Community Exchanges: A Toolkit for Empowerment

Building Institutions | Mar, 2008

Over 12,000 Indians were killed and thousands rendered homeless by the tsunami caused due to an earthquake in the Indian Ocean on 26 December, 2004. Dasra, in the course of its relief efforts in the aftermath, found community exchanges to be one of the most inclusive and cost-effective ways to foster lasting change at grass-roots level. Drawing from these experiences, Dasra’s report, Community Exchanges: A Toolkit for Empowerment, acts as a guide for organizations on establishing community exchanges, either as new social programs or to incorporate new ideas into existing programs.
Community exchange programs are projects that have a peer-to-peer learning component and are run by community members for the entire community’s benefit. Organizing community exchanges to address social issues is an important mechanism to deliver social change, the report argues, because community exchanges empower the community to address its problems, are much more likely to create lasting change, reinforce the knowledge base of the community and allow beneficiaries to become change leaders by educating more learning communities. The report outlines how these exchanges work particularly well in dealing with disaster mitigation, creating federations of community-based organizations and in mentoring activities.

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