Participation in poverty reduction strategies: a synthesis of experience with participatory approaches to policy design, implementation and monitoring
This synthesis offers a review of experiences in applying participatory approaches to macro-level policy formulation, implementation and monitoring in poverty reduction. The participatory experiences are drawn from research initiatives, donors' country strategies, aid coordination processes, policy advocacy campaigns, institutional change processes, budgetary analysis and formulation and citizens' monitoring mechanisms. The review highlights significant challenges that must be overcome in order to establish participatory, sustainable, country-owned poverty reduction strategies.
Based on the author's own experience as head of a bilateral agency country office, the paper tells a story about how the donor community became engaged in a conflict about monitoring the Poverty Reduction Strategy. This experience is used to explore donors' involvement in political processes within aid-recipient countries. Their understanding of the national context and the quality of the relations that donor staff establish in the recipient country only partially explain the nature of their involvement. Because they are sustained over time and are not contingent on the country where a staff member happens to be working for a few years there are two other sets of non local relationships that may be more influential. These are membership of the global development cooperation community, of which the country specific donor community is a sub-set, and the relationships back home to the staff member's own country's history, institutions, values and practices. The interpretation of these sets of relations, and the action resulting from this, are mediated by an individual's own personal history and life experiences. Consciously situating oneself with respect to personal and institutional values and relationships would allow individual staff members in donor agencies to reflect upon and explore taken for granted assumptions about the way the world appears to them. It would help them work more comfortably and sensitively with the ambiguity, paradox and unanticipated outcomes that they encounter on a daily basis in their goal of reducing world poverty. The paper argues that greater reflexivity would help donor staff and their organisations become more skilled at supporting aid recipients in their efforts.
Kenyan civil society perspectives on rights, rights-based approaches to development, and participation
This paper goes beyond conceptual debates to explore country level practice around emergent rightsbased approaches to development, and their relationship with more established practices of participatory development. Drawing from the perspectives of a cross-section of Kenyan civil society groups, the paper examines the extent to which these approaches overlap, and evaluates the prospects for an integrated and sustained approach to civil societyÆs questioning of institutional arrangements that foster unequal relations.|Current trends suggest a gradual closing of the chasm between the practice of participatory community development and the practice of rights advocacy: community development NGOs are taking more seriously the notion of peopleÆs rights and entitlements as the starting point for their work, and the need for greater engagement with macro-level political institutions to build accountability; rights advocacy NGOs are responding to demands for active and meaningful participation of marginalised groups in shaping a rights advocacy agenda that is genuinely rooted in communities; and community-based networks are looking inward to ensure internal legitimacy, inclusiveness and non-discrimination. These trends hold promise for an integrated and sustained approach that is potentially more effective in Kenya's new political climate characterised by stronger demands for accountability at different levels. The paper concludes with suggestions on how these emerging trends can be strengthened.
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.