What is democracy? Freedom, equality, participation? Everyone has his or her own definition. Across the world countries have a least the minimum trappings of democracy, but for many this is just the beginning. Following decades of US-backed dictatorships, civil wars and structural adjustment policies in the South, and corporate control, electoral corruption and fraud in the North, representative politics in the Americas is in crisis. Citizens are now choosing to redefine democracy under their own terms: local, direct and participatory. In Brazil, they have installed participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre, in Venezuela President Chavez came to power with the promise of granting direct participation to the people, and all across the Americas social movements and constitutional assemblies are taking authority away from the ruling elites and putting power into the hands of their members and citizens. This DVD features interviews with Eduardo Galeano, Amy Goodman, Emir Sader, Martha Harnecker, Ward Churchill and Leonardo Avritzer as well as cooperative and community members, elected representatives, academics and activists from Brazil, Canada, Venezuela, Argentina, United States, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia and more. It takes us on a journey across the Americas in an attempt to answer the question "What is Democracy?"
Concerted social policies in the field of HABITAT : the case of Social Policy Concerted Action Board in Cordoba, Republic of Argentina
This paper discusses the experience of concerted social policies, with a focus on Argentina. It outlines the various impacts of social policies, the meaning of concerted social policies, and insights and conclusions regarding the issue, drawing on the experience of the Social Policy Concerted Action Board in Cordoba, Argentina. The role of civil society in particular is highlighted.
PRA that supports local development : the experience of developing a Municipal Rural Development Plan in Tombos, Brazil
This article discusses the analytical process of qualitative research, particularly those of a participatory nature. It draws on experiences in Tombos (Minas Gerais, Brazil), where a PRA process was the foundation for elaborating a Municipal Rural Development Plan. A process of 'construction - deconstruction - reconstruction' was used, proving both effective and efficient. First, a synthesis was constructed by some researchers. Then, a Committee with community representatives deconstructed the synthesis through problem analysis. Finally, synthesis and analysis reconstructed the information around strategic issues. This process helped create an analysed consensus, from which action proposals were elaborated.
Field observations have led many people to believe that beneficiary participation in decision making can contribute greatly to the success of development projects. When people influence or control the decisions that affect them, they have a greater stake in the outcome and will work harder to ensure success. But the evidence supporting this reasoning is qualitative so that many practictioners remain skeptical. Three questions need to be addressed: to what degree does participation contribute to project effectiveness? which beneficiary and agency characteristics foster the process? and, if participation does benefit project outcomes, how can it be encouraged through policy and project design? To answer these questions, researchers studied evaluations of 121 completed rural water supply projects in forty-nine developing countries around the world. The results show that beneficiary participation contributes significantly to project effectiveness, even after statistically controlling for the effects of 17 other factors. The basic conclusion of this study is that rural water projects must be fundamentally redesigned in order to reach the one billion rural poor who lack a sustainable water supply. Redesign must encompass a shift from supply-driven planning to demand-responsive, participatory approaches to ensure beneficiary participation, control, and ownership.