The philosophy underpinning community-led development is one of community empowerment. It is illustrated by broad community engagement to identify shared issues and concerns to generate local solutions.
The community-led development approach focusses on communities as a whole, rather than on specific programmes or activities.
The principles of community-led development shift the focus away from small grants for individual projects and/or organisations, to an approach where communities have access to flexible funding that contributes to overall community wellbeing.
The Government is supporting community-led development by providing support, advice and funding, but the work is led by the community.
The Department of Internal Affairs’ regional community advisers are working with four communities which form the community-led development pilot.
It was originally envisaged that the pilot would run to 30 June 2015, but lessons from the evaluation about the time needed to engage with communities and develop community plans, plus accommodating the pace at which communities are able to proceed, resulted in a decision to extend the support for the four communities until 30 June 2016.
The participating communities were selected because they had strengths and leadership to build on, and had identified challenges in their communities that they wanted to address. They also represented the diverse communities within New Zealand.
The community-led development pilot is managed by Community Operations within the Department. The Policy group within the Department is undertaking an evaluation of the pilot. The evaluation is based on an action research approach and uses case study methodology to assess both the implementation and impact of the pilot in the participating communities. It identifies lessons that can be applied throughout the pilot.