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Positive Deviance: Employing an Assets-Based Approach to Foster Community Agency and Reduce Chronic Malnutrition in Indigenous Guatemala

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Assets-based approaches to community development identify and build on the strengths present within a community rather than introduce standardized solutions for needs that are determined from outside of the community. Thereby, solutions to what communities identify as challenges may be more organic and appropriate to a given context precisely because they are specific to and determined and led by the community. In assessing chronic malnutrition in twelve indigenous communities in the Highlands of Guatemala over six weeks in 2008, the assets-based approach of positive deviance was employed to determine why one community was not experiencing the chronic malnutrition identified in neighboring communities. Factors such as social cohesion with minimal stratification, horizontal decision making, and community agency were identified as key to the health and nutrition of that community. By employing positive deviance in development interventions, assets that provide a community with the means for better nutrition, health, and development can be identified and potentially scaled up to neighboring communities.
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Keywords: ASSETS-BASED DEVELOPMENT; GUATEMALA; MALNUTRITION; POSITIVE DEVIANCE; SOCIAL COHESION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 November 2014

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  • Social Development Issues is a refereed journal of the International Consortium for Social Development (ICSD). It is published three times a year in February, July, and November. It serves as a scholarly forum linking multiple disciplines, nations, and cultures. The journal's purpose is to promote consideration of issues that affect social justice as well as the development and well veing of individuals and their communities. The journal is committed to the advancement of social, cultural, political, and economic theories including pollicy and practice (and their interrelationship) within a global context.
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