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What Is Community Development?

Community development is usually done as part of a combined effort by both local officials and members of the public at large.
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  • Written By: Jim B.
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 11 September 2014
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Community development can be loosely defined as any kind of initiative designed to improve the overall welfare of a specific community and the people who live in it. It is often thought of as any project intended to provide living conditions for the poorest members of a society. While this is certainly a part of the process, community development, or CD, can be broadened to include any kind of action taken with the intent of improving the community as a whole. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways and is often undertaken by philanthropists or local governments.

Most people don't have the power, wealth, or ability to make changes in the world or even in a nation. It is safe to say, however, that a single person or a small group of people can make an impact in a single community if they have the ambition, the knowledge, and, in some cases, the monetary assistance necessary to make it happen. That is the driving factor behind the concept of community development, which seeks to improve the world at large by making positive changes in a single community.

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It is impossible to discuss community development without first considering the members of the community that need the most assistance. In many cases, those people are the ones struggling with finances and lacking the kind of living arrangements conducive to a high quality of life. That is why CD often is associated with those efforts to provide low-income housing or to clean up slums in a particular neighborhood.

In addition, community development can mean many more things in terms of the betterment of society. There are many examples of programs that could be considered CD. A literacy campaign might be initiated to improve the educational prospects of local children. Health care clinics might offer free screenings for a specific disease to raise awareness of medical concerns. Local environmental groups might sponsor some sort of trash collection project to raise awareness to their concerns.

All of those examples show how community development goes far beyond simply providing housing for the poor. If there is any one specific thing that all CD project contains, it is some sort of positive benefit to the community. This may come not only in terms of financial impact, but also through sociological improvement. A well-executed CD project leaves the community, and all of its citizens, better off than before it was begun.

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