Challenging and changing the big picture: the roles of participatory research in public planning policy
This article examines the guiding ideas and ultimate realities of government-led participatory research in Tanzania and Uganda. It considers the extent to which research results have influenced meso- (e.g. district) and macro- (e.g. national) level planning for poverty reduction and why; the degree to which research processes have contributed to democratisation and citizen empowerment and implications for the future of participatory approaches to policy oriented research. The article reflects over the consequences of recent initiatives from development aid donors to streamline development assistance and improve the performance of sector ministries, leading to unprecedented pressure for poor countries to generate up-to-date, detailed socio-economic data. It looks specifically on how this has affected East Africa. It goes on to give a background to the development and role of Participatory Poverty Assessments (PPAs) in Africa, and looks specifically at the Tanzania PPA (TzPPA), 2002-2003, and the Ugandan PPA Process (UPAP), 1998-2001. It compares the methodological differences of the two projects, where the bad experiences with Community Action Plans (CAPs) in UPAP led TzPPA; and UPAP focussed more on involving as many individual community members as possible while TzPPA only sought large community-wide. Finally an analysis is made of the benefits of participatory approaches in UAPAP and TzPPA on policy and empowerment, and it concludes with the potentials and pitfalls of PPAs.
This paper shares experiences of a participatory land management approach Gestion de Terroirs developed from 1986 by the Burkinabe government. The approach is based on rural community based management, and is multisectoral, multidisciplinary, village based, and flexible. Although the National Programme for Gestion Terroirs (PNGT) was implemented in 1992-1996, Burkina is only now developing a system for local government, which should come into place in 2005. Meanwhile it has a well developed system of legally recognised community structures called Village Committees for Area Management (CVGT). These can receive funds and manage development in their area. The article describes the approach of the PNGT including establishment of and support of the CVGTs, coordination of actors at different levels, promoting decentralisation, and participatory assessment of community issues using MARP (the Accelerated Method for Participatory Research). It presents the results of PNGT which covered 8 provinces and ca. 150000 people with the main investments including: social and economic infrastructure; land management strategies; agricultural support; and forest management. MARP was used to study the impact of the project, including wealth ranking, giving positive response with 73% of beneficiaries estimating improved production and 80% improved food security. There was also improved soil fertility, increased vegetation cover, increased biodiversity, increased yields, better and more community organisation, improved community capacity, and a strengthened community role in development.
Knowledge from the Margins: An Anthology from a Global Network on Participatory Practice and Policy Influence
The Participate initiative involves 18 organisations, who work with diverse marginalised people in over 30 countries, coming together to make their voices count on development policy. This anthology is an account of the activities carried out by the Participatory Research Group (PRG) within the Participate initiative between 2012 and 2014, and also a reflection on the methods and processes created and utilised during that time. It aims to share the insights and lessons learnt to help promote thought and discussion about how to use participatory approaches to influence policy at a variety of levels. These experiences include: applying, adapting and innovating participatory methods to promote the voices of participants in all stages of the research process; creating opportunities and spaces for including the perspectives articulated through the research where possible in the policymaking processes; and embedding participatory approaches in local-to global policymaking processes.
This working paper reflects the findings of the first phase of the REJUVENATE project, which set out to understand and map approaches to integrating children, youth, and community participation in child rights initiatives.
In this paper, we:
- present a user-friendly summary of the existing tradition of substantive children’s participation in social change work;
- share case studies across various sectors and regions of the world;
- highlight ongoing challenges and evidence gaps;
- showcase expert opinions on the inclusion of child rights and, in particular, child/youth-led approaches in project-based work.
Grounded in an understanding of child rights as ‘living rights’, we propose building on the 3Ps of the UNCRC (protection, provision and participation) towards the 3Ss – space, support and system change.
We offer a set of field principles (REJUVENATE) to guide substantively participatory work with children and young people, underpinned by our Ndoro Ndoro model, which refers to intergenerational, community-driven approaches that put children and youth at the centre, while being accountable to them.
We recognise that this paper is far from exhaustive, and we intend it to be a springboard for further work that substantively recognises the importance of children’s participation in work to further child rights, and to enrich and rejuvenate the societies of which children are a part.
Lessons from malaria control activities in urban West Africa using a research-action-capacity building approach
This paper discusses how a community-based approach - Research Action Capacity-building (RAC) - can be valuable for malaria control and more specifically for the dissemination of insecticide treated bednets (ITNs), using the case study of a bednet project in N'Djamena, capital of Chad. A description of the concepts and methods of the RAC approach is given, along with a comparison with the like-minded approach of Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA) - the RAC approach emphasizing that social change is its ultimate goal. The potential of the RAC approach for mobilizing and strengthening community-based activities is discussed. In addition a report on the successes and failures occurring in the case study, of the initial stages of the net selling and impregnation centres is outlined. In conclusion, the authors propose two major points. Firstly, when promoting ITNs, technical, economic and social factors must be targeted. Lastly, collaboration and communication at local, regional and international levels are vital for a project to be sustainable.
This paper introduces the work of the project introduces the work on the project Action Research on Community-Based Planning (CBP), providing both the background to the topic and findings after two years. How community involvement in planning and management can link to decentralised delivery systems has formed the basis of this DFID funded action research project covering Uganda, Zimbabwe, Ghana, and South Africa. The CBP project was developed as a response to two challenges: an analysis of the institutional issues in trying to implement a sustainable livelihoods approach; and a realisation of the limitations of efforts to promote decentralisation, where these concentrated on local government itself, and not also on how local government serves citizens. The paper begins by looking at the challenges of implementing a Sustainable Livelihoods Approach on micro (community) and macro (local government) levels. It goes on to describe the purpose and approach of the action research on community based planning project. An approach was adopted addressing all the focuses of CBP in a manner that is implementable and sustainable using the resources available to local governments and in local communities. The principles underlying this approach to CBP are described together with the main challenges of the approach. The core methodology of the approach involved the use of a variety of PRA (Participatory Rural Appraisal)/PLA (Participatory learning and Action) tools, combined in a three to five day strategic process. In the first year of piloting two million people were covered by the methodology. The paper concludes with a discussion of the challenges of upscaling CBP projects.
This is one of two freely available chapters from the SAGE Handbook of Participatory Research and Inquiry.
The SAGE Handbook presents contemporary, cutting-edge approaches to participatory research and inquiry. It has been designed for the community of researchers, professionals and activists engaged in interventions and action for social transformation, and for readers interested in understanding the state of the art in this domain.
Navigating the Pathways from Exclusion to Accountability: From Understanding Intersecting Inequalities to Building Accountable Relationships
Inclusion of the most marginalised people through addressing discriminatory dynamics is central to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. This research report considers how the intersection of spatial, economic and identity-based factors drive poverty and marginalisation.
It provides insights into how participatory processes with people living in these intersections can contribute to developing accountable relationships between the most excluded groups and duty-bearers. It is based on data, analysis and reflections gathered through collaborative and participatory research in Egypt, Ghana, India, South Africa and Uganda, conducted with Participate partner organisations the Centre for Development Services, Radio Ada, Praxis, Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation and Soroti Catholic Justice and Peace Commission.
In these five settings, partner organisations or ‘translocutors’ have developed participatory action research processes to facilitate exchange between citizens and a range of duty-bearers. They have attempted to open pathways to accountability, through iterative stages of building confidence within the group, deepening contextual understanding, promoting dialogue between citizens and duty-bearers, and developing working alliances between groups and agencies. This report discusses these experiences, and draws out learning and recommendations on how to build inclusive and accountable relationships with marginalised groups through progressive engagement among stakeholders in different spaces and levels of the ‘accountability ecosystem’.
This paper explores how outcome measurement is understood in several SDC local governance programmes, reviewed in a HELVETAS Learning Project. This critical review assesses the extent to which power issues are recognised, understood and tracked within such programmes and suggests ways to enhance this. This includes being clear about what power and empowerment mean in a particular context, how the way power is implicitly understood in local government programmes can lead to a focus only the more formal and visible dimensions of power, and how the complexity of power means that a more clearly articulated and power-aware theory of change underpinning the intervention is needed.
Two of the central challenges in building accountability for marginalised people are how to reach and meaningfully involve the most excluded, and how to establish the kinds of relationships that mean they can achieve, influence and expect government responsiveness.
This report explores how participatory video – an existing methodology for engaging marginalised people – can be adapted and strengthened to inclusively engage citizens and foster responses from decision-makers. It presents four propositions for achieving this.
Proposition 1: Ensure inclusive engagement during group-forming and building.
Proposition 2: Develop shared purpose and group agency through video exploration and sense-making.
Proposition 3: Enable horizontal scaling through community-level videoing action.
Proposition 4: Support the performance of vertical influence through video-mediated communication.
Each of these propositions is discussed in relation to three concepts that are important elements of accountability initiatives: enabling spaces, bonding and bridging communication, and power-shifting. The discussion draws on two long-term participatory video processes at five sites in two countries, Indonesia and Kenya. Many participatory governance and accountability processes – and the theoretical discourses and practical approaches underlying them – do not pay enough attention to the need to shape the relational conditions for accountability for marginalised social groups. This can perpetuate exclusionary dynamics. Extended participatory video processes can mediate relationships, but for them to do so, there is a need to develop more ethical and effective participatory video practice, and for more work on how to foster support from influential decision-makers.
This paper is a case study exploring the process of mobilising citizen action around the right to information. It documents a recent experience with a participatory social audit carried out with marginalized villages in Orissa under a less-than-transparent panchayat (local government). A campaign involving participatory action research, popular education, training and alliances among people's organisations, NGOs, sympathetic government officials and the media, led to exposure and prosecution of corrupt panchayat officials.