The definition of community engagement (CE) – a process of working collaboratively with and through groups of people affiliated by geographical proximity, special interest, or similar situations to address issues that affect them.
Criteria for Community Engagement:
i. Rigorous site-selection procedures to determine whether candidate communities have the capacity to be active participants in the project and the project can be sustained. A simply passive host should be avoided.
ii. Identify the relevant community so that they can be engaged effectively and in a timely manner. A community comprises at least those individuals who share identified risks associated with the proposed or takes form progressively in response to specific aspects of the CE project. The relevant community stakeholders should also be identified. Ideally informed consent with community leaders or other forms of collective community authorization as well as the existence of an adequate infrastructure for public engagement should be presented.
iii. Early initiation of community engagement activities to avoid carrying out CE activities which are based on poorly founded assumptions of relevance to the host community and taking community acceptance for granted. In addition it is to ensure that the community perspectives are sought throughout the early stages of the project. This approach is important for developing appropriate CE activities. This point also allows for the on-going assessment of community needs and the CE approaches. This can be done through a two-way flow of information and views, on-going negotiations and interactions with the community. Therefore, evidence of gathering data on community and stakeholders views regarding the issues being addresses, should be clearly stated.
iv. Collaborations with others – identify and mobilize individuals, groups or agencies either public or private with relevant skills or capabilities to join the project.
v. Shared control by the community – leaders from within the community or among the collaborators should be invited to actively participate in the project.
vi. Review, evaluate and if necessary, modify engagement strategies. This is to provide an on-going platform for incorporating a wide variety of community perspectives into CE project to ensure sustainability