I first heard the words “meeting under the mango tree” as a euphemism for having a predictable, easy to access process for enabling community members to raise issues and concerns in a safe and familiar place.  There is no fixed agenda and no one-size-fits-all for these exchanges. With one company we set up drop-in centres in each local village with a designated community officer in attendance everyday. Another made it known that a company person would be available “under the mango tree” for two hours every market day. I am hoping this blog will achieve something similar – the regular, free and open sharing of ideas and experiences. Time will tell how well it works out.

Community Development Archives


Edge 5 Permaculture

Community Development |  6 May 2021

In a first for "Under the Mango Tree", this is a plug for Greg Knibbs and his Edge5 Permaculture practice... 


More linked up early local development thinking

Community Development |  30 September 2020

I posted in March the benefits that result from working in a structured and systematic way. This follow-up is related to the outlook and governance aspects and again comes from Ghana. It came as an of evolution in our thinking, particularly in the areas of livelihood replacement, mitigation vs benefit and social investment linkages to the project life cycle...


Triple Bottom Line - global to local

Community Development |  22 July 2020

I recently had the opportunity to talk to a group of Curtin University students studying for their Master of International Business and Entrepreneurship about triple-bottom-line thinking...


STE(A)M powered education

Community Development |  14 May 2020

Quality Education (SDG4) is a laudable goal but I have struggled for years to find a strong case for company funding of community requests for assistance with education-related activities and projects. I have never bought into the oft-stated rationale for spending time and money on the early education of future generations of potential employees. It just doesn’t stack up for most projects with their relatively short development and operating cycles. The exception might be where the majors (Rio and BHP come to mind) with their 30 to 50-year operating windows have a much stronger argument for inter-generational impact. 


Permaculture powered community development

Community Development |  30 April 2020

I don’t know about you, but when permaculture was suggested to me a technique for community development I had some doubts but having seen Edge5 Permaculture in action I am  now a convert. The Edge5 way uses an integrated approach to design, combining the ecological processes of land, plants, animals and climate into highly productive systems resulting in stronger and healthier communities. The approach is practical and hands-on, encourages peer-to-peer learning, starts at the backdoor with intensive kitchen gardens before building to larger scale strategies for water-harvesting, sustainable farming (crops, trees and animals) and agro-forestry...


Reflections on community development experiences

Community Development |  19 March 2020

This story comes from my early days in Ghana. At the time we were in the pre-final investment decision phase and not having in-house community development skills we chose to work with a local development NGO. We also made the decision to put a strong focus on debunking community misconceptions that the company was the centre of their universe, that we had unlimited access to money and that we had all the answers. We had a very self-centred reason for taking this approach, believing as we did that success for the business was intimately linked to the ability of the local communities to develop and grow and that success would only come if we worked with local people and local government to identify and implement ideas and actions that would ensure that they would both be better off as a result of us operating in their backyard...