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.
Knowledge from the Margins: An Anthology from a Global Network on Participatory Practice and Policy Influence
The Participate initiative involves 18 organisations, who work with diverse marginalised people in over 30 countries, coming together to make their voices count on development policy. This anthology is an account of the activities carried out by the Participatory Research Group (PRG) within the Participate initiative between 2012 and 2014, and also a reflection on the methods and processes created and utilised during that time. It aims to share the insights and lessons learnt to help promote thought and discussion about how to use participatory approaches to influence policy at a variety of levels. These experiences include: applying, adapting and innovating participatory methods to promote the voices of participants in all stages of the research process; creating opportunities and spaces for including the perspectives articulated through the research where possible in the policymaking processes; and embedding participatory approaches in local-to global policymaking processes.
This author reflects on the rising popularity of mobile telephony for development purposes. Across the world, the mobile phone is becoming a more accessible, affordable and convenient means of communication than the Internet and computers. Particularly in Africa, as the cost of services and handsets continue to reduce, mobile phones are increasingly becoming the preferred tool for accessing and sharing information. As the impacts of this new ôrevolutionö are starting to be assessed, the author argues that mobile phones have the potential to become the first universally accessible information communications technology.
This article is extracted from a report outlining the experiences of a partnership between the 'People's Dialogue', a national network linking representatives from illegal and informal settlements in South Africa, and a group of three organisations in India. These are SPARC, an NGO working broadly in the area of housing and community development; the National Slum Dwellers Federation; and Mahila Milan, a federation of women's collectives. The article describes several of the participatory methods and techniques which are used in community-based shelter training programmes, and explains why the training process is important to community development. It argues that experiential learning is a more useful approach than those offered by conventional training.