Community Organizing Participatory Research (COPAR)

Definitions of COPAR:

· A social development approach that aims to transform the apathetic, individualistic and voiceless poor into dynamic, participatory and politically responsive community.

· A collective, participatory, transformative, liberative, sustained and systematic process of building people’s organizations by mobilizing and enhancing the capabilities and resources of the people for the resolution of their issues and concerns towards effecting change in their existing oppressive and exploitative conditions (1994 National Rural Conference)

· A process by which a community identifies its needs and objectives, develops confidence to take action in respect to them and in doing so, extends and develops cooperative and collaborative attitudes and practices in the community (Ross 1967)

· A continuous and sustained process of educating the people to understand and develop their critical awareness of their existing condition, working with the people collectively and efficiently on their immediate and long-term problems, and mobilizing the people to develop their capability and readiness to respond and take action on their immediate needs towards solving their long-term problems (CO: A manual of experience, PCPD)

Importance of COPAR:

1. COPAR is an important tool for community development and people empowerment as this helps the community workers to generate community participation in development activities.

2. COPAR prepares people/clients to eventually take over the management of a development programs in the future.

3. COPAR maximizes community participation and involvement; community resources are mobilized for community services.

Principles of COPAR:

1. People, especially the most oppressed, exploited and deprived sectors are open to change, have the capacity to change and are able to bring about change.

2. COPAR should be based on the interest of the poorest sectors of society

3. COPAR should lead to a self-reliant community and society.

COPAR Process:

· A progressive cycle of action-reflection action which begins with small, local and concrete issues identified by the people and the evaluation and the reflection of and on the action taken by them.

· Consciousness through experimental learning central to the COPAR process because it places emphasis on learning that emerges from concrete action and which enriches succeeding action.

· COPAR is participatory and mass-based because it is primarily directed towards and biased in favor of the poor, the powerless and oppressed.

· COPAR is group-centered and not leader-oriented. Leaders are identified, emerge and are tested through action rather than appointed or selected by some external force or entity.

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