Social and economic changes are transforming rural and regional communities. Governmenthas sought to respond by emphasising service delivery, supporting infrastructure, increasing training opportunities and altering policy. An additional response is needed where government agencies develop a greater role in helping communities build their capacity. Community capacity consists of the networks, organisation, attitudes, leadership and skills that allow communities to manage change and sustain community-led development(Ojo and Ashton-Jones 2003). Government can and does influence community capacity. A “technical assistance” approach where services and programs are “delivered” into communities can limit local capacity. Yet, government can also develop community partnerships that foster community capacity. Government agencies are well positioned to support communities building their capacity( Idemudia, and . Ite. 2006). Some government agencies already help communities utilise and build networks and skills. Many public servants intuitively encourage community capacity. Government’s relationship with citizens is also fundamentally linked to community social capital.
Developing government’s role in community capacity involves the following principles:
•Creating a “vehicle” for local people to express and act on existing concerns,
•Judging appropriate interaction with communities from “consultation” to genuine
partnership and facilitation,
•Personal relationships between local public servants and community members is crucial
to the invitation government can receive from local people, and the role government can
have in community capacity,
•Melding formal “structures” that mediate community involvement with a grassroots
culture of local participation.
•Community members “unlearning” the role of government solely as a “provider” and
government “unlearning” the historical technical assistance approach to communities (Iyayi, 2000)....