Friday, April 20, 2012

Role of Social Workers in Zambia


 This paper explores the relevance of social worker to community development from its inception in social work to the present time. In the same vein, the birth pangs of community development are given due consideration. Also the paper endeavors to proffer novel insight from Zambian perspective as regards to social work and community development. This is done against a back drop of social work professions and relevant citations as regards to the subject under discussion.




Social well being is an economic development, and any government that deems itself as caring will have perennial headaches as it attempts to find appropriate strategies for meeting the needs of its citizens the question of meeting the basic human needs raises a lot of acrimony when its not tackled adequately by social workers and other relevant social welfare arena.

At no other time in recent time history  have the concept of social work and community development being used as effective tools of realizing social  and economic development .its in this dilemma of energetically seeking for the proper intervention that social work profession has found its applicacation  in developmental projects.

According to Ndangwa Noyoo (2000:69) “social work as a helping profession it’s different from any other helping profession in many specific ways. Included in this are its overarching mission, the client system saved, the focus on client system, in situation’ the target of practice, and the complex, of values, knowledge and skills that make up the ethical stance of social work practice.”

Kabaso at work as a Social Worker in Swaziland.
 
In another line of thought Hansen (1999:42) defines social work as an “art of helping people with the aid of appropriate social services that enhance social and economic self reliance of individuals."
Social work as process entails systematic approach of delivering social services which is not a one day therapy that uses human knowledge to save peoples needs. Social work as a helping profession entails that the vulnerable members of the society should be helped to solve their problems they tend to go through. Social work link people with systems that enhance efficient use of resources. When an individual is empowered with knowledge of social skills, an individual is unlikely to be dependent but rather be self dependent.

Community development is used as a discipline in social work, but its lineage is honorable and well established. McPherson (1982:85) defined community development as a movement to try to improve the community considering the participation of the community. Community development is the functional approach to social work. It initiates a people’s directed process that is based on the development of local resources for the achievement of their own perceived needs.

Community development recognizes the necessity of discovering Organization and resources. It can be defined as a process designed to create of the economy and social progress for the community. Its activity participation fullest possible relays on the community initiatives.
When discussing the roles of social workers, it should be clearly stated that there a number of roles that social workers could play in the community development process.

The first role of social workers in community development is the role of explorer. There is always a need for social workers to venture into new social terrains and identify new interventions that would facilitate higher human living standards. To these end social workers horizons have to be broadened both in intellectual as well as social terms. Social workers must not fail to pray to the temptation of compartmental ring communities. Social workers need to develop comfort entering new and strange communities and exploring new ways of dealing with issues such as powerlessness.

Multinussen (1997:43) “social workers role reveals around the issue of being a change Agent. Social workers always concerned with a positive change. Social workers are primarily preoccupied with effective positive change in the light of individuals, families and communities functioning and living conditions. Social workers in community development seek social change as a mean to enhance human well being.” In view of the above, the role of the social worker is mainly seen in identifying people needs and problems in the communities. For example, in case of a community where there are poor road networks, inadequate or shortage of clinics and poor water sanitation. The social worker sees these as a bench mark of positive change. He / she mobilize the community members to priotise needs, plan for effective strategies that will equip community members with self reliance skills that will enhance social and economic development.

In view of the above, example of a community development project can be seen from the picture below on the next page in which one community development worker works with communities in identifying people’s needs,  prioritize, plan and implement Organization objectives in reference to people’s needs

“People are dying like flies in this valley. They are dying from AIDS. It is killing so many people here” explained one young resident of a village in Mambwe District, Eastern Province. Like most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Zambia is struggling in the face of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Across the country, infection rates range from 8 percent to well over 20 percent. Numerous government and NGO programs are attempting to sensitize the public to risks of the disease and to prevention methods and awareness of the causes of transmission are at about 95 percent. However, this epidemic continues to affect communities far beyond illness and death. This is coming into reality as a result of community development workers working in the fields. 
In relation to positive change, another social worker’s role is seen in being a motivator, Latrids (1994:80) write, “Effective positive change in the lives of the community members does not just come with the inception of projects or erection of a particular infrastructure. An added impetus would be the engagement of the community members in whole development process.” To explain Latrids views above it can be said that social workers in community development encourage people to be active players in the development process.  For example, motivation may be stimulated through the arousing of interest of intended goals of projects. A demotivated community cannot play a meaningful role in changing its deplorable life circumstances.

One of the first principles of community development is the need of knowing the community. A social worker starts by asking himself or herself like; it is a land for fishing, mining, industrialist rural, urban community and so forth. The social worker comes to know the beliefs, customs, culture and what people do in that community. So that when it will come to implementation of the services must be in line with people’s interest.

This gives the idea of what people need. What kind of things you are going to be involved. You should win their acceptance. The community must know you.

In another line of thought, Maloney (1994:22) write to say; “Social workers may play a vital role in guiding the development projects by taking, encouraging and facilitating community members.” Social workers role is to guide community development, to initiate new projects by providing information and advice. For example, a social worker might start a women’s group for income generation and interlay lead the group whilst the group develops and identifies its indigenous leadership.

Social welfare is the well being of an individual, family or community. It’s a cross cutting discipline and issues relating to heath, environment and wealth. In community developments, social welfare does not come first, but rather emerges after a social worker organizes resources in the community.

The social worker gets into the community to identify local resources, mobilize groups in the community to the realization that’s, the problem being faced by them is as a result of an oriented approach. Community development recognizes the necessity for discovering new things with the purpose of creating sustainable community that will not be dependent the change agency system or change agent system. Its activity participation and fullest possible relays on the community initiative.

Community development encourages enforcement among members. This carries an addition commutation in that people in their daily lives are able to participate in or endorse the decision making that affects their lives. This becomes extremely important towards the formulation of social policies in that consensus senses as a building block to the implementation process, as all stake holders in the envisage policy are involved. It means that governments do not impose policies from the top, but promulgate them in accordance with people’s needs aspirations. This is linked to the democratic echoes and encourages people to take charge of their destnys.

Another relevance of social profession to community development is in co-operations. Since people are social well beings who value participation in the life of the community, this sense of belonging becomes an important source of well being. It gives enjoyment to life. Community development is concerned with culture. What this poses for community development is, it’s that the process will be inclusive, and the end product will truly sense the intended Beneficiaries. Furthermore, the community development process dimension will enable people to own the policy formulation process.

Social well being is an essential component of national and economic development, and any government that deems itself as caring will have perennial headaches as its attempts to find appropriate strategies for meeting the needs of its citizens. The question of meeting basic human needs raises a lot of alrimany when it’s not tackled adequately by social workers and other relevant social welfare arena.

At no other time in history have the concept of social work and community development being used as effective tools of realizing social and economic development. It’s in this dilemma of energetically seeking for the proper intervention that social work profession has found its application in development projects.

According to Ndangwa Noyoo (2000:69) “social work as a helping profession is different from any other helping professions in many specific ways. Included in this are its overarching mission, the client system saved, and the focus on clients.

Social work’s present challenge in Zambia lies in extricating itself from the colonial legacy, and becoming relevant to the present era of heightened economic, social and spiritual deprivation. The search for relevant practice of social workers in Zambia must be professed in reference to community needs social workers operates in a cultural milieu and needs insights into the deep- seated religion, moral and ideological factor that created social welfare for instance, as well as the political, economical and social realistic that shaped it (Macavov,1993:89).
Pines and manna (1993), reiterate social work aims:
(1) To enhance the problem- solving and coping capacities of people
(2) To link people with systems that provides them with resources,      
(3) To promote the effective and human operation of these systems and,
(4) To contribute to the development and improvement of social policy.
         
Community development in summary is seen as instrumental to the full realizations of social and economic development. The term social work or community development workers could be more effective in countries like Zambian with economic which are expensively a downwards spiral, by emphazing on advocacy and research. Advocacy could be instrument in addressing the structure inequalities that characterize the Zambian society.
       

             BIBILIOGRAPHY

1.    Hassen (1999) Economic reform is hurting the poor? Journal of International development, Chicago, United States of America.

2.    Latrids (1994) Social Policy- Institutional context of social and economical development. Belmont, Brooks, Core publishing inc. USA.
3.    Macarov, D, (1995) Social welfare, London, Thousands wages, New York.
4.    Matrinussen J. PG (1997). Society, state and Market, London, Zed books, New York.
5.    Murtaza N. (1995) The development paradigm in the third world countries, California, Macmillan, USA.
6.    Ndangwa Noyoo (2000) Social Welfare in Zambia, Lusaka, Multimedia, Zambia.

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