This study is about how poor people in Bangladesh organize and manage village organizations (VOs) at the grassroots. The VOs that I studied were from fisherfolk communities, and sponsored by the Community Development Centre (CODEC), a national NGO based in Chittagong, Bangladesh. The field work for this study was carried out from September to December, 1997 through review of CODEC’s documents, participant observation, and direct interviews, with the use of a checklist and probing techniques. The VOs were found rather rigid and structured in terms of program planning and implementation since the VOs were basically created and organized by CODEC. The position of VOs’ members, in most cases, was found as that of followers, and recipients of the programs. The sense of ownership of VO members towards VOs was found minimal. Although CODEC is trying to shift its focus from only credit programs to an overall capacity building approach, the VOs have been found still dependent on CODEC. One of the main reasons behind this dependence is that CODEC’s programs at perception and implementation levels are still built upon by the credit model. The change process in CODEC has not been able to bring significant change at the perception level of the VO members as well as CODEC’s staff at the implementation level. The results show that the effectiveness of the participatory approach depends mainly on the level of feeling and understanding of the target group towards the program. 2 In order to ensure this smooth participation in the development programs, the target group has to be fully involved throughout the process of program planning and implementation beginning right from the conceptualization stage until the end with a clear and shared vision and goal orientation. Only then may the target group feel a sense of belonging and ownership towards the program.


Public Affairs | Social Welfare