BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Global Health and Community Engagement



Engagement is a two-way process which involves any interaction and communication, with the goal of generating mutual benefit. It is a planned process where identified groups of people who are connected by geographic location, common interest, affiliation or identity, work together to address issues affecting their well-being. Depending on the situation, engagement is  used to broadly describe various interactions between people and may represent both one-way or two-way interactions including consultation, communication, education, public participation, participative democracy, partnership, information delivery, involvement and collaboration. These interactions lead to decision-making through empowered action in either informal groups or formal partnerships. Community is also used broadly to define various groups of people who may be stakeholders, interest groups, citizens, union members or colleagues. The term community may represent a geographic location (community of place), a community of similar interest (community of practice), or a community of affiliation or identity (such as industry or sporting club).

What is Community Engagement? Community Engagement is a means by which community members plan, work and learn as a united group on behalf of their communities in order to conceive and achieve present and future goals that are common to, and benefit the community at large. As Community Engagement increases, citizens progress from being just passive consumers of information to taking active leadership and decision making roles. Engaging as much members in a community as possible is a critical component of any work that will greatly impact that community in any way. It involves listening to the community’s needs through needs assessment, interviews, focus groups or surveys and then responding to address those needs using their feasible recommendations. Engagement increases unity and allows for the community to be responsible and have ownership over the outcomes of their decisions.

The major aim of engagement in any community is to foster inclusiveness, sustainability and ensure considerations and decisions are reflective of the diversity that exists within the community. These in-turn promote the quality of life, wellbeing and improve the health of the engaged and empowered citizens and enable them to take control of their health.

In the academic environment, community engagement describes the numerous ways in which the activities and benefits of research are shared with the public and community. It is a process that involves informing, engaging, partnering with, and empowering citizens about initiatives designed for them, in a collaborative manner so as to generate solutions and reach desired outcomes together. In politics and policy making, community engagement specifically relates to the role of government which involves mutual communication and deliberation that occurs between government and citizens. It is a bottom-up approach, rather than a dictated top-down approach, where the government ensures decisions are reflective of the input of citizens. Generally, community engagement takes different forms and covers a broad range of activities including:

  • Informing the community of policy directions from government or intending partners
  • Consulting the community as part of a process to develop policies, or build community awareness and understanding.
  • Involving the community through a range of mechanisms to ensure that issues and concerns are understood and considered as part of the decision-making process.
  • Collaborating with the community by developing partnerships to formulate options and provide recommendations.
  • Empowering the community to make decisions and to implement, manage and sustain change.

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