Positive deviance: Employing an assets-based approach to foster community agency and reduce chronic malnutrition in indigenous Guatemala
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Kadetz, P. (2014) 'Positive deviance: Employing an assets-based approach to foster community agency and reduce chronic malnutrition in indigenous Guatemala', Social Development Issues, 36(3), pp. 56-72.
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.