Though nearly all of the programs of the Lutheran World Service in Asia started as a response to human suffering after natural or man-made disasters, most of the programs, including all the Asian programs, have now established long-term development activities among poor and marginalized people.
The programs have five main perspectives which LWS makes an effort to maintain: a community-based approach, a limited time span, the local mobilization of resources, a balanced gender perspective, and a contextual, needs-based approach.
Intervention is largely through community organizations or partner organizations. Emphasis is on developing the capacity of the communities or groups to run their own plans and programs, so that they are able to develop and sustain processes that they themselves have started.
The LWS takes the role of facilitator, in the areas of technical help and resources, advice and guidance.
Limited Time Span
All LWS interventions are limited in time. The support to communities and groups will vary as to time and intensity, according to the nature and activity level agreed with each community and group. Flexibility and due respect for local contexts will have to be kept in mind.
During the time of intervention, emphasis is put on creation and consolidation of human and material community resources, so that the community can take over the development activities. This is in order to avoid dependency and ensure future sustainability after the LWS leaves.
Special efforts are made to promote savings habits and to set up community-based funds like revolving funds, grain banks, health funds, etc. In many activities LWS input will depend on community participation in cost sharing.
There is a need to give special attention to the gender perspective as well. In practice, because of discrimination of women and the ggirl child,h it means a specific emphasis on these groups. Women are trained and encouraged to organize to address social and economic problems. Economic empowerment of women is also an important area of emphasis. Women are trained in vocational skills and management of micro enterprises. They are encouraged to save, and then to put that capital to use in their own projects.
Contextual, Need-Based Approach
All interventions are planned together with the community. The determination of how to proceed with the programs will depend on what issues the local communities and groups decide are most important.
LWS Activity around Asia
Lutheran World Service presently has programs in India, Nepal, Cambodia, and Bangladesh. Most of these programs concentrate on long-term development in rural communities and on disaster preparedness. In India, there is also an emphasis on urban ministry; in Nepal, there is assistance to Bhutanese refugees; and in Cambodia there is the problem of de-mining and resettlement.
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