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Self-help and Empowerment

In all projects—whether rapid relief after a disaster or a regular development project—Helping Hands and their partners are very careful in avoiding dependency and instead strive to empower people to help themselves. The local population is fully involved in the process from the project planning stage onwards and is active at all levels of implementation, monitoring and evaluation. In this way development measures are culturally relevant and locally owned.

A variety of project activities are specifically geared towards self-help: All projects include education or vocational training as well as awareness raising sessions which support independence of individuals and communities. Self-help groups, loan programs and the establishment of micro enterprises also significantly contribute to independence and empowerment.

All long-term projects have the ultimate goal of becoming self-supporting and sustainable, so that they are eventually fully locally owned and run by the beneficiaries themselves. A number of components contribute towards this goal, most importantly the people's improved economic status through income generating activities, awareness through education, and ability to organize and govern themselves through self-help groups out of which are formed cluster-level associations and eventually so-called "federations". The cluster-level association stage has been reached in Bangladesh where it has proven very effective.