Grassroots Organizations (GROs)
Nothing grows from the top down.
We shall organize, and it shall be our organization, not yours. But let us not name the baby before it kicks. 1
The hardest thing is getting people to believe, because the politicians only promise.
Guillermo Voss, president of an Argentine housing cooperative2
Grassroots organizations are also called base groups, people's organizations, or local organizations. However named, there is general agreement that they are locally based groups working to improve and develop their own communities either through communitywide or specialized memberships. Although this chapter focuses on GROs, the broader term local organizations will be used to include both GROs and other kinds of community groups such as burial societies or kinship organizations that are also accountable to members but are not focused on development.
Where do all these groups come from? How long have they existed? How many were originally founded by outsiders?
Although they are part of the independent sector, many GROs evolved from indigenous local governments that functioned in the absence of strong national authority. 3 Some tribal or village organizations were eclipsed but not replaced as more "modern" forms of governance emerged. A historical study of a Peruvian highland community found that the members of local organizations carried out thirty-seven major development projects including