The role of community development for health promotion has been problematic, not least because of a lack of trust between government and civil society and the use of top-down pro-grams that have contributed to low community involvement. This paper discusses the much needed reinterpretation of community development for health promotion in the 21st Century. It is grounded in an understanding of its origins, in the role of community-based organisations and in its relationship with capacity building and community empowerment. Health promotion is political and a reinterpretation of community development has to reflect the extent to which communities can be politicized to take more control-over the determinants of their lives and health. In the 21st Century we can substitute the use of the term ‘community development’ with the use of ‘community empowerment’ in both discourse and practice in health promotion.
Keywords: Community development; empowerment; health promotion; capacity building; community-based organisations.