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Community Organizing Participatory Action Research (COPAR)

Definition: Is a social development approach that aims to transform the apathetic, individualistic and voiceless poor into dynamic, participatory and politically responsive community. Is a collective, participatory, transformative, liberative, sustained and systematic process of building peoples organizations by mobilizing and enhancing the capabilities and resources of the people for the resolution of their issues and concerns towards effective change in their existing oppressive and exploitative conditions. 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. A continuous and sustained process of educating the people to understand and develop their critical awareness of their existing conditions, working with the people collectively and efficiently on their immediate needs toward solving their long-term problems. IMPORTANCE OF COPAR COPAR is an important tool for community development and people empowerment as this help the community workers to generate community participation in development activities. COPAR prepares people to eventually take over the management of a development program in the future. COPAR maximizes community participation and involvement; community resources are mobilized for health development services. Principles of COPAR 1. People, especially the most oppressed, exploited and deprived sectors are open to change, have the capacity to changed and are able to bring about change. 2. COPAR should be based on the interests of the poorest sectors of society. 3. COPAR should lead to a self-reliant community and society. Process/Methods Used in COPAR A PROGRESSIVE CYCLE OF ACTION-REFLECTION-ACTION which begins with small, local and concrete issues identified by the people and the evaluation and reflection of and on the action taken by them. CONSCIOUSNESS RAISING through experiential learning is central to the COPAR process because it places emphasis on learning that emerges from concrete action and which encircles succeeding action COPAR is PARTICIPATORY AND MASS-BASED because it is primarily directed towards and biased in favor of the poor, the powerless and the oppressed. COPAR is GROUP-CENTERED and not leader-centered. Leaders are identified, emerge and are tested through action rather than appointed or selected by some external forced or entity

Critical Steps (Activities) in COPAR 1. Integration- the health care worker becomes one with the people in order to: a. Immerse himself/herself in the community b. Understand deeply the culture, economy, leaders, history, rhythms and life style in the community. Methods of integration include Participation in direct production activities of the people Conduct of house to house visits Participation in activities like birthdays, fiestas, wakes, etc. Conversing with the people where they usually gather such as in stores, waterwells, washing streams, or in churchyards Helping out in household chores like cooking, washing dishes, etc. 2. Social Investigation- otherwise known as community study -a systematic process of collecting, collating, analyzing data to draw a clear picture of the community - the health worker must remember the following during social investigation: Use of survey questionnaires is discouraged Community leaders can be trained to initially assist the community worker in doing the social investigation Secondary data should be thoroughly examined because much of the information might already be available Social investigation is facilitated if the health worker is properly integrated and has acquired the trust of the people Confirmation and validation of community should be done regularly. 3. Tentative Program Planning - CO to choose one issue to work on in order to begin organizing the people 4. Groundwork going around and motivating the people on a one on one basis to do something on the issue that has been chosen 5. The meeting people collectively ratify what they have already decided individually. The meeting gives the people the collective power and confidence. Problems and issues are discussed 6. Role play means acting out the meeting that will take place between the leaders of the people and the government representatives. It is a way of training the people to anticipate what will happen and prepare them for such eventuality 7. Mobilization or action actual experience of the people in confronting the powerful and actual exercise of the people power 8. Evaluation the people reviewing the steps 1-7 so as to determine whether they were successfully or not in their objectives. 9. Reflection dealing with deeper on going concerns to look at the positive values CO is trying to build in the organization. It gives the people time to reflect on the stark reality of life compared to the ideal 10. Organization the peoples organization is the result of many successive and similar actions of the people. A final organizational structure is set up with elected officers and supporting members.

COPAR Process: Pre - Entry, Entry, Community Action & Organizational Building, Sustenance and Strengthening Pre Entry Conduct preliminary social investigation Initial consultation with government units, NGOs General secondary data Make a list of potential communities Ocular survey of shortlisted communities Interview Barangay officials, leaders, key informants Identify project site Coordinate with LGU, NGOs for assistance Develop survey tools Orientation on baseline survey Courtesy call to community leaders Conduct community assembly Conduct baseline survey (spot map necessary) Develop materials for information dissemination Conduct staff planning /strategizing for entry phase Entry Phase: Social Preparation Phase Integrate with community Deepening social investigation Disseminate information on the program and PHC (house to house, informal gatherings, washing streams) Formulate criteria selection of core group member (with participation of residents) Define roles and functions of the core group members o Social preparation o Organizing community research team o Set up community health organization o Identify potential community workers Mobilizing community to act on their health needs Continue social investigation Conduct team building activities Present baseline survey results for the community Conduct Self-Awareness Leadership Training (SALT) among core group members Consult community to organize o Community Health Organization o Community Research Team Train community researchers