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FAQs on Community Organizing

9)What is Issue Based Community Organizing (IBCO) Approach

This refers to an organizing approach which revolves around issues or problems that:

a) Are felt by a significant number of people in the community;

b) Can be resolved if the people use their numbers in negotiating with a target group, usually outside the community, and

c) Have a high probability of being resolved if collectively acted upon.

The problem can be any issue present in the community — i.e. poor water supply, lack of access to health services, low prices of farm produce, unjust tenancy relations, or the existence of a land monopoly — that can be identified and prioritized by the people themselves. This approach is considered to be effective for the following reasons:

a) Conscientizes the people, as it exposes them to the reality of oppression and its forms in a locality;

b) Crystallizes the meaning of power for the people, since it requires theparticipation of as many people in the community as possible to succeed.

c) Involves the people in national transformation efforts through their advocacy on national issues;

d) Breaks the inferiority complex of the poor, since the process forces them to face people in authority;

e) Organizes the people with less externally and internally generated funds.

This organizing approach is also known as the Alinsky-Freire approach, taken from the principles introduced by Saul Alinsky and Paulo Freire.

In the beginning, rural community organizers of different streams were antagonistic to each other. Organizers using the issue-based approach, for instance, called the organizers using the socio-economic approach "advocates of palliatives," and deemed them ineffectual in bringing about true change in the community and society in general. Organizers utilizing the socio-economic project approach, on the other hand, called the issue-based organizers "arrogant," "idealist," and "manipulative." Both claimed to work for the people. In that conflict, the people in the communities were the most affected.

Fortunately, the nineties have seen an end to this battle. The experiences of the past have pointed out the value of the integration of all methods and resulted in the evolution of a new perspective. Participant-organizers at the Rural CO Forum realized that for as long as the organizing process addresses the varied areas of concern of a community, any approach that responds to these concerns will do.


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