The article describes the experiences of Sri Lanka's North Western Province Dry Zone Participatory Development Project (DZP) in transferring participatory approaches from one institutional culture to another. It summarises some of the difficulties which have been encountered while facilitating participatory planning processes in 40 villages. These included raising the expectations of villagers; difficulties encountered by government officers in sticking to their promises; changing the behaviour and attitudes of government officers; and the temptation to make up results of 'participatory planning exercises'. It argues that to understand the constraints the principal differences between the institutional culture of NGOs and GOs have to be taken into account. The paper concludes that the changes required to realise true participation in large-scale government development projects are so fundamental that due time and resources must be provided if the approach is to succeed.
International Institute for Environment and Development