Community publishing is an internally driven process of change, rooted in community wisdom, creativity and solidarity. It combines community based research, publishing, education and organising. In community publishing the process is as important as the products, the books and both are used for capacity enhancement and advocacy. Community publishing enables impoverished and traumatised people to develop confidence, articulate their experiences, concerns and aspirations, communicate and use the constructive power of persuasion and organisation to participate effectively in public affairs and engage in local development initiatives. Community publishing has been described by participants as the voice of the previously marginalised commanding attention.


For more information on the concept and methodology of community publishing please refer to the following publications:

- Even the smallest bird can sing from the tallest tree: Community Publishing for Transformation

- Facilitating Civic Education for Transformation- A Community Publishing Practical Guide





Community publishing is based on the following principles:

- Build on what is there, promote local creativity and wisdom;

- Freedom of expression and access to information;

- Work across agencies, sectors, levels;

- Work with whole communities in an integrated way;

- The process is as important as the product; method should re-enforce content;

- Decentralisation and co-ordination of local initiatives;

- Promote constructive communication and gender relationships;

- Be  intergenerational and gender sensitive; and

- Be independent and non-partisan.



An effective process of civic education overcomes the challenges of apathy, polarization, conflicts and fears (see the next section on methods) and begins and ends with communities.





Participatory methodology can overcome the challenges facing civic education and community: apathy, fragmentation, conflict and fear. Apathy is not caused by ignorance, but by negative experiences in the past. Through community based research including listening surveys and community creativity, generative themes become clear, that is the issues about which people feel strongly and which will motivate them to act. These issues are included in learning materials which are both problem posing and confidence building. Civic and community education includes peace-building which includes all actors and organisations in an area, with creativity and a focus on constructive relationships and communication and this overcomes fragmentation, facilitates access, reduces conflict and builds confidence.

Most ACPD books include Facilitators Guides, which enable any committed, intelligent adult or youth to facilitate a participatory workshop or study circles. Apart from creativity, what is unique about ACPD, workshops is that the facilitator guides participants to lead themselves.





The books with facilitation guides and training of interagency facilitators and local training teams make it possible to carry out large scale local or national programmes. Over the years, the community publishing process has been applied to the following programmes:


1.Children and youth protection and participation ACPD has been working on children’s issues since 1995, and in 2010 established children and youth book teams and study circles. Young facilitators have been trained to work with other children and youth. Many books have been produced with young voices and the most important programmes were designing materials and training facilitators for the What about us?  Campaign for children’s rights and participation in Constitution making with an estimated 4000 children, followed by a children’s Constitutitional Awareness Programme based on the 2013 Constitution using the Discovering the Children’s Rights Rainbow materials. These programmes were carried out with the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs with support from UNICEF through DANIDA. Child protection programmes were also important based on the books Singing to the Lions and Caring for us takes care of tomorrow. The current priority is enhancing children and youth participation and leadership, using the book Flourishing Spring. See Leaflet Extract


2. Constitutional reform and constitutional awareness ACPD has been working on constitutional awareness since 1998, based on many publications (see resources). Currently ACPD is carrying out a State-Civil- Society Constitutitional Awareness Project in co-operation with the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. See Leaflet Extract


3. Gender From the late 1980’s until now ACPD has been carrying out programmes on gender and development, initially with the village community workers using Building whole communities. More recently ACPD carried out a programme to reduce gender based violence in 90 wards using the book Connecting and Protecting. From 2016, ACPD began to integrate another dimension of gender in its work, using the book Unlocking Boyhood and Manhood. In 2017, ACPD carried out 80 workshops on gender equality women’s rights and the Constitution, using the book Raising Hopes, Raising lives.


4. Peace-building ACPD has been carrying out peace building programmes since 2003 and has produced five books on peace-building. In the last ten years, the focus has been building constructive communication and relationships across all forms of divide, especially in 90 wards in Mashonaland Central and East.  Peace-building is also integrated in all civic education activities. The multilingual book, Soft Strength, with posters, is frequently reprinted for programmes. ACPD’s 2016 book From Fragmentation to Integration is further developing the skills of peace-building facilitators to work in a fragmented, not just polarized, environment.


5. Civic and Voter Education, Human Rights Education ACPD has been carrying out civic and voter education since 1995 and has co-operated with both the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network. One book was used or adapted in 16 African countries. ACPD carried out a large scale human rights awareness programme in 2007. ACPD has done publications with Facilitator’s Guides for both the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum and in 2017 for Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.


6. Good Local Governance ACPD  has been carrying out programmes of local governance community capacity building since 2000, using a number of publications. The focus is on rural local governance. The current book being used in large scale workshops is No Fruits without Roots - Good Local Governance and the Constitution.


7. Community Development, Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development Since 1986 community publishing has been used in community development programmes, initially with 7000 village community workers and those they work with, and this included workshops on the book Building Wealth in our Villages. In the early years of ACPD research, books (Uprooting Poverty) and training programmes were produced as a contribution to the national Poverty Alleviation Action Plan, and ACPD gained international recognition for this work from UNDP headquarters.

In 2007 a new book on poverty was produced called Reviving our Hopes and used in local governance workshops. In 2015 once again ACPD’s materials on economic issues and resources management were updated for use in wide scale workshops, in the book Our Wealth, Our Future - Building Democracy through participatory resource management and culture. Discussions have been held on a concept to raise awareness on Sustainable Development Goals.




All ACPD’s books and programmes are based on research. ACPD has carried out a number of research studies for Kushanda Preschools and Bernard Van Leer Foundation and UNICEF, on the situation of children and UNDP on poverty as well as local governance.


For the civic education network and African Book Development organisation, ACPD did research on 5000 social groups and their potential nicknamed the Social Capital research, published in the book Regenerating. ACPD’s research on civil society and the State, part of a Civil Society in the New Millenium project of the Commonwealth Foundation, and published as Democratic Governance: Citizen Power!, was regarded as outstanding among all the Commonwealth countries’ research projects. Apart from sponsored research for other organisations ACPD carries out research for each book. Since 2010 ACPD has increasingly involved young people in research.















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