The paper discusses the use and usefulness of participatory approaches in the work of Save the Children Fund (SCF). It asks how PRA can be used effectively by SCF when the nature of its work means it is unlikely to be involved purely as a facilitator in a community development process. Areas where PRA has proved useful are research, training and awareness, and participatory monitoring and evaluation. It is suggested that the awareness and skills of a growing number of staff members will gradually increase SCFs capacity to use PRA. Participatory methods are also seen as having a useful role to play in turning SCF into a more child-focused agency, and in helping to develop partnerships between SCF, local communities and partner organisations.
This article looks at the issues of cost and sustainability of one of Save the Children's principle interventions in Morocco: the establishment and support of a major residential institution for physically disabled children. The issues that emerged concerned representation of disabled people, a 'hierarchy' of acceptance relating to disabled people within disabled people's organisations themselves, and the limited timeframe to carry out the research than had originally been planned in order to establish trust with people.|The findings were that the expenses spent on the facility could have been extended to a much wider net of beneficiaries if more community based programmes had been developed. This led to much criticism by officials and project participants. However, no easy solutions emerged to address difficulties in the project, given the complexities involved in discrimination against disabled people.
The report is the result of research into the impact of children's participation on development programmes and how such participation can be facilitated. The report also assesses how large international organisations with complex systems and hierarchical management structures can respond sensitively and flexibly to the challenges that will emerge when children are given a voice. It brings together the findings of a literature review of current thinking about children's participation and its evaluation with a field study undertaken in three different countries (Ecuador, India and Kenya). It is also enriched by discussion at a one-day conference in London in November 2003, which was hosted by Plan UK to review findings from the research. The report raises questions about the way that participation is understood by development agencies, arguing that the conceptualisation of children's participation by each organisation will reflect their underlying philosophies. It also focuses on the changes - both positive and negative - that children's participation may bring about, and discusses various issues relating to evaluation. Possible tools and methods are described and consideration is given to the manner in which evaluation activities are conducted. Particular emphasis is also given to ethical issues in relation to evaluation practice. The report considers the challenges for agencies in seeking to develop children's participation further, and the introduction of a participatory approach to evaluation itself.