6.5 Methods of community engagement

There are many different methods of community engagement. Table 6.2 gives some examples. Some are only suitable for one level of engagement and others can be used more widely.

Table 6.2 Community engagement methods. (Adapted from MFSH, 2008)

Level and type of engagementMethods of engagement
1Sharing information

Face-to-face meetings

Newsletters, posters in public places, letters and flyers

Press releases for local radio and television

Advertisements, notifications or articles in local newspaper

Website

2Consultation

Stakeholder meetings, interviews

Public meetings and forums

Surveys, questionnaires

Focus group discussions

Distribution of documents

3 and 4Planning together and acting together

Stakeholder meetings

Workshops, discussions, action planning meetings

In-depth interviews and discussions

Participatory stakeholder mapping

Participatory planning and implementation

Advisory committees, area councils or steering committees

Taskforces, planning groups, strategic alliances and formal agreements

5Community directed

Community development

Participatory planning, implementation, expenditure tracking and performance monitoring, with public authority support

A high level of community engagement, such as collaborating to develop partnerships and provide recommendations at the project design stage, will help to sustain a project, empowering the community to make decisions and to implement and manage change.

It may be impossible to fully engage the community at every stage and you should consider the most appropriate level of engagement and participation for each particular situation. Most WASH programmes claim to have high community engagement, but may actually provide very little opportunity for the community to participate in the project implementation, so a key message is to avoid promising a level of participation that cannot actually be achieved. But the more you engage the community in decision making, the higher the level of ownership of the decisions made and consequently, the greater the likelihood of success.

6.4 Levels of community engagement

6.5.1 Engaging schools and WASH clubs