A public institution that facilitates a development process driven by Thailand’s urban poor and rural communities
The Community Organizations Development Institute (CODI) is a Thai Government institution whose mission is to support the strengthening of communities and their organizations – in both urban and rural areas – as key agents of change and as central actors in development which affects their lives and communities. Besides budget from the government which supports many of its ongoing programs, CODI’s chief financial tool is the CODI revolving fund, which provides soft loans to community cooperatives and community networks to undertake a variety of development initiatives they plan and implement themselves. These initiatives include housing, land purchase, livelihood, community enterprise and many others. CODI’s status as a public organization gives it a degree of freedom to more flexibly channel government funds to a development process which is driven by communities themselves.
As such, CODI is an institution which facilitates change by people, at scale. CODI’s focus is not only on alleviating poverty, but on finding ways by which communities can be the key actors in whatever development they determine is needed. Instead of making most of the decisions within the institution, CODI works to create space for communities to work together as managers and implementers of various development initiatives, so that CODI can be a public institution that is jointly-managed with people, as much as possible.
What does CODI do?
- Delivers public funds directly to communities to manage their own development, so they can plan and implement projects which address poverty, housing and other development issues, can be the owners of their own development and can take active part in development processes in their constituencies.
- Supports the development and strengthening of community finance systems. Finance is perhaps the most crucial fuel in a community-driven development process, and CODI has developed many new ways to use loans, grants and subsidies in different situations to intervene, to motivate, to fund different activities, to strengthen people’s own funding systems and to unlock the development energy in poor communities.
- Supports the creation of different kinds of platforms which allow communities to link together, learn from each other, support each other and develop their strength to negotiate and collaborate with other stakeholders, in order to bring about change.
- Acts as a bridge between the formal and informal systems. As a government institution under the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, CODI can provide legal and institutional backup to formalize and legalize the many things community organizations do to improve their lives and communities.
- Acts as a bridge between the people’s process and various government institutions to address various development needs and help link the community process with the various government policies and agencies that can provide them with the resources and support they need – like land, finance and legal support. CODI also acts as a bridge between communities and civil society and academia, as a means of nurturing co-production.
- Helps translate the things communities do into policies: The very concrete projects that communities have developed and implemented (like housing production, welfare, canal-side housing redevelopment and post-disaster rehabilitation) have been promoted as national policies in which communities are the key actors to deliver development goods.
- Supports collaboration and the cultivation of partnership. Resolving problems of poverty that are too large and too complex for any group to resolve alone requires partnership and collaboration. People can’t do it alone, but when they are at the center of the process and work with government system, civil society, academia and other actors, change is possible.
- Develops alternative ways for government to work with the people, at scale. The development of techniques for facilitating a development process which is led by people has been CODI’s greatest challenge and research project from the start, for there are no manuals which tell how to do this, in our top-down world. An important part of this is finding ways to make the organization and the processes it supports as open, as participatory, as collaborative and as horizontal as possible.
- Supports Community Councils as legitimate entities which allow all groups and communities within all wards, districts and provinces to get together and work together with other organizations within their constituencies. The community councils provide an accepted platform which enables the communities and groups on the demand side to work with others on all aspects of local development within those constituencies.