Over the last few years we have reviewed all aspects of our approaches; and although we believe that this process of review should be a dynamic and continuous cycle of learning and re-evaluating, we have four main overlapping and interactive organizational approaches for community development. Often interdependent and mutually enhancing, these approaches form the basis of how we work as an organization and the partnerships we form.
Children are at the heart of everything UaCP do. We endeavor to promote a child-centered community development approach wherein children, their families and their communities are owners of the development process. We believe that our legitimacy and authority as an organization comes from prioritizing children themselves, in the context of their family and their wider community. Our work is underpinned by the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; we are guided by a policy that always emphasizes the best interests of the child and adopts non-discriminatory principles, that all rights apply to all children without exception.
UaCP works at the grassroots level, forming genuine partnerships with local communities. We believe communities have the strength and willingness to overcome their own challenges and are best placed to understand the issues existing in their community. We strive to support local heroes passionate about improving the lives of children in their communities. Through our work with these agents of change
we implement sustainable community led initiatives and support projects which enable community ownership at every stage of the project cycle.
The diagram below, is a simple illustration of our perspective
Fundamentally connected to this community centered approach is the need for respectful and meaningful participation, particularly that which involves children. We aspire to place child participation at the heart of how we operate. Our job is not to dictate to children but to engage the young people in designing and participating in projects and programmes that genuinely reflect the needs and aspirations of their generation. We believe children are not passive objects of interventions but active agents in their own development. This requires more than just listening to them, it means involving children in decision-making, and encouraging them to take an active role in finding solutions to their problems. Over the coming years we plan to incorporate child participation at all levels and stages of the project management cycle. Closely related to our commitment to child participation is a focus on child protection. In this strategic period, we will always increase our focus on this critical issue and prioritize child protection and in all aspects of our work as an organization. We will also work with like-minded organizations towards achieving the Keeping Children Safe (KCS) coalition’s standards for Child Protection.
Participation of communities is another essential requirement of our projects. By involving the children, their families and the wider community we foster a sense of ownership and encourage them to become stakeholders able to provide sustainable solutions to the poverty cycle and shape their own futures. We will actively pursue a scenario where every project we support actively, ethically and meaningfully involves all relevant actors (including children) in the decision making process for planning, implementation and evaluation, through which they are empowered to claim their rights and take responsibility for a project and its results.
UaCP believes in a holistic approach to development. Through our partnerships, we facilitate simultaneous delivery of numerous and discrete initiatives which, when combined, are more effective than when delivered apart. This kind of multi-pronged approach, often sector-wide in scope, increases our impact.
These programmes may include aspects from one, two or all three of our development themes of health, education and child protection. By addressing a variety of issues through meaningful lasting partnerships we form synergies, creating a multiplier effect that expands and strengthens the positive effects of our projects.
In addition to supporting initiatives which deal with the immediate socio-economic needs of children, we are working to develop a framework in which we also integrate elements of a child rights focused approach. Our work does not merely respond to identified needs but rather follows the three pillars of child rights programming (engaging with and supporting duty bearers and rights holders and incorporating aspects of advocacy).
This involves conducting a regular situational analysis of child rights violations, alongside children and their communities, and using this information to inform advocacy strategies and awareness raising activities, which respond to identified challenges. Our programmes will focus on addressing underlying issues or, the root causes of poverty, and will work with rights holders and duty bearers on all levels. This is a vital step in ensuring project sustainability and will allow us to bring about lasting change and greater impact in the lives of the children we work with.
Our emphasis on the holistic also requires us to recognize the various aspects of child wellbeing, such as material, relational and subjective, and reflect these multidimensionally within outcomes. This approach will place greater emphasis on people’s potential to fulfil their ambitions, and not on those areas in which they are deficit. We will focus on self-determination and participation rather than exogenously defined well-being.
Sustainability is an integral benchmark by which we evaluate the achievements of our projects and the way we work. The strength of a project’s sustainability will often depend on the successful implementation of our three other approaches. We aim to facilitate results which have permanent value for those they aim to affect, the surrounding communities, the institutional capacity of governments, and the environment