Community Development: Principles, Obstacles, Aims and Objectives

According to Child Family Community Australia, Community development is a process where agencies support community members to identify and take collective action on important issues. Here, community members consider Community workers to be experts in their lives and communities, hence valuing their services and community knowledge and wisdom.

The United Nations defines community development as ” a process where community members come together to take collective action and generate solutions to common problems.

Community development

Research shows that Community development is rooted in the belief that all people should have access to health, wellbeing, wealth, justice, and opportunity (even where the option is not equal). It’sIt’s noteworthy that the notion of communal development owes a great deal to the efforts of colonial administrators.

Hence Community Development can be summarized by the following concepts:

  • Reflection-action cycle, you do a specific action upon reflection or thorough analysis of any given community facing or confronting a particular situation. Then you reflect upon the action taken on its effect and consequences.
  • Empowerment of people in a community, whether in knowledge or skills, capacitates them to take action upon their own volition.
  • Awareness building makes people wise and participative in their community for the common good and welfare.

The essence of communal development is in:

the values that underpin it such as –

  • Trust (including respect)
  • Mutuality
  • Integrity
  • Promoting agency: empowerment & enhancing capacity

and the approach such as –

  • Co-ownership
  • Equity
  • Shared values
  • Enhancing capacity through the intentional development of opportunity
  • Collaboration

What is involved in community development?

It is a vague term, but it has a particular meaning within the government and city planning fields. It is a set of strategies to improve the overall well-being, emphasizing equal citizen access to housing, parks, employment, public services, etc. Specific programs that have been used to achieve this end have included the

  • Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)
  • New Markets Tax Credits
  • Community Development Corporations (CDCs)
  • Redevelopment programs, and
  • Model Cities (going back to the 1960s)

It is essentially an effort to pool community resources to upgrade community conditions, resulting in broad benefits.

Communal Development involves creating a community that meets the needs of people. You have to consider a community with many people like your family and children. A community with a diverse population might develop places, libraries, and community centres that would cater to those who may need help adapting, speaking the language, and learning skills for jobs.

Community with many seniors might create shuttle services and home help services to meet their needs. A society that has deteriorated and been crime-infested needs to be revamped and given assets for pride, comfort, enjoyment, and safety for the residents.

What are the principles of community development?

  • Community Participation

Everyone has a valuable contribution to make, and community members can join in at any level. Volunteers and community members are integral to the decision-making, evaluation, provision, participation, and direction setting at all communal development practice levels.

  • Community Ownership

Members are actively involved in decision-making and have ownership of the activities. It is a process of self-determination, awareness, and collective action.

  • Empowerment

A process that respects, values and enhances people’s ability to control their lives is put into practice. This process encourages people to meet their needs and aspirations in a self-aware and informed way that takes advantage of their skills, experience, and potential. Change and growth occur through informing and empowering individuals and communities.

  • Lifelong Learning

Learning is integrated into community development activities, thus building and supporting people’s skills, knowledge, abilities, and resilience. In addition, they develop the health, wellbeing, and connection of people and their families, through formal and informal pathways in education, employment, and self-development.


The diverse contributions that people make are valued, no matter what their background or varying abilities. Individual and local needs are acknowledged and addressed, often through informal interaction. Identifying these needs and issues through a range of methods is instrumental to informing the planning and development of activities and programs.

Access and Equity

Programs are accessible and welcoming. They promote a fairer distribution of economic resources and power between people by improving their communities’ social, environmental, economic, and cultural infrastructures.

Social Action

Internal and external factors that impact the local community are analyzed and relationships between individuals, groups, organizations, and districts are transformed through collective action. It can also be considered in the context of social movements. For example, we are advocating for changes in shared social values.


In meeting individual and group needs, communal Development practitioners act with, or on behalf of, community members.


Linking, forming alliances, collaborating, and working with individuals, groups, agencies, government, and businesses are crucial, with the interaction between formal and informal methods to achieve connections within the local communities.

Self Help

Individuals are supported in coming together in a caring group environment to share information and knowledge. They also share skills and life experiences so that each participant can reach their own goals.

Culturally Safe and Affirming

Cultural Diversity is a strength the requires mutual understanding and respect. Cultural practices, language, and values differ but can be a powerful unifying force. Communal Development provides a safe cultural space to affirm diverse groups’ positive characteristics and identify common goals and universal human aspirations.

Builds Community Capacity and Resilience

Personal resilience is interdependent with social stability. Community Development builds relationships between people and helps resolve conflicts by making understanding and accepting of differences. Community Development raises the capacity of a community to support those most disadvantaged. This capacity-building outcome is also referred to as “Social Capital.”

Community Development supports socially conscious democracy

It engages community members in the democratic process. It values the perspective of every citizen. It helps them make informed decisions and seeks to educate them in inspirational and efficient ways.

Communal Development builds healthy, sustainable communities

The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion states that the prerequisites for health in a community are peace, shelter, enough food, adequate income to support individuals and families, a stable ecosystem, sustainable resources, social justice, and equity.

Communal Development is ubiquitous and builds adaptive strategies

Communal development is a process and an outcome that manages the inevitable and unexpected consequences of change. A community may be bound by geography or common goals and ideas geographically dispersed across the globe and traverse cultural and national boundaries.

Societal Leadership is fostered from within the community

A Community Development practitioner does not direct it. A core principle of Communal development is a commitment to participatory planning.

Action orientated research

Communal Development requires constant research and should be evidence-based on both Qualitative and Quantitative data.

Communal Development builds shared identity and belonging.

We all want to belong to a group that accepts us and values our contribution.

What are the obstacles to community development?

Communal development is based on human rights, equality, social justice, diversity, and respect. The communal story is based on self-determination, where people and communities have the right to make their own decisions and choices. However, there are some barriers/obstacles in community development:

  • Lack of communication
  • Lack of public participation
  • Lack of competency-based Leadership
  • Lack of infrastructure
  • No initial funding
  • Waste dumping
  • Lack of short-term funding
  • Lack of ongoing funding
  • Lack of stakeholder participation.

For the community’s development, the people living in any society must understand their responsibility and collectively participate in overcoming these obstacles. There are others obstacles to development like Conception of time, Political context, Colonial legacy, Socioculture heritage, Sociopolitical organization. These obstacles create hurdles for the development of any community.

Are you interested in pursuing a career in community development?

As the world is changing, we need to change with it. Enhance your leadership skills to meet today’s challenges with a master’s in community development degree.

Some of the skills you will learn with a masters in community development degree:

  • Growing Organizations
  • Monitoring & Evaluating Programs
  • Sustainable Nature Use
  • Researching Social Change
  • 21st Century Communications

Top Community Development Courses offered by institutions

Future Generations University helps people learn to shape better futures for their communities and the world. Learn from our faculty of experts the interdisciplinary field of Applied Community Development, start, and scale-up community-driven change that is inclusive and sustainable.

  • Master in Community Development and Social Innovation By Keystone master studies

Starting from the UN sustainable development goals, this master’s program in Community Development and Social Innovation offers a platform for learning about cooperation and leading for change.

  • Master’s in Community Development and Planning By Clarke University

In Clark’s Community Development and Planning program, students learn about the relations between power and capital that produce inequity; They know how to use this knowledge to build partnerships and capacity in people, places, organizations, and institutions to promote structural change.

  • Community Development and Action (M.Ed.) From Peabody College

Lead social change and transform the world. The master’s degree in Community Development and Action (CDA) combines theory, research, and practice to equip you to become a change agent in organizations and communities that support positive human development.

The Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Community Development and Action is a two-year graduate program. It is through the Department of Human and Organizational Development. It attracts students from around the world committed to learning how to create positive, community-level change.

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