All communities hold a variety of public gatherings on a regular basis. These may be
traditional celebrations and events or political or religious gatherings. These gatherings can
offer community development organisations with a useful opportunity to hear the views of the
community and to pass on development messages.
Advantages of Public Gatherings
Can instigate open discussion and immediate responses.
Are usually free and require few resources.
Are usually conducted in the local language.
Can include a large number of people in one go.
Are often a familiar and trusted means of community level communication.
How to use Public Gathering
Development organisations can either
organise their own public gatherings for
specific purposes, or collaborate with other
community leaders who frequently organise
When using public meetings:
Information should be presented in
the appropriate language.
Time and venue should be taken
into consideration so as to involve
Chief’s baraza. Namanga Hills, Kajiado
the entire target audience. Use
District, Kenya Women do not attend these
common meeting places.
meetings. Practical Action East Africa
The community should be informed
in advance about the gathering.
Gender and community customs should also be taken into consideration. Eg. Some
gatherings are traditionally male domains and women are excluded or are not
expected to contribute.
You can reach a particular target group, such as youth or disabled people by working
specifically with these groups.
During the meeting you can increase people’s retention of information and enjoyment
by using various media such as pictures, handouts, song, dance and drama.
Constraints of Public Gathering
Some cultural norms may exclude certain groups from attending public meetings.
If you are using meetings organised by others you will have limited time and control
over the proceedings.
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Real Life Story
Lighting the Village - Public gatherings initiate community mobilization
The people of Ndundu village, on the southern foothills of Mount Kenya are now generating
their own electricity with a small hydro scheme. They have planned and managed the project
themselves, with technical assistance from Practical Action.
Once it had been established that there was sufficient hydro potential from the village river,
the first community gathering was held to discuss the project concept. The objective of
holding the public gathering was to have a free discussion about the project, and to create
trust, rapport, confidence and commitment to sharing information.
The whole community was involved and they started to agree on issues to do with contributing
time and money, and the fair sharing of the future benefits from the scheme. The local area
administrative chief was present at this gathering.
As a result of this and other meetings, a
Community Electricity Association was formed
and a committee elected to manage the project
and oversee the operation of the scheme. A
written agreement was subsequently signed
between the community and the implementing
partners. It was agreed that all labour for the
project was to be provided by the community in
addition to the building materials required for the
intake and the turbine house. The community
members also decided that there should be a
Community members outside the power
connection fee once the turbine was
house. Practical Action East Africa
commissioned. This covered the costs of the
distribution cables, house wiring and energy saving light bulbs. The community association
was also required to register with the local government office and to open a bank account in
order to deposit local contributions towards meeting the project’s running costs.
Now 160 households are able to light their homes from this scheme and the community
knows how to maintain and manage the system.
"We did not believe it was possible to make electricity from such a small stream but this year
Ndundu village had its best Christmas ever."
Real Life Story courtesy of Practical Action East Africa
Storytelling Practical Action Technical Brief
Community/Street drama Practical Action Technical Brief
Exposure Visits Practical Action Technical Brief
Posters Practical Action Technical Brief
Information, Communication, Learning selection of Practical Action Technical Briefs
Using Existing Mass Media Practical Action Technical Brief
Podcasting: Recording and Using Local Voices for Knowledge Sharing Practical Action Brief
Newsletters and Booklets Practical Action Technical Brief
Wall Newspapers Practical Action Technical Brief
The Schumacher Centre
Rugby, Warwickshire, CV23 9QZ
Tel: +44 (0)1926 634400
Fax: +44 (0)1926 634401
This document is based on the Micro Media Card Pack: A Tool Kit for Community
Development Workers produced by Practical Action in October 2003. Reproduced
as a Technical Brief in October 2007.
Practical Action is a development charity with a difference. We know the simplest ideas can have the
most profound, life-changing effect on poor people across the world. For over 40 years, we have been
working closely with some of the world’s poorest people - using simple technology to fight poverty and
transform their lives for the better. We currently work in 15 countries in Africa, South Asia and Latin