What is Community Mobilization?
Community mobilization has been defined as a capacity building process through which community individuals, groups, or organizations plan, carry out and evaluate activities on a participatory and sustained basis to improve health and other needs on their own initiative or stimulated by others. Mobilization increases the participatory decision-making processes by bringing diverse stakeholders to the table. It brings those people to the table who may not normally be involved in the decision making process. Mobilization also fosters strong relationships between local governments, businesses and community members.
Mobilization strengthens and enhances the ability of communities to work together to achieve goals that are important for that community. Community mobilization is not something that is done over night, but it is a process that requires time and commitment from all parties involved. The key to successful mobilization efforts is making sure that communities are in the driver’s seat during the process. Mobilization is not something that happens to the community; it is something that the community does. One of the primary goals of mobilization is to make sure mobilization efforts are community driven. This allows a community to solve its problems through its own efforts which is the key to having sustained outcomes within a community.
Why Take a Community Mobilization Approach?
A community mobilization approach is valuable because it fulfills people’s rights to participate and to determine their own future. It enables groups to create local solutions to local problems. These local solutions will be more sustainable than external solutions that do not fit well with the local situation, culture and practices. When communities define the problem, set common goals and work together on their own programs, to achieve the goals, the communities change in ways that will last after the project ends.
Goals of Community Mobilization
Increase community, individual, and group capacity to identify and satisfy needs
Increase community level decision-making
Increase community ownership of programs
Bring additional resources to the community
Build on social networks to spread support, commitment and changes in social norms and behaviors
Key Tasks Involved in Mobilizing Communities
Developing an ongoing dialogue with community members regarding health issues
Creating or strengthening community organizations aimed at improving health
Assisting in creating an environment in which individuals can empower themselves to address their own and their community’s health needs
Promoting community members’ participation in ways that recognize diversity and equity, particularly of those who are most affected by the health issue
Working in partnership with community members in all phases of a project to create locally appropriate responses to health needs
Identifying and supporting the creative potential of communities to develop a variety of strategies and approaches to improve health status
Assisting in linking communities with external resources to aid them in their efforts to improve health
Committing enough time to work with communities or with a partner who works with them
Questions to Ask During the Community Mobilization Process
Planning and implementing successful community mobilization initiatives requires answering some essential questions:
Where is the community now? What resources does it have? What needs or issues are pressing?
Where does the community want to go? What needs and opportunities does the community most want to pursue? When the community gets where it wants to be, how will the community be measurably better?
What strategies and activities will move the community from where it is to where it wants to be? What resources can be mobilized to address these priorities?
How will results be assessed?
Without answers to these strategic questions, community mobilization is likely to involve many activities, but not meet community needs or achieve important results.
The Dos and Don’t for Community Mobilization
Do it all for the community
See professionals as the experts
Deny ethnic and cultural differences of a community
Plan mobilization efforts alone
Focus solely on individual efforts
Do it with the community help
Use community expertise
Understand ethnic and cultural differences of communities and build
on ethnic and cultural diversities
Include others in the planning process
Develop community partnerships
HIV/AIDS & Hepatitis Program's Mobilization Initiatives
Sistas Organizing to Survive
Sistas Organizing to Survive (SOS) is designed to encourage black women to become educated about HIV/AIDS and to be tested. The SOS model was created to encourage communities to expand and strengthen their response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic among black women; encourage individuals to be tested for HIV; increase access to HIV prevention and care services: reduce barriers to HIV testing, prevention, and care by reducing HIV/AIDS stigma; and stimulate the development of a plan to address the disproportionate impact that HIV/AIDS is having on black women.
Latinas Unidas Contra El SIDA
L.U.C.E.S. (Latinas Unidas Contra El SIDA or Latinas United Against AIDS) is designed to address HIV/AIDS among Hispanic/Latina women and to encourage Latina women to get tested. The goals of the initiative are to: raise awareness about the magnitude of HIV/AIDS among Latina women in Florida; offer tools to enable Latina women to educate others about HIV/AIDS and HIV prevention where they live, work, play, learn, and worship; connect Latina women to HIV/AIDS resources; increase the capacity of Latina women to build effective responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in local communities; strengthen Latina women’s ability to take charge and control of their sexual health.
The Man-Up Initiative is designed to stimulate the development and implementation of community action plans aimed at preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS among Florida’s men and their partners. The goals of the initiative are to: encourage men to “man-up” and take responsibility for the consequences of their sexual actions and other HIV risk behaviors; create an enabling environment to support awareness of men’s health issues; engage in a dialogue about men’s health, including awareness of HIV and other STDs and the need for testing; create a coalition of providers to address the health needs of men, including health disparities and access to care; engage in a public awareness campaign addressing men’s health issues to promote holistic health strategies; expand and strengthen responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic among males.
Our faith-based initiative is not a single faith; it is inclusive of all denominations. The goals of the faith initiative are to expand opportunities for faith-based organizations to strengthen their capacity to meet the HIV/AIDS needs of Floridians; and to mobilize congregations and communities to respond to the HIV/AIDS crisis regardless of race, ethnicity, or behavior. Currently, the initiative consist of four components: general HIV/AIDS awareness for churches; AME Church Testing Initiative; The National Church Week of Prayer; and The Southern Christian Leadership Ambassador Project.
Business Responds to AIDS: STOP AIDS: It’s Everyone’s Business
BRTA/LRTA (Business Responds to AIDS/Labor Response to AIDS) programs help businesses and labor organizations respond to AIDS in the workplace and the community. These programs are based on building partnerships among businesses, labor unions, health departments, community- based organizations and government agencies to promote the development of comprehensive HIV/AIDS programs. The BRTA/LRTA program is comprised of five components: workplace policy development, supervisor/labor leader training, employee education, family education and community involvement. STOP AIDS: It’s Everyone’s Business incorporates all five components to engage businesses across the state to join in the fight to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. It is a recognized fact that community business leaders and businesses have tremendous influence within their communities. BRTA/LRTA allows health departments to utilize these relationships in their HIV prevention efforts.
Finding Our Voices: Mobilizing Black Gay Men
Finding Our Voices: Mobilizing Black Gay Men (DVD) is a community mobilization initiative to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS among black gay men. The purpose of the DVD is to raise awareness and to mobilize black gay men to respond to the HIV/AIDS crisis in their communities. The goals are to raise awareness about the ongoing crisis among black gay men, and to promote greater understanding about issues surrounding HIV/AIDS that affect black gay men. The Florida Department of Health, HIV/AIDS & Hepatitis Program encourages individuals, providers and communities to promote strategies for effective interventions to reduce new infections and encourage black gay men to get tested for HIV.
The Shawl Circle
The Shawl Circle is a collaborative effort between the HIV/AIDS & Hepatitis Program and the Department’s Breast and Cervical Cancer program. The project is designed to be culturally appropriate to the American Indian women, while empowering them to become advocates for their communities. The project has an educational component and a testing component for HIV.