“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”
This holds a very true meaning in the non-profit sector with regards to helping communities be more self-reliant by governing their own lives and economies, and is one of the most sustainable solutions to solving long-term poverty, food security and related problems in the world.
Making communities self-reliant is a process and does not happen overnight. However, the starting point is that government and non-profit organisations make it the central tenet of their work.
Self-reliance has a broad meaning but to understand the gist of it we can say that it involves 1) knowing that people can solve a problem for themselves, 2) facilitating them by providing the resources and skills, and 3) granting them freedom from external obstacles.
In terms of how the non-profit sector can contribute in making communities more resilient and self-reliant is in the center of their programme design, and a comprehensive approach that considers not just immediate and recovery interventions after disasters, but how these programmes can be managed in the long term by the communities through their own funding mechanisms and resources. This doesn’t mean that communities are left all alone to solve their own issues but in fact based on providing them the necessary skills and facilitation, and the right ecosystem. This is because everyone in the society, whether community members, government, or non-profit organisations rely on each other for a healthy and sustainable economy.
If you are building a community infrastructure like a block of school in a village and the community contributes 50% costs, then in 5 years contributes 75%, until they can build a school without any support – that is self-reliance.