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Native Understanding of Participation and Empowerment in Community Development

Author(s): N. Lyndon | R. Moorthy | A. C. Er | S. Selvadurai

Journal: Journal of Social Sciences
ISSN 1549-3652

Volume: 7;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 643;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Phenomenology paradigm | Bidayuh community | community development | rural community | local community | native world | native understanding | depth interviews

Problem statement: The need for local community is often neglected at macro policy level and it is crucial to engage the native world view. The native view will provide adequate information of the needs and aspirations of the community. The aim of this study is to examine the native understanding of participation and empowerment in community development from the world view of Bidayuh rural community at Serian District of Sarawak. Approach: This study adopts a phenomenology research paradigm. This paradigm focuses on the lived experience of the Bidayuh community which are shaped by their own value and daily life experience. Data was gathered through in-depth interviews conducted with 50 respondents. The native understanding of participation and empowerment was analysed from themes derived from the knowledge, experience, interpretation, action and the reaction of the Bidayuh community world view. Results: The findings show that the native understanding of participation by the Bidayuh community is not just limited to the implementation stage but also involves other stages such as planning, assessment and monitoring. However the natives understand empowerment as the process where an individual or a group are able to use the abilities, skills and capacity of their own. Discussion: Participation by natives in local programs enables communities to have control over resources, increases engagement and decision making and improves their general wellbeing. When individuals are empowered as a consequence of active participation, the different interests and aspirations of groups can come together towards formulating common goals or finding solutions in the rural context. Conclusion: The aspects of participation and empowerment are the main indicator that must be addressed by the policy makers when drafting new comprehensive plan to address the various issues and the problems faced by rural communities. Future studies should address the impact of the local knowledge, local specific needs and freedom in the effectiveness of community development program to native community.
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