The paper analyses the experience of institutionalising participatory approaches in the design and implementation of slum improvement projects in India, focusing on the case of Calcutta. The authors highlight the excessively compartmentalised structure of the project institutions (strictly divided between Engineering, Health, and Community Development sections) as the most significant obstacle to the effective adoption of participatory approaches. Despite staff enthusiasm for PRA techniques, these were considered useful primarily to extract information rather than for planning. Another limitation was the insufficient attention paid to behaviour and attitudes training. The main conclusion was that for scaling up to be effective, it may be necessary to scale down first, by concentrating on a handful of cases of sustained community action in which participatory approaches played an important role, and using them as learning laboratories.
Institutionalisation of Participatory Approaches Workshop
Institute of Development Studies, Sussex, UK, 16-17 May 1996