Principle 10

Principle 10:

A cyclical process that supports community action and social change

This principle is focused on understanding that CBPR takes time, resources, commitment and energy of the research partnership to ensure ownership and sustainability. This includes considering the projects short-, medium- and long-term goals and the impact it will have after the academic researchers have left the partnership.

Competencies and/or conditions

  • Ability to assess community readiness within six dimensions: (i) community efforts, (ii) community knowledge of the efforts, (iii) leadership, (iv) community climate, (v) community knowledge about the issue and (vi) resources related to the issue(17, 18).
  • Flexibility, along with committed persons to move the partnership and the project forward through both high and low points and to sustain efforts over time.
  • Ongoing investment, commitment, and ownership of community members and decision makers in the research products are essential to sustain the partnership.
  • Sustainability involves maintaining (a) the partnership, (b) its capacity, (c) infrastructure, and (d) research products.
  • Ability to think forward and build sustainable structures before the project ends.
  • Ability to engage stakeholders early on and share explicit plans for sustaining efforts.
  • Ability to access funds and plan for future health issues as a partnership.
  • Capacity to develop a solid foundation within the partnership.
  • Investment in core resources (people, funds, committees, systems).
  • Programme activities are either; incorporated into the structures of the original organization, integrated into another institution or government, or that the programme itself becomes an autonomous agency such as an independent charitable organization.
    • Stakeholder education for sustainability is a key component in facilitating community empowerment within the participatory development process. 
    • Considering sustainability in the design of participatory efforts can enhance the likelihood that the partnership will continue and that research results will be translated into action and institutionalized within the community.
    • Co-develop clearly articulated local government processes that support and facilitate citizen participation in local governance
    • Educative sessions with a key focus on helping citizens to better understand their role in achieving a sustainable society, empowering and elevating diverse and marginalised voices
    • Undertake a reflective workshop to develop a ‘critical consciousness’ about ownership and sustainability 
    • Planning workshops to consider the future of the partnership leadership, which is essential in avoiding stagnation or dissipation in a movement – recognising that the academic partners are likely to retreat, leaving the power in the hands of community researchers
    • Creating structures to nurture and sustain the partnership including developing “group rules” or formal memorandums of understanding to guide the work but also frequent check-ins on partnership process and not merely task-related updates are important to building and maintaining effective collaborations for the work.
    • Jointly define sustainable capacity for the programme at the outset
    • Grassroots community involvement to support long-term sustainability. Community membership and their buy-in are important for the visioning and implementation process and for the long-term desired health and social changes.
    • Practical activities are important so that the whole exercise doesn’t become utopian and hence a no-go in practice – tips include:
    • Linkages to other groups/community 
    • Evidence of sustainable policy advocacy/change 
    • empowerment/social capital 
    • Demonstrated financial/resource independence and local autonomy in decision-making
    • Community partners provision of funds to continue the work as an indicator of the value given to the work by community stakeholders
    • Demonstrated increase in ability to independently undertake policy related change
    • Sustainability plans
    • Assessments of community readiness to take over the project
    • Resource reports detailing external project support
    • Grant/funding applications
    • Advocacy for sustainable organisation, resources and networks

*Please note that some statements are adaptations or direct quotes from the papers listed in the reference section