SDN believes that communities that are knowledgeable, confident, cohesive, inclusive, and organised can become agents of change. In light of this theory of change, empowerment is a systematic process of building capabilities and assets at the individual and community level. Empowered individuals and communities become able to participate in decision-making in order to uphold their basic social, political, economic and environmental rights.
Over the past decade there have been many attempts in the Niger Delta to empower communities to become change agents, with the use of different empowerment approaches. Yet, to date there has been no comprehensive comparative analysis of what approaches can have sustainable impact in the context of the Niger Delta.
Our work is based on solid theory. Our Community Empowerment model forms the theoretical backbone of our work. Because only empowered communities can drive real change
SDN has now made significant and encouraging progress in the field of community empowerment. Nevertheless, our main challenge, like for many development practitioners, remains to deepen the understanding of the concept of empowerment, recognize its complexities, strengths and limitations and to assess whether or not empowerment has taken place.
Facilitation from a rights based perspective results in communities and civil society groups gaining the tools they need to not only become active agents of change in their communities and region, but also provides them with a firm foundation to demand that their rights are upheld, government and oil companies are responsive to their needs and that they are seen as key partners in their own development.