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What's odd with Asset-Based Community Development? : The ABCDs Part II

Updated: Sep 1, 2022

New Orleans Coffee Import Co. is born through friendship and church partnerships through the Episcopal Church.

This blog series, The ABCD's, shares the story of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines' journey: from overcoming a dependency mindset, to pioneering a new development model, and sharing its lessons with marginalized communities.

Two strengths of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines' development program (The E-CARE Foundation, that's Episcopal Communities for Renewal & Empowerment) is that it lives within the context it works and it incorporates lessons learned through experience into practice.

Community association meeting inside the church. Leaders emphasize values formation as they plan livelihood projects.

While most development models’ only metric of success is financial which has “tended to weaken positive values and brought about self-centeredness” in the Philippines context, the ECP’s development program stresses that projects must “contribute towards the formation or strengthening of systems and relationships that embody the values of the Kingdom of God.” The program emphasizes building a loving and just community through the values of cooperation and enabling everyone to reach his or her full potential.

Another learning was that households in impoverished communities ranged in their amount of assets and that development projects tended to help those who already had some assets to access opportunities that micro-enterprise projects, water projects or coops provided. To address this, the development program pursued projects designed to help the poorest of the poor, those who could not otherwise avail of a development project’s benefits, while also supporting the entrepreneurial poor through credit and vital services.

Compare to most other international development models

Many conventional development theories are needs-based, looking at what a community lacks and giving it to them. This may be large grants or providing them with water systems, schools, agricultural infrastructure, etc. The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t value the community’s capacity to improve its own economic well being. Being the ever-recipient of handouts builds the mentality that one is incapable of helping oneself and must rely on a benefactor to provide for his needs.

On the other hand, Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD), developed in the early 1990s, identifies a community’s existing strengths and resources, and leverages them for community development.

In fact, it’s also been applied here in the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana, which has created an asset map of resources and ministries in the region.

The ABCD way grows existing blessings, using what's already been given to us to move forward on the path of holistic community development.

NOCI partners with the Episcopal Church in the Philippines to empower smallholder coffee farmers through asset-based community development (ABCD) and to promote ABCD as an effective, life-affirming development path.

Stay tuned to learn how the Episcopal Church 'walks the walk' and learns firsthand the effectiveness of the ABCD approach.

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