What do Buzzwords do for Development Policy? A critical look at 'participation', 'empowerment' and 'poverty reduction'
In the fast-moving world of development policy, buzzwords play an important part in framing solutions. Today's development orthodoxies are captured in a seductive mix of such words, among which ‘participation’, ‘empowerment’ and ‘poverty reduction’ take a prominent place. This paper takes a critical look at how these three terms have come to be used in international development policy, exploring how different configurations of words frame and justify particular kinds of development interventions.
It analyses their use in the context of two contemporary development policy instruments, the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (prsps) and the Millennium Development Goals (mdgs). We show how words that once spoke of politics and power have come to be reconfigured in the service of today's one-size-fits-all development recipes, spun into an apoliticised form that everyone can agree with. As such, we contend, their use in development policy may offer little hope of the world free of poverty that they are used to evoke.
The benefits of participatory methodologies to develop effective community dialogue in the context of a microbicide trial feasibility study in Mwanza, Tanzania
During a microbicide trial feasibility study among women at high-risk of HIV and sexually transmitted infections in Mwanza, northern Tanzania we used participatory research tools to facilitate open dialogue and partnership between researchers and study participants.
A community-based sexual and reproductive health service was established in ten city wards. Wards were divided into seventy-eight geographical clusters, representatives at cluster and ward level elected and a city-level Community Advisory Committee (CAC) with representatives from each ward established. Workshops and community meetings at ward and city-level were conducted to explore project-related concerns using tools adapted from participatory learning and action techniques such as listing, scoring, ranking, chapatti diagrams and pair-wise matrices.
Key issues identified included beliefs that blood specimens were being sold for witchcraft purposes; worries about specula not being clean; inadequacy of transport allowances; and delays in reporting laboratory test results to participants. To date, the project has responded by inviting members of the CAC to visit the laboratory to observe how blood and genital specimens are prepared; demonstrated the use of the autoclave to community representatives; raised reimbursement levels; introduced HIV rapid testing in the clinic; and streamlined laboratory reporting procedures.
Participatory techniques were instrumental in promoting meaningful dialogue between the research team, study participants and community representatives in Mwanza, allowing researchers and community representatives to gain a shared understanding of project-related priority areas for intervention.
This article explores the characteristics of systemic action research. It looks at the conceptual underpinnings of systemic action research and explores some of the ways in which it differs from (builds on) other forms of action research. It then explores some of the issues and dilemmas faced by systemic action researchers.
Participatory research with cooperatives, which are people-owned businesses, would seem a natural option. However, there is little discussion evident in this area, with risks of research instead bypassing the perspective of members. This article discusses two dairy farmer cooperatives in rural Kenya. It looks at how, even where research is directed and controlled by others (e.g. funders), it can still be undertaken with cooperatives in a participatory way. This is essential to preserving values and principles linked to member participation and decision-making, as well as of self-help and self-responsibility. Participatory approaches also provide interesting insights into the way cooperatives operate.
In this article Jo Guldi asks 'What is a participatory map and when did it emerge?'. She explores participatory democracy's search for new techniques and traces the history of participation going back to it's birth, through to its rise and fall in the West (1969-1978). She goes on to look at participation in social movements in the Global South in the 1970s, and highlights the rise of the walking tour in development economics. Map driven movements for control over cities and land are explored along with participatory maps online. Crucial elements such as power are considered in the context of mapping, and Jo also describes how collaborative maps became an indigenous tool for the Cree of North America when facing legal contestation of their native land.
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.
A Call To Action: Organizational, Professional, and Personal Change For Gender Transformative WASH Programming
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets aimed at improving access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) are also an opportunity for the transformation of gender norms. To facilitate this transformation, this paper makes a call to action for global and national efforts for organi-zational, professional, and personal change.
Several NGOs are leading a process towards a more reflective and transformative approach. This paper presents a number of examples – from headquarters, and others from country offices and research institutes – of the changes under way to support a stronger connection between the ‘outer faces’ of WASH professionals in the sector and the individual, personal inner spaces. The paper concludes with a set of recommendations for personal and organizational change.