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Asset-based Community Development

A case study of Bawjiase, Ghana
by

Lauren Wright

on 6 July 2016

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Transcript of Asset-based Community Development

Asset-based Community Development: Bawjiase, Ghana
Asset-based Community Development: What is it?
Key Assets addressed in SLA
•Physical Capital: Basic infrastructure, such as roads, transport, and energy
•Financial Capital: Access to savings, and wages
•Human Capital: Skills, knowledge, good health
•Social Capital: Social resources such as informal networks, membership of churches, relationships of trust and reciprocity
•Natural Capital: Access to natural resources, such as land and water
•Political Capital: Capacities of individuals to claim their rights, have influence in the political sphere, hold leaders accountable.
Bawjiase is a rural town in the Central Region of Ghana, and is located about two hours from Accra, the capital. It has a population of about 10,000 people. Approximately half of the residents are farmers, and the other half are in the sales and service sector, with many selling items in the Bawjiase Market. The most common languages spoken in the community are Fante (Twi), Awutu, and Breku.
There are many different approaches that can be taken to Asset-based community development (ABCD), and as a result, there is not one succinct definition. At it's core, ABCD is a way to approach community initiatives through recognizing the skills and resources a community has, as opposed to focusing on what the community is lacking. There are a number of theories that give a basis for ABCD. One is the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach (SLA) See the handout for more details about the specifics of this approach, and remember that this is just one (of many!) examples of how to apply ABCD.
Physical Capital
Bawjiase has a Central Paved Road that goes through the center of the town - this provides access to the thriving market, and a direct route to the capital of Accra, and other larger towns of Kasoa and Swedru. There is also electricity connected through this main road and through other areas of the town
Unfortunately not all areas of town have roads that are paved and easily accesible - backroads in more rural parts of Bawjiase (including the road to UHCC) are often damaged during the rainy season due to flooding
Financial Capital
Bawjiase Rural Development Bank is an important financial resource for many in the community - it provides microfinance services (including loans to women's business cooperatives) and also has access to both western union and moneygram, which are important for remittances (a large source of income for the country of Ghana as a whole).
Bawjiase has a thriving marketplace that is the backbone of the local economy - women are the primary market vendors, and sell everything from food products (all of the fresh produce is sourced locally) to clothing, school supplies, cookware, etc)
Case Study: United Hearts Children Center in Bawjiase, Ghana
United Hearts Children Center (UHCC) is an orphanage located in the rural outskirts of Bawjiase. As a Community Based Organization, UHCC is comitted to creating a future of self-sufficient adults, committed to the future development of Bawjiase. This is achieved through projects in the areas of health, education, food security, and shelter.
UHCC's biggest financial assets are:
Volunteer Fees
Sustainable Fish Pond
Support from Mama Hope
Specifically, the Global Advocate Fellowship
Human Capital
There are a number of government and private schools in Bawjiase. But because Senior High is not free, the majority of students only obtain schooling through junior high.
Bawjiase has a government clinic and a maternitu in a centralized location - these facilities offer blood testing and treatment of common diseases, but is staffed with only nurses, and there is no doctor in the town.
United Hearts is in the process of building a new school, which will provide education to over 200 children in the community. UHCC also provides parental care, health care, and education to 30 children, and engages in projects such as vocational training and computer literacy.
UHCC is family-like in structure, and has over 15 staff members who are committed to enabling a better future for our children. They are the center's biggest asset, and do everything from caring to children, to building the new school, to providing vocational training for the older children.
Social Capital
Families and religious institutions (such as churches and mosques) are essential to the social fabric of the community. Both of these provide a safety net for individuals in the community
Natural Capital
Bawjiase has a surplus of fertile farmland, with the most common crops being yams, cassava, maize, pineapple, and a number of green vegetables.
United Hearts has four acres of land, where they grow yams, cassava, maize, green peppers, carrots, and cabbage.
Practical Application
Conclusions
Political Capital
Ghana has had elections deemed free and fair in recent years, and is renowned for being peaceful.
Bawjiase in particular functions primarily in the context of decisions made by local governing actors (such as chiefs, elders, etc.) This provides a coherent community that can effectively address and solve their own issues.
Bawjiase's Strengths:
-Physical Infrastructure in the town center
- A number of financial resources and thriving local market
- Fertile farm land
- Schools, access to basic healthcare
- Strong social ties, effective local governments

UHCC's strengths:
- Strong volunteer program, stong start to sustainable projects
- Farm land
- School and Children's Center
- Family atmosphere, committed staff
- Great connections with community leaders

Comprehensive - Go beyond your specific project and organization, look at the community context
Embrace diversity - You may have a different perspective. Establish rapport and respectfully share your ideas.
Learn - ALWAYS.
Focus on results - good relationships and community involvement promote real and impactful results. Keep track of them!
Participation and Inclusion - the only way to understand assets, and to address areas of improvement is through forming relationships!
Focus on Assets - first and foremost, look at what your community has to offer!
Civic Responsibility - look at what groups and organizations are already making a difference in the community, and support them
Collaboration and Partnership - learn from community organizations and leaders that are already doing good work
Areas of Improvement
- Infrastructure in rural areas
- Quality Education, access to higher education
- Improved health facilities
Full transcript