Community driven development empowers people by giving responsibility to the community.
By virtue, this allows community members to work together and take a vital part in decision making. In so doing, opportunities are built, people’s voices are strengthened allowing them to freely demand greater accountability of the institutions that are relevant to their livelihoods, and to promote sustainable development. rise international prides itself in providing linkages to skills and resources where and how they are needed. rise believes that merely giving what you think will “help” may not help at all. That is why a community driven development approach is fundamental in all the projects carried out by rise.

This time last year in 2019, rise international, in partnership with Possible Dreams Foundation, piloted a program with a rural community in Lesotho called Ha Sekants’i. As a means to tackling economic and infrastructural needs that the community identified as priorities, through the construction of a pedestrian bridge in collaboration with a group of international volunteers from Malta, sponsored by an international development company called J Portelli Projects.

This footbridge helped the community gain safe access to health care services, the market and also enabled children to get to school without having to go through the river which is menacing and at times impossible when it rained or snowed. With the help of community members and the guidance of the Roads Directorate, rise was able to construct the bridge in just two months

The community of Ha Sekants’i remain proud of the footbridge. It has become their reminder of the power of the Letsema concept – an African tradition of volunteering one’s labor to community projects. 
“We are pleased that through this partnership we finally have a footbridge. I am 86 years old now, I really never thought this would happen in my lifetime” – Abiel Khanyapa, Ha Sekants’i community member.

Alkire et al., (2001) demonstrated that by directly relying on communities to drive development activities, community driven development has the potential to make poverty reduction efforts more demand responsive, more inclusive, more sustainable, and more cost effective than traditional centrally led programs, thus increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of poverty reduction efforts. We can proudly attest to this statement.

One year on, the community of Ha Sekants’i has developed vastly. The only rural village in Lesotho with a permanent outdoor photo exhibition. Ha Sekants’i has become a popular destination for visitors looking for an authentic eco-experience. In collaboration with Possible Dreams Foundation, the Ha Sekants’i community is now raising funds to construct a community learning centre in the village.

Photo credit: Justice Kalebe

Catch up on the project on this link