To make everyday well-being real for those who are most often left behind, it is critical to put in place, or improve mechanisms that allow people to work together with other actors in society, to solve problems and focus on what is important for well-being. .
The Community Systems Strengthening approach shifts the focus from treating people as “recipients” of services to being active catalysts, who can partner with public and private organisations by solely using faceless programs to address complex problems like health equity. This approach aligns different and often opposing patterns of system behaviours and structures to better support shared goals of everyday well-being.
Swasti consciously partners with communities to strengthen community systems, pivoting around principles of agility so communities are able to maintain their sovereignty, generate demand for services, facilitate them, and negotiate for improvements.
Swasti’s focus has been to design and strengthen community systems that work for them - this includes interweaving health services, safety, security and justice pathways, financial inclusion and institutional development strengthening - all the while creating an inter-web of hyper local support systems with government and non-governmental bodies such as the public distribution system, youth and sports clubs, police, district health systems, and more. A mentoring and coaching approach with community members sees leadership within communities taking responsibility for their health and well-being outcomes, and addressing hurdles to access them.
Community institutions include: Our work on community systems strengthening has been in close collaboration with community partners - Swathi Mahila Sangha, 68 CBOs of women in sex work, across 5 States; supporting community institutions of urban and rural poor to focus on health and well-being along the lines of the Mahila Arogya Samitis (National Health Mission) and Block Level Federations (National Rural Livelihood Missions).
Our Community Systems Strengthening approach pivots around 3 vantage points.
Organisational and leadership strengthening – including management, accountability, and leadership for organisations and community systems. Where organisations exist, we strengthen them and where they don’t, we work with local people to co-create them. These organisations take up facilitation or services with the public and private agencies and complement them where gaps exist. Another area of capacity building is understanding how community organisations can get involved in monitoring and planning, actively engaging with the larger ecosystem.
Enabling environments and advocacy – including community engagement and advocacy for improving the policy, legal and governance environments, and affecting the social determinants of health.
Community networks, linkages, partnerships, and coordination – enabling effective activities, service delivery, and advocacy, maximising resources and impacts, and coordinating collaborative working relationships.
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Work Areas to explore our approach and initiatives in more detail.