Quick Guide 06 – Community Based Organizations: the poor as agents of development

The emergence of community organizations of the poor in Africa has been a very important de- velopment during the past two decades. These organizations, also known as community-based organizations (CBOs) or grassroots organizations, represent the urban poor, either the residents of particular geographical areas or people who share some common identity (for example, they originate from the same area). As structures which allow poor households and poor communities to move from isolation and powerlessness into collective strength, these organizations have become powerful development mechanisms in their countries.

Besides providing a means of idea-sharing, as- set-pooling and mutual support, community or- ganizations create channels for poor people to talk to their local and national governments and to undertake collaborative development projects in housing, upgrading, land tenure, infrastruc- ture and livelihood. Africa’s poor communities are increasingly focused on providing housing and community improvements, in collaboration with other development stakeholders.
Community organizations of the poor can be valuable and resourceful partners when it comes to finding viable housing solutions for the poor. It is therefore important for policy makers to under- stand how these CBOs operate and how governments can best work with them to improve the living conditions of the poor.

This guide is not aimed at specialists, but instead aims to help build the capacities of national and local government officials and policy makers who need to quickly enhance their understanding of low-income housing issues.

Download the rest of the series below, as well as the Facilitator Guide that comes with it: