A well-built neighborhood will support a healthy community, strengthen its productive abilities and create a flourishing environment. In order to effect the necessary change, large-scale investments are required in housing, agro-industrial settlements, community services, employment and education. These endeavors must be innovative, integrated, geographically tailored, culturally sensitive and community-centered.
The creation of self-sufficient communities is needed both in urban and rural Africa. In each case, the industry shaping the fabric of the community’s economy must be location-specific, sensitive to regional priorities and in line with the relevant central government directives.
Within this vision, development in urban areas would focus on fostering state-of-the-art factories, local commercial enterprises and social services to provide employment opportunities for the local population. In rural areas, the innovative concept of communal, commercial agro-industrial farming would be the primary source of employment and economic prosperity. This unique farming concept is modeled on the moshav, the agricultural communities that formed one of the historical cornerstones of Israel’s success in building a thriving modern state based on its human and agricultural resources.
The emphasis in these developments is on communities rather than individual structures. A well-built neighborhood is the foundation for a prosperous community and a vital bridge to economic success. Supporting communities with well-placed investments helps develop markets and expand economic opportunities. First and foremost, it is an investment in people. If these steps are taken, profits will follow.
To undertake the bold residential and commercial construction outlined, planning and action must start at square one. Basic necessities like water, electricity and roads must be given due consideration. This is a complex process that requires stakeholder participation and consultation.
A flourishing living environment is also dependent on the provision of adequate social services. These include health clinics and hospitals, shops and educational facilities from day-care to secondary schools.
Long-term collaboration with governments is crucial to successfully developing much-needed educational facilities.
The World Health Organization recognizes that the provision of universal healthcare is key to sustaining a healthy population. Additionally, preventing disease is more effective than seeking cures. Disease prevention programs – including immunizations and antenatal care visits – would be promoted and offered in both fixed and mobile health care units.
Appropriate recreation facilities – both sporting and cultural – are an important component of a thriving, well-rounded community. Regular physical activity has been shown to reduce the risk of many causes of mortality, and provides many other physiological and psychological benefits. Cultural and entertainment centers provide venues for artistic expression and educational opportunities. Cultivation and promotion of artistic and cultural expression also preserves local culture and tradition, and helps to build and shape a community’s collective notion of identity.
Investing in people – social and environmental sustainability
Community development projects must plan for the future. They must be founded on environmental and economic sustainability principles. Economically sustainable community developments focus on increasing capacity at the local and regional levels, rather than relying on skills and expertise from outside. Projects must therefore be provided with the resources to invest in infrastructure and successfully transfer the necessary skills. As part of the commitment to improve individual capabilities, local leadership must be cultivated to enable local individuals eventually to go on to assume management positions.
Investment in people is the most effective approach to ensure long-term success.