The role of a resource centre in the empowerment of community based organisations in Cape Town's townships

Zeus, Marion (2011-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The aim of the study was to assess the needs for a Resource Centre (RC) run by Community Connections (CC), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) based in Philippi, Cape Town. The overall objective of the RC is the empowerment of Community Based Organisations (CBOs). Community Connections’ mission is to support community development in South Africa by building the capacity of CBOs to initiate, manage and sustain local empowerment and self help initiatives. Research paradigms for the study were critical theory with its aim of emancipation and an approach that favours transformative action, as well as postmodernism with its appreciation of local contextualised knowledge and value based action. The research problem was addressed through action research and a case study approach. The researcher did an internship at CC between March and November 2008. During this period data was collected through participant observation as well as interviews, namely thirteen semi-structured interviews with CBOs and four additional interviews with practitioners of the NGO and external stakeholders. The study was motivated by an approach to development that aims at transformation to increase social justice and the strengthening of vulnerable and marginalised groups. The transformative potential of development is discussed through an analysis of related concepts such as social capital, participation and empowerment. It was found that discourses and social practices can shape the way people participate and that the environment also influences participation through the availability of space for participation and debate. Empowerment needs the critical consciousness of people and takes place when the inequality in power relations is addressed. Development therefore needs to be people centred, value meaningful participation and aim at inverting existing imbalances in access to assets and resources in society. The review evaluates suggestions for civil society practice that supports a transformative, learning and partnership based approach to development. To address the research question of how an NGO Resource Centre can most effectively contribute to creating empowering linkages between CBOs and other stakeholders, their external relationships were assessed. Relevant stakeholders include CBO funders, NGOs and government departments and institutions. The findings of the research describe those relationships with a focus on the imbalances in power and how they manifest themselves in practice. The relationship between CBOs and Community Connections was assessed as well as the relevance of specific services that the RC would provide. The recommendations focus on how the RC can support the strengthening of CBOs in their specific environment, and how they can be enabled to act upon their environment through access to relevant information, knowledge and capacities. Specific recommendations for the RC focus on the learning in Community Connections through the integration of services, making the NGO more accessible for CBOs through the constant availability of certain services, and further research that can strengthen the work of Community Connections and the empowerment of CBOs.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie het ten doel gehad om ondersoek in te stel na die vereistes en behoeftes van ʼn Hulpmiddel Sentrum (HS), bedryf deur Community Connections (CC), ʼn nieregeringsorganisasie (NRO) gebaseer in Philippi, Kaapstad. Die oorkoepelende doelwit van die HS is die bemagtiging van gemeenskapsgebaseerde organisasies (GGO‘s). Community Connections se missie is om gemeenskapsontwikkeling in Suid Afrika te ondersteun deur die uitbouing van die vermoë van GGO‘s om plaaslike bemagtiging en self-help inisiatiewe te inisieer, te bestuur en te onderhou. Die navorsingsparadigmas vir die studie was kritiese teorieë met hulle kenmerkende klem op emansipasie en ʼn benadering wat voorkeur gee aan transformatiewe aksie, asook postmodernisme, met waardasie van plaaslik-gekontekstualiseerde kennis en waardegedrewe aksie. Die navorsingprobleem is aangespreek deur aksie-navorsing en ʼn gevalle studie-benadering. Die outeur het ʼn internskap by Community Connections deurloop vanaf Maart tot November 2008. Gedurende hierdie tydperk is data bekom deur deelnemende waarneming asook onderhoude, naamlik dertien semigestruktureerde onderhoude met GGO‘s en vier addisionele onderhoude met praktisyns van die NRO‘s en ander eksterne belanghebbendes. Die studie is gemotiveer deur ʼn benadering tot ontwikkeling wat gerig is op transformasie ten einde sosiale geregtigheid te bevorder en kwesbare en gemarginaliseerde groepe te versterk. Die transformatiewe potensiaal van ontwikkeling word bespreek deur ʼn analise van verwante konsepte soos sosiale kapitaal, deelname en bemagtiging. Daar is bevind dat diskoerse en sosiale praktyke deelname kan beïnvloed en ook dat die omgewing ʼn impak uitoefen op deelname as gevolg van die beskikbaarheid van ruimte vir deelname en debat. Bemagtiging vra vir ʼn kritiese bewussyn by gemeenskappe en vind plaas wanneer die ongelykheid van magsverhoudings aangespreek word. Ontwikkeling moet dus gemeenskapsgesentreerd wees, erkenning gee aan betekenisvolle deelname en daarop gemik wees om die wanbalans in die toegang tot bates en hulpbronne om te keer. Die studie evalueer voorstelle vir gemeenskapsgebruike wat ʼn transformatiewe, kundigheidsvormende en vennootskapsgedrewe benadering tot ontwikkeling ondersteun. In ʼn poging om die navorsingsvraag te beantwoord van hoe ʼn NRO hulpmiddel sentrum optimaal kan bydra tot die daarstelling van brûe tussen GGO‘s en ander belanghebbendes, is hulle eksterne verhoudings geëvalueer. Relevante belanghebbendes sluit GGO-befondsers, NRO‘s en regerings-departemente en instellings in. Die bevindinge van die navorsing beskryf hierdie verhoudings en fokus op die magsongelykhede en hoe hulle in die praktyk beleef word. Die verhoudings tussen GGO‘s en Community Connections is ondersoek asook die toepaslikheid van spesifieke dienste wat die HS sou voorsien. Die aanbevelings fokus op hoe die HS kan bydra tot die versterking van GGO‘s in hulle spesifieke omgewing en op watter wyses hulle bemagtig kan word om ʼn invloed op hulle omgewing te hê deur die toegang tot relevante inligting, kennis en vaardighede. Spesifieke aanbevelings t.o.v. die HS fokus op die opleiding van CC deur die integrasie van dienste, ʼn poging om NRO‘s meer toeganklik te maak vir GGO‘s deur die konstante beskikbaarheid van sekere dienste en verdere navorsing wat die werksaamhede van Community Connections kan versterk en die GGO‘s kan bemagtig.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/6660
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