Perceptions of empowerment and power in community development programs : case study of Tanganyika Christian Refugee Service
The purpose of the present case study is to examine the local understandings and experiences of community empowerment, especially in terms of the perceived changes and the evolving power relations triggered by the empowerment intervention, in the context of the Tanzanian NGO Tanganyika Christian Refugee Service. Furthermore, on a more general level, the aim of the study is to look into the possibilities of the empowerment approach to reduce the striking inequalities in the Sub-Saharan African countries, offering them a more sustainable way out of poverty. The data was collected during an internship in the study context in Tanzania in the summer of 2013, the secondary data consisting of official documents and reports provided by the NGO; the primary data consisting of 15 qualitative interviews conducted with the staff and the community members. Phenomenological hermeneutic approach was chosen as the data analysis methods, enabling the in-depth comprehension of the abstract and complex phenomenon of empowerment. The findings indicate that the empowerment resulting from the program intervention is to a large extent genuine and sustainable, affecting also the internal power relations of the community. An empowered community is an independent, active, equal and harmonious collective with all the possibilities to develop further and reach prosperity. The empowerment approach has, indeed, a lot of potential as a sustainable way out of poverty, as long as it is genuine, emerging from within the individuals and the collective. ...
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