Rediscovering local capacities. Asset-based approach to rural community development. The case of Poland.
Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) is an approach to sustainable community-driven development based on the works of Kretzmann and McKnight (1993). ABCD is a strategy that considers building on the skills of local residents, the power of local associations, and the supportive functions of local institutions.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of asset-based community development strategy in rural development exemplified by the villages located in lódzkie region (Poland). The reason behind this objective was to rediscover the potential of local capacities rooted in rural communities by analysing their bottom-up activity.
In the case of Polish villages there are currently an increasing number of possibilities for financing grassroots local initiatives. One of such funding tools in the area analysed for the purposes of this research are microgrants. In this study a mixed methods research were applied. The first stage of the research was based on a quantitative analysis of the use of this tool and determining its scale. Afterwards, it was followed by a case study of selected villages chosen on the basis of qualitative analysis of the individual projects content.
The research reveals the following:
The use of the microgrant funding tool for local initiatives can be considered as the implementation of the ABCD approach as the inhabitants in addition to raising an idea of activity, have to demonstrate their own contribution (e.g. community work). The identification of explored assets and the common implementation of projects leads to an increased sense of belonging to the place and community and responsibility for the place.
Asset-based approach by challenging the traditional deficit-based approach can provide an important counterbalance to the processes of destruction of rural identity under the conditions of pushing the concept of urbanisation of the rural areas as a way of its modernisation.
Keywords: asset-based community development|ABCD approach|local communities|rural development |grassroots initiatives