The community-led action process is in many respects an organic extension of the community planning process. As communities discuss and prioritize which harm(s) to children to address, the level of community concern about particular harms to children may increase, thereby boosting the motivation of community members to take action to address those harms. Similarly, discussions of how to address particular harm(s) may increase community members’ desire to move into action now.
Naturally, some of the people who were most animated by and engaged with the community planning process may come forward to help lead the community action to address the selected harm(s) to children. The community-led action may also overlap with community planning—since as the community acts, it learns from its initial steps. As it reflects on its progress and challenges, it may plan for and make adjustments.
In these respects, there are not two entirely separate phases of community-led planning followed by community-led action, but continuous, partially overlapping cycles of community-led planning and action. For the purposes of focus, however, it is useful to examine community-led action as if it were a separate phase.
The purpose of this chapter is to explore community action processes that enable communities to their self-selected harm(s) to children. Its objectives are to:
- outline the processes through which communities take steps to address the selected harm(s) to children and manage their action;
- explore how communities can monitor and evaluate their actions to address the harm(s) to children; and
- examine how to increase the community ownership and sustainability of the community-led action to address the harm(s) to children.
Key Question for Practitioners
How can we help communities to own, manage, and run their own, community-led, sustainable actions on behalf of vulnerable children?
Like all aspects of community-led work, the community-led action is highly contextual, and is created, managed, and led by the community.
In some cases, community-led action can spring up without the extensive planning and steps to develop an inclusive process that were discussed in previous chapters. In some settings, the action process may begin with a small group of people who have identified a harm to children and have decided to take action to address it.
Most communities have a history of collectively planning activities around issues such as poverty, farming, and education and then taking action in accordance with their plans. As they work, they periodically take stock of how they are doing and make needed adjustments. Although they may not refer to these activities as “monitoring and evaluation” (or M&E), the process is important.
The international humanitarian community has prioritized sustainability in its global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The links between these SDGs and child protection are most visible in SDG 16, which targets the ending of abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children. Another target of SDG 16 is ensuring responsive, inclusive, participatory, and representative decision-making at all levels.