ResilientAfrica Network Makerere University School of Public Health

The University-led Community Agency Network (UCAN): Co-creating and scaling community

Lead Organization

ResilientAfrica Network Makerere University School of Public Health

Kampala, Central Region, Uganda

http://www.ranlab.org

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Massive aid to developing countries, while achieving tremendous results, has fallen short of building sufficient resilience to recurrent adversity. Breaking these cycles requires that development programs build self-reliance by unleashing community Agency for change. At Makerere University Resilient Africa Network (RAN), we believe that Community Agency for self-reliance can be scaled by growing a large number of activated Change Agents to steer communities towards local solutions to local challenges. RAN has teamed up with 30 universities to form the University-led Community Agency Network (UCAN), a global self-reliance initiative of unprecedented size that will scale a massive network of Community Change Agents. Taking advantage of the increasing number of universities in developing countries and re-imagining their role in community engagement, UCAN will equip Change Agents with two transformational tools tested by RAN: Community-based co-creation and Deliberative Prioritization. The Change Agent model will be scaled in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Problem Statement

To progress to higher income status, developing countries require substantial shifts in their approach to development. Massive aid, while achieving tremendous results, has fallen short of building sufficient resilience to recurrent adversity. That the same shocks and stresses keep recurring in the same communities with similar effects (malnutrition, maternal morbidity, food insecurity, disease, and extreme poverty) reflects a resilience gap. Breaking these cycles requires emphasis on self-reliance i.e. communities taking ownership of their development goals and matters in their own hands so as to drive their development. As a key marker of resilience, communities learn from adversity to build their own mechanisms for permanent resistance to the factors driving adversity. While developing countries often have some resources available, their communities lack the skills to optimally harness these resources. Achieving self-reliance requires agency at the community level. The ‘lack of community, household and individual agency to take local development matters into their own hands to drive self-reliance in solving their problems inhibits communities from tapping into local resources, know-how and leadership to drive development. Our program will particularly address agency in 4 areas of leverage: 1) Households taking and maintaining children in school, 2) seeking maternal and child health services, 3) appropriate basic sanitation, 4) household food security, and 5) environmental conservation. At RAN, we believe that the leadership needed to leap-frog communities into transformative development should come from the community itself and that these leadership skills can be scaled up through the Community Change Agent model.

Solution Overview

Our solution will put self-reliance at the centre of community development by mobilizing communities to co-create solutions that are non-dependent on external resources. This will be achieved by using the university platform to train and support a massive network of Community Change Agents. The widely distributed network of universities will be used to replicate the community engagement model so that the Change Agents are rapidly scaled in multitudes of communities accross 3 continents. The Change Agents will replicate community co-creation activities accross a multitude of villages using three key leadership tools: 1) Sense of urgency tools; 2) Community based co-creation; and 3) Deliberative prioritization. By getting communities to identify their own most pressing gaps and proposing and prioritizing local solutions, agency for change and community ownership of the solutions will be ignitied. With each Change Agent accessing a smart phone loaded with an application to facilitate their work and to register their network, tracking of local development data will be made possible at the last mile. Progress will be observed from the number of: households enrolled into community agents’ networks, activities registered by the CCAs, communities acting on co-created and prioritized solutions, and communities indicating a positive change as a result of the outreaches especially in the areas of: 1) maintaining their children in school, 2) seeking maternal and child health services, 3) appropriate basic sanitation, 4) household food security, and 5) environmental conservation. The dynamics of an innovative incentive system for CCAs will also be tracked.

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