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Recently, the GRCF ran our second ABCD workshop from February 22 – 25 in 4 communities in the Kgetleng region (Derby, Koster, Swartruggens, & Mazista).  Most of the workshop took place in Koster City Hall, with one day taking place in each of the separate communities.  The figure below is a brief overview of the elements of the ABCD process.

In contrast to the Mathopestat ABCD program, which was focused on a single community, the Kgetleng ABCD workshop brought together 4 different communities in a central location.  The attendance was therefore slightly larger than in Mathopestat but also did not feature as many individuals from each of the communities.  Thanks to the strong presence of CDW (Community Development Workers) in this region however, we could make sure that the most interested and dedicated individuals were in attendance.  The CDWs also helped the process run smoothly as they joined the working groups for the activities, and it will be interesting to see what role they will have as the projects develop.  For now, they can provide increased access to government resources which is already highly helpful.  Their presence also gave the process more of a project orientation and there were huge benefits in terms of help with focusing the ABCD activities within groups.

Due to feedback and our own assessment of the ABCD process in Mathopestat we had also added some new paradigms to the ABCD methodology.  In particular we tried to take a survey of all the power relationships in the community – both formal and informal.  In rural communities informal power structures are quite important and overlooked. A cranky and nosy neighbour can have a lot more power than one would think!

We also tried to more rigorously quantify the money going in and out of the communities this time around and we hope to refine this process as we continue with these programs.  Once we have a more developed process in place we will be publishing our results so that other organizations can benefit from what we have learned. In the meantime the ‘leaky bucket’ exercise – where community members are shown how much money enters the community and how much more leaves it than is necessary – is still one of the most powerful to see in action.  You can see who the real entrepreneurs in the community are when you run this exercise, because their eyes widen the most when they see the potential markets for new businesses that could be started up locally.

Overall the process of ABCD once again showed us how powerful a paradigm it could be.  By the end of the 4 days all the community members were buzzing with ideas.  During our visits to the respective communities GRCF staff were also impressed by how quickly assets were identified – fertile farmland, water, and farming skills came together as future agricultural projects; building skills, empty space and building materials could become hospices, and on and on.  With a second large ABCD workshop under our belts, we are next tackling yet another different type of community with the same paradigm.  Soon we will have a set of 10 case studies in very different community profiles.  We cannot wait to share what we have learned with all of our friends of the Foundation as well as others doing this important work all around the world.