Community Based Organizations (CBOs)

Community Based Organizations (CBOs)

Community based organizations (CBO’s) are nonprofit groups that work at a local level to improve life for residents. The focus is to build equality across society in all streams – health care, environment, quality of education, access to technology, access to spaces and information for the disabled, to name but a few. The inference is that the communities represented by the CBO’s are typically at a disadvantage. CBO’s are typically, and almost necessarily, staffed by local members – community members who experience first hand the needs within their neighborhoods. Besides being connected geographically, the only link between staff members and their interests is often the desire and willingness to help. Occupational skill sets and experience are greatly diverse.


The tightrope upon which stability balances in this type of organization is being stretched taut, as the role of the CBO is extended to new lengths. Governments are increasingly delegating responsibility to CBO’s and relying on them to gather local concerns, develop, plan, and help deliver solutions. CBO’s are storehouses, gatekeepers, of local information obviously valuable for their own purposes, but this data is also useful to other organizations and government agencies. The role of CBO’s is becoming knowledge management – to compile, sort, store and retrieve local data. Technology is increasingly becoming more important to this function, to manage daily business operations, but also to develop innovative solutions, given restrictive budgets, limited personnel available, and new demands for services and information. Technology is being used to bring in the voice of the community members, through public participation and input. Applications include mapping of community landmarks and services by locals, providing environmental baseline and change measurements, and identifying concerns common throughout the community.

Work conducted by CBO’s generally falls into the themes of human services, natural environment conservation or restoration, and urban environment safety and revitalization. Examples include:


  • neighborhood revitalization
  • affordable housing
  • food security
  • accessible transportation
  • senior citizens associations
  • environmental protection/conservation
  • community sustainability
  • humanitarian/disaster response
  • medical relief funds
  • youth homes and centers


Community based organizations (CBO’s) use technology for managing daily business operations and administrative functions, but also require specific technology for mission-critical programs. Neighborhood or geographic information systems (NIS or GIS) are emerging technologies in the nonprofit sector generating custom solutions for CBO’s.

The value of using this technology for CBO’s lies in:


  • the capacity for efficient data management,
  • increased information that can be extracted from already collected data,
  • the ease in sharing data and incorporating other similarly referenced data (to generate additional information),
  • the sophisticated analysis and presentation it affords, which is critical in securing further support and funds for the organization, and
  • allowing for active participation and collaboration with community members.




Important CBO’s working in india



Self Employed Womens Association is a membership-based community organization which has been working for the economic development of poor women over the last 25 years. Work is focused on local income and employment generation needs. SEWA identifies local women leaders and links up poor women by promoting people’s organizations. This enhances the access of poor women to urban resources, policies and programs. SEWA also builds capacity of CBOs through training, organizing support services, savings, credit, and policy development.

Mahila Housing SEWA Trust (MHT) evolved as a subsidiary organization of SEWA in order to build further capacity to meet the increasing need for housing-related services. The main objectives of MHT are to improve the housing and infrastructure conditions of SEWA members, create improved access to housing finance, legal and technical assistance and to influence housing policies so that they may be more effective in reaching the poor, informal sector community. MHT has developed a special tool called ‘Housing Clinics’, held for the community, which facilitate easier access to housing finance and social security schemes, raise awareness about housingrelated schemes and initiate participatory capacity-building within the community.

Foundation for public interest (FPI)

Foundation for Public Interest (FPI) has dual experience in small towns such as Idar and large cities such as Ahmedabad. Linking up of CBOs with the state and city governments is FPI’s main focus along with the joint CBO-NGOgovernment policy formulation.


CHETNA imparts training and develops training materials for CBOs for health and education activities. It focuses on coordination between CBOs and the government and sensitizes CBOs to local urban issues, particularly health, education and women. CHETNA also advocates simplification of policies which affect women and their economic status.




SAATH has formed CBOs in several Ahmedabad slums. It concentrates entry on youth development and focuses on the creation of social awareness. SAATH supports activities for savings and credit, and disseminates information to communities.

Despite the above, the AMC has been successfully working with the CBOs involved in Parivartan and is planning to involve more CBOs in future urban management programs.


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