by crossriverwatch admin
In cross river today many of my friends have talk about how the present administration has empowered rural communities in terms of projects but the only problem is the poor quality of the projects and the lack of monitoring and wastage in the system.
But none of us are a talking about whether these projects are creating local jobs or not. At the core of the concept of empowerment is the idea of power. The possibility of empowerment depends on two things.
First, empowerment requires that power can change. If power cannot change, if it is inherent in positions or people, then empowerment is not possible, nor is empowerment conceivable in any meaningful way. In other words, if power can change, then empowerment is possible.
Second, the concept of empowerment depends upon the idea that power can expand. This second point reflects our common experiences of power rather than how we think about power.
To clarify these points, we first discuss what we mean by power in Cross River State. To create change we must change individually to enable us to become partners in solving the complex issues facing us. In collaborations based on mutual respect, diverse perspectives, and a developing vision, people work towards creative and realistic solutions.
We in Cross River State should see empowerment as a multi-dimensional social process that helps people gain control over their own lives. It is a process that fosters power in people for use in their own lives, their communities, and in their society by acting on issues that they define as important; so in our own case what do we classify as important?
Cross River rural people and communities can’t do this without the state government providing the opportunities, resources and support that they need to become involved themselves. So what is empowerment in our state when the level of poverty and food insecurity is so much across the state.
I would like to know seriously in which way rural empowerment has worked for us in Cross River State. What do we really understand about empowerment in Cross River State of Nigeria.
From our own sense does empowerment mean the lack of social services, or the only work in town which is teaching, inadequate facilities or poor implementation of policies, or what does it mean to us? And what are the practical standard needed in building the relationship between community development and government empowerment?
What are our basic concepts, values and aptitudes? Do we understand our localities? Do we help people find common cause with others or single community groups, advocates, champions and representatives, or do government agencies understand and work with communities and manage community development and help other workers contribute to it?
These standards are needed because we need direct influence and involvement, which is the essence of participatory democracy. Community empowerment is therefore both about boosting the internal strengths of local communities and about the interface between communities and public authorities, services and governance.
The improvement and management of neighborhoods and localities is necessarily a shared enterprise between local residents and the whole landscape of local public and private bodies.
This approach, sometimes called co-production, is what reduces crime, reduces isolation and depression, improves educational attainment, improves health and all other factors. It is this approach which therefore offers genuine economies in public services, as well as greater democratic energy.
In my own views empowerment should be much more than that. Empowerment should be a process that challenges our assumptions about the way things are and can be. It should challenge our basic assumptions about power, helping, achieving, and succeeding.
To begin to demystify the concept of empowerment, we need to understand the concept broadly in order to be clear about how and why we narrow our focus of empowerment for specific programs and projects and to allow discussion of empowerment across Ministerial departments and community lines.
Cross River State can use this construct in empowerment in many of its departments for example in community development, education, public relation Health, environment, economics, and social movement and organizations in the state etc.
How empowerment is understood varies amongst these perspectives and understanding empowerment becomes a critical issue for us as we grapple with the task of empowering people in our rural communities and sharing our common values across the state.
Paulina Morphy Fogg is a Cross River born UK based health service provider.
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