Local people can generate their own numbers – and the statistics that result are powerful for them and can influence policy. Since the early 1990’s there has been a quiet tide of innovation in generating statistics using participatory methods. Across all sectors from local to national, participatory statistics are being generated in the design, monitoring and evaluation, and impact assessment of development interventions. This book, by describing policy, programme and project research, aims to provide impetus for the adoption and mainstreaming of participatory statistics within international development practice. It lays down the challenge of institutional change that allows a win-win outcome in which statistics are part of an empowering process for local people and a valuable information flow for those open to it in aid agencies and government departments.
As change accelerates, development professionals fine themselves more than ever explorers of an unknown and unknowable future. This brings opportunities, excitement and surprises, and demands continuous critical reflection and learning. In the opening part of this book, Robert Chambers reviews his own life, including his early career, participation in the World Bank’s Voice of the Poor project and research and engagement in South Asia on canal irrigation. These experiences led him to examine personal biases and predispositions, and to recognize the pervasive significance of power in forming and framing knowledge.
The book then reflects on a journey of learning, and encourages readers to learn from observation, curiosity, critical feedback, plan and fun. Participatory workshops have been the source of much enjoyable exploration and have evolved in unexpected directions. Participatory rural appraisal (PRA) and community-led total sanitation (CLTS) are two movements that have benefitted from sharing practices and innovations through participatory workshops. Experience-based practical tips for facilitating such workshop are presented – 21 for learning, for managing large groups and for co-generating knowledge to influence policy and practice. Finally, the author argues that the new dual realities – virtual and physical – are getting out of balance, and encourages readers to enjoy exploring through experiential learning in the physical and social world.