The Romanian Association for Community Development (RACD) is a pioneering NGO, registered in 1999, that is aiming to develop community development practice in Romania.
RACD promotes various complementary approaches (community facilitation, training, seed-funding, cultural interventions, technical assistance, etc) with the main aim to transfer the abilities and knowledge needed to become an open society, decentralized with horizontal relations and mutual respect. Through all our programs we aim to build active and responsible communities, able to cooperate and initiate partnerships with local institutions in order to better address the local needs.
Our mission is
To contribute to the building of a strong civil society by working with poor and disadvantaged communities in Eastern Europe so they can rely on their own power and enjoy self-determination, self-dependence, and improved collective welfare.
ARDC will fulfill the mission by working in two long term strategic directions:
- Working directly at community level on a long-term basis in order to assist and support the creation of effective community based organizing (formal or informal) aiming to improve the community life.
- Promoting community development approach at national and regional level with focus on increasing the interest and capacities of other developmental organizations (NGOs, donors, public institutions) to promote community development programs.
We believe that a developed community is a community where people feel responsible for community well being and are able to identify local common needs and to cooperate in order to find and implement solutions. It is a pro-active and creative community with an intense social life and high level of effective participation.
Our main characteristic is the special attention to the grass root approach, participatory and positive techniques in order to facilitate the raise of sustainable and effective community based organizations.
Expanding community participation, on issues important to them, is a valuable tool to ensure the economic and social sustainability of projects and to build social capital, strengthening the organizational and institutional capacities. In our work we are trying to support and build on communities' existing capacities to organize them in order to increase civic engagement and to strengthen civil society.
We believe that a sustainable community development program should be oriented also to the community leadership development because, building communities mean also to increase the capacity and effectiveness of indigenous leaders to rebuild and sustain communities, and to develop leadership styles emphasizing collaboration and inclusion.
Based on our experience, a community is developed and a civil society is strong when:
- People have a strong local identity, are concerned about their community, feel proud and attached to their community, have a strong sense of the community.
- Community members have a shared vision of their community. Many people have a clear understanding of their problems but they don’t go beyond this looking at what can be done. People who participate, usually are future oriented and creative on imagining solutions, they are motivated and guided by a vision.
- Community members fell responsible for their community; Even if people feel attached to their community and have a clear understanding of what could be done, usually they do nothing because they consider that local administration should take care about this. Feeling responsible is an important attitude that makes people initiate constructive actions.
- Community members fell capable to address community issues (self trust and self-confidence);
- Community members trust themselves and trusting others .
In our understanding these are the values that make people feel the ownership, initiate actions and to cooperate in covering the community needs. These are the values that support a sustainable development of any community; these are the values that define the culture of development, a culture of pragmatic cooperation at community level.
Principles and premises of the ARDC intervention
- The development and the prosperity of a community are determined by the level in which community members cooperate and contribute to the identification and solving of the problems that they have to deal with;
- A permanent change at the level of one community is based on a certain type of “mentality” and for that reason the community development approaches must concentrate on building vales and attitudes, on forming of a participative community culture;
- The process of community development is a complex process that requires an intervention on an average and a long term;
- No matter of the problems upon which the members of the community concentrate on, the intervention of the community development must address first of all, to the assimilation of qualities and abilities at the level of the involved organizations and persons.
The programs developed by ARDC imply a large range of approaches and complementary methods:
- Community facilitation
- Consultancy and technical assistance
- Micro-financing / seed funding
- Networking and experience exchange
- Informing campaigns
- Forum theatre and community theatre
- Editing (publishing) and distribution of specialty materials
- Analyses and researches in the field of the community development
- Seminaries and conferences
RACD has had a constant approach in developing its programs and projects. We have insisted in developing our interventions in a sustainable manner. Besides developing expertise in our traditional areas of interest: working with marginalized communities and groups, offering informations and services towards organizations and professionals, we have always tried to develop new directions in our activity and to keeping a balance between developing old programs and creating new ideas.
Following the strategic directions set for its activity, RACD has developed projects resulting in :
· Interventions in over 100 rural communities in Romania . Working with these communities implied diverse interventions like : community facilitation, technical assistance, training, seed funding, study visits, etc.
· RACD has supported the creation, functioning and development of over 60 community groups and organizations. Those organizations can now mobilize community resources so that they can solve local problems. The organizations work especially with disadvantaged groups in their communities and have as members or advisers representatives of those groups.
· RACD has had interventions in 13 counties. Most of the organization’s activities have been developed in 2 strategic regions: Buzau, Vrancea, Ialomita and Dolj, Gorj, Mehedinti.
· Community groups developed by RACD have implemented over 180 projects targeting problems identified at local level. Those projects were developed using local resources or by contracting external grants. The total value of the grants obtained by the community organizations is above 500 000 USD.
· More then 400 people have attended RACD trainings.
· There have been 130 training events organized by RACD for community leaders and community development practitioners, with a total of more then 400 training days.
· RACD has contributed in a systematic way to promoting the community development domain in Romania and Eastern Europe. The organization is part of 3 networks active in community development: Rural Net- national network of organizations active in this field, CEE CN- Central and Eastern European Citizens Network – over 30 organizations active in promoting a democratic citizenship in Central and Eastern Europe, CEE-CDN – Central and Eastern European Community Development Network- 16 organizations working in this field in the area.
· RACD succeeded in developing and promoting a new methodology meant to promote civic attitudes working in schools. It is called “Active Community School” and it offered the chance for the “Community Development” curricula in 20 schools in Romania. In order to promote this approach we have built partenerships with the Ministry of Education and School Inspectorates.RACD’s expertise is recognized at national and international level and it’s working in partenership with over 30 NGO and institutions in Romania and Europe.