Sustainable community health strategies in economically diverse communities constitute
the goal of public health. An international perspective is helpful to consider the diverse
cultural beliefs, social systems, and values that make up a community. True transformation
happens from within the community and includes intentional focus on the whole person
and surrounding influences. Asset-based community development (ABCD) is an approach
used to help facilitators focus on community assets rather than only discussing problems
and needs. Evaluate and critique the ABCD approach. Is it realistic to think that poor
communities have existing and unrecognized assets that can lead to economic
opportunities? Discuss two benefits and two challenges when it comes to the effectiveness of
ABCD in mobilizing communities for development.
Critique of Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) Approach
The positivity of the ABCD approach makes it a practical way to address the problems a
community faces. Mostly, the ABCD approach takes the glass-half-full outlook rather than half-
empty. Many conventional approaches to community development begin with a needs analysis,
leading to a half-empty glass. While looking at the needs of a community, one focuses on the
problem and can disregard the strengths. On the other hand, by focusing on the assets and
strengths of a community, stakeholders can develop a very different outlook from that of the
needs-based one. They begin with what enables the community to be robust as all communities
have their strengths and assets. ABC acknowledges that each stakeholder in a community
(including individuals, organizations, and community groups) has skills, experience, and
interests that can help strengthen the community (Mathie, Cameron, & Gibson, 2017). Therefore,
instead of beginning with what is wrong with a community (the half-empty glass), the method
begins with what the community already possesses that makes it durable (the half-full glass).
Essentially, the method is realistic since it does not depend on the external output to develop
sustainability in a community.
As mentioned above, the most significant benefit of the ABCD approach is that it uses
the resources that a community already has to create sustainability. Stakeholders do not have to
ABCD APPROACH 2
rely on external factors to begin the process. The second benefit is that the approach enables a
process of self-improvement within a community. By using the approach, the stakeholders use
their strengths to overcome the weaknesses hence enabling meaningful improvements. The first
challenge of the approach is that it may fail to address the needs of the community. By not
performing a need-analysis, some urgent needs of the community may be overlooked. The
second challenge is the lack of a wide-ranging view of sustainability. The focus on the individual
strengths if the community means the approach may not provide a comprehensive view of what
it takes to achieve sustainability in a community.
ABCD APPROACH 3
Mathie, A., Cameron, J., & Gibson, K. (2017). Asset-based and citizen-led development: Using a
diffracted power lens to analyze the possibilities and challenges. Progress in
Development Studies, 17(1), 1-13.