Community development needs clearly defined roles and responsibilities of government, companies, NGOs/community-based organizations (CBOs), and communities (table), and shared commitment from all levels within an organization.
The precise roles of the various participants depend on local circumstances and change during the course of both the mine and the community development process. However, some broad principles are clear:
- Government: Has the primary responsibility for ensuring that communities benefit from development on their land or in their region. Governments should take the lead in setting policy and standards to ensure development takes place at the local level, planning the development of social and physical infrastructure and land use, developing systems for project monitoring and evaluation, and protecting the rights and interests of citizens.
- Companies: Can also play an active role to support community development, but they should not assume the role of government at the local level. Where government capacity is insufficient, companies may be forced to take a leadership role but to the extent possible it should be shared with NGOs and community organizations. In the longer-term, however, they should focus on ensuring that local initiatives work constructively alongside regional government development programs and on building partnerships to help develop sustainable community capacities and resources. Most importantly, they should foster skills transfer and encourage the development of small businesses.
- NGOs/CBOs: Can play an important role in advocating on behalf of local communities and in delivering local services. NGOs need, however, to clearly define their roles and to identify where their interests may be different to those of the local community. NGOs involved directly in community issues need to respect different community perspectives toward proposed development and work on building their capacity to articulate local perspectives and to determine that the full range of development options are available to communities.
- Community groups: Play the central role. Community development is essentially the process through which communities address locally defined needs and achieve improvement in quality of life. Development reflects their needs, priorities, and aspirations; is achieved largely through their ownership and commitment to locally defined development goals; and is sustained when they have the capacity, confidence, and opportunity to plan appropriate strategies and mobilize resources to fulfill their development goals.
In addition, international development agencies may also play a role in community development in the mining sector, although they are not always present in areas where mining takes place. Donors have unique influence and responsibility, particularly in harmonizing the standards by which communities are treated and in bringing influence to bear on public and private-sector development actors. They provide an important source of development resources, expertise, and experience and can advise governments, companies, NGOs/CBOs, and communities of good practice as well as helping mobilize financial resources for local development projects.