The practice of a strengths-based approach to community development in Solomon Islands

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Development Studies Research, 2014, 1 (1), pp. 354 - 367
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© 2014 The Author(s). Published by Routledge. This paper presents empirical findings from research undertaken in Solomon Islands to examine the use of strengths-based approaches (SBAs) by a group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). A summary framework was developed to underpin the analysis, drawing on literature in social work, organizational management, community development, and international development fields. The paper employs this framework to reflect on the practice of six NGOs working in partnership in Solomon Islands over 2009–2014. The findings demonstrate alignment between the NGO practice in Solomon Islands and SBA philosophy and practice as described in the literature, particularly in terms of adherence to beliefs about innate community capacity, the need to draw on community resources to create change, and the delicate balance between a strengths focus and repression of problems that might need to be surfaced. The findings diverged from the literature in how NGOs saw their role. Whilst they saw themselves as facilitators rather than experts, they also saw the development process as a partnership between themselves and communities rather than community led. This paper contributes empirical evidence of the characteristics, complexities and limitations of implementing a SBA in Solomon Islands, including reflections on the tension between self-help and advocacy development strategies.
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