova Scotia, Canada
7 The hardware and software of community development: migrant infrastructure projects in rural Morocco
8 A spreading banyan tree: the Self Employed Women’s Association, India
9 People’s institutions as a vehicle for community development: a case study from Southern India
10 Jansenville Development Forum: linking community and government in the rural landscape of the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa  

Section II: ABCD in Ethiopia, Kenya and the Philippines
11 Stimulating Asset Based and Community Driven Development: lessons from five communities in Ethiopia
12 Reviving self-help: an NGO promotes Asset Based Community Development in two communities in Kenya
13 From DCBA to ABCD: the potential for strengthening citizen engagement with local government in Mindanao, the Philippines
14 Conclusion  


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