Using Participatory Action Research Methodologies for Engaging and Researching with Religious Minorities in Contexts of Intersecting Inequalities
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’.
Accountability is a complex issue in South Africa. The country has high levels of inequality, and marginalised groups – as in many countries – struggle to make themselves heard by those in power. Yet the issue is further complicated by an interacting set of factors, including the legacy of apartheid, gender and religious issues, and the lack of access to those in power.
Through a six-year research project, the Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation (SLF) used a range of technology-enabled participatory processes to unpack this lack of government accountability. This report focuses on four case studies, which examined the lived realities of marginalised groups and the activists that campaign on their behalf: activists against gender-based violence and for community safety; community care workers and health committee members working for public health; informal traders and the informal economy; and traditional medicine, Rastafarian bossie doktors and indigenous rights.
Using a multi-method research process, SLF supported these groups to work together and identify the accountability issues that they felt were important, and then consider how they could raise their voice collectively to those in power and those who shape and implement policy. As well as providing valuable findings, which SLF fed into the policy dialogue, this process also strengthened the capacity of these groups to speak out – not least through the use of different participatory technologies including digital storytelling, filmmaking, PhotoVoice, geospatial mapping and infographics.
This report reflects on the different tools used, considering not just the effectiveness of the outputs generated but also how these tools can empower citizens and bring marginalised groups together. Lastly, the report reflects on SLF’s role as an intermediary organisation, and how this role can influence the path that marginalised groups take in their efforts to make government more responsive to their needs.
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 report came out of the learning and inspiration event held in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania from 26th - 28th May 2014, which was part of the Making All Voices Count programme. It is for participants and others with an interest in technology for transparency and accountability
The main focus of this report is to understand how positive change can happen from the perspectives of people living in greatest poverty and marginalisation and what can be done to promote this change. It is based on findings from participatory research, conducted by the Participate Participatory Research Group (PRG), that was undertaken by grassroots organisations, activists and citizens in 29 countries across the world. The views, stories, and experiences of the participants were collected and shared through diverse mediums including participatory film-making, digital storytelling, public forums, public theatre and art.
The report highlights how the poorest and most marginalised communities' experience of poverty is multidimensional, often characterised by low incomes, insecure livelihoods, limited or no assets, harsh living environments, violence and environmental degradation. These factors combine with multiple and interconnected inequalities, and close down the opportunities that people have to change their situation themselves. Most of all this research showed the depth of insight and intelligence of people who face extremely difficult circumstances and is a call to pay attention to what this ability offers to those who seek to promote development.
The report's authors argue that development should focus on the very poorest and work with them to make the decisions that matter most in their lives. The research shows that development interventions are targeted at those who are easiest to reach. They are often based on strong assumptions about the experiences of the poorest, rather than a real understanding of how they experience poverty and inequality. The results of this research will contribute ongoing international discussions about a new set of poverty reduction and environmental sustainability targets to replace the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015.
This report highlights key discussion points that emerged from a workshop on "Strengthening Participation in Local Governance". Conceptual issues around participation, governance, citizenship and decentralisation are discussed. Country presentations highlight various experiences in strengthening participation in local governance: these include looking at the context (particularly with respect to existing legal frameworks), the dynamics of participation, strategies and approaches that are employed to overcome barriers, and the key lessons and proposed ways forward for future research. Lessons and challenges from previous research as well as a summary of action plans for collaboration and future research are also presented.