Development is intended to improve the lives of people so there is, then, a strong and logical case for development starting with people. Community development focuses on development projects as they directly relate to and include the participation of local, usually rural or small urban, communities. In particular, it addresses issues that are of immediate concern to those communities that are intended to have the capacity to produce continuing localized results. It also reflects the notion that development, broadly conceived, is about the enhancement of the potential of people to emancipate themselves (see Sen 1999a). That is, it is intended to give them greater capacity to exercise control over their own lives (see Tesoriero 2010: 65). This is usually referred to as ‘empowerment’. This ‘empowerment’ approach to development ‘places the emphasis on autonomy in the decision-making of territorially organized communities, local self-reliance, direct and inclusive (participatory) democracy, and experiential social learning’ (Friedman 1992: vii). However, like many other good ideas that have been encapsulated in a single word or phrase, ‘empowerment’ has been used so widely and by so many people and organizations for so many different purposes that it has started to lose meaning: ‘[I]n some countries, governments talk glibly of empowerment of the poor in their development plans, having stripped the term of any real meaning’ (Gardner and Lewis 1996: 118).
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