This article provides a summary of the major challenges currently facing PRA, as well as the changes implied by some of these challenges. The challenges are considered at six different levels, namely the individual, community, organisational, project and programme, donor and policy levels. The challenges identified are drawn from the literature on PRA, as well as from a recent series of workshops held by the author with the staff of six NGOs that are promoting PRA in South Asia. The article concludes by attributing these challenges to five cross-cutting factors: differences in power, culture, knowledge, money and time.
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.
Navigating the Pathways from Exclusion to Accountability: From Understanding Intersecting Inequalities to Building Accountable Relationships
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’.
Participatory methods are frequently extremely good at gathering huge amounts of information, but are often less helpful with the question of how to deal with the information. This article relates some methods that were used to deal with this issue in India, by SPEECH (Society for People's Education and Economic Change), a small field-based NGO, in examining sustainable agriculture. It describes a simplified example of the process, which includes narrowing down the information, interpreting the information, as well as making it relevant for a policy audience. Also crucial are explicit plans for an iterative process of discussion and feedback/ review of the emerging results, in order to validate the research results.
Public advocacy is the bandwagon that everyone's clambering onto: but not people know what public advocacy really is
This paper discusses the concept and practice of public advocacy. It describes the various practices of public advocacy, what advocacy involves, its challenges, and offers a brief look at public advocacy in India. It argues that public advocacy, rather than being a mere fashionable term, should signify a set of planned, proactive and organised actions to address issues of injustice, marginalisation and rights abuse in a more effective and efficient manner. To do so effectively, existing power relations have to be shifted in favour of the marginalised.
This paper discusses community exchange programmes as a powerful mechanism for increasing the capacity of community organisations to participate in urban development. By enabling communities to share and explore local knowledge created through livelihood struggles, a powerful process is triggered, whereby community exchanges transform development. Through a cumulative process of learning, sharing and collective action, strong sustained and mobilised networks of communities emerge. Central to this has been the sharing of experiences between communities, first at very local levels, then in the city, then nationally and internationally. The development of this methodology by the National Slum Dwellers Association, SPARC (an NGO) and Mahila Milan (a federation of women's cooperatives) in India is described. Exchanges are located within a broader approach to community learning and people's empowerment. Benefits of the exchange process are examined, and the paper reflects on why exchanges are an effective methodology for supporting a process of people-centred development. The necessary conditions for the exchange process to be fully effective are reviewed, which consequently point to the distinct characteristics of the exchange process vis-Ó-vis other participation methodology. It concludes by drawing together some of the wider implications of this approach.
Community to community exchanges, which enable poor people to plan, control and negotiate their own development strategies, are the focus of this paper, particularly in the context of squatters/slum dwellers. These exchanges, which spread to international exchanges amongst the urban poor, have birthed a people's movement of global proportions. The paper begins by summarising the urban context in which these organisations emerged, and the scale and nature of the development challenge they face. The emergence of Mahila Milan - a network of women's savings collectives formed by women pavement dwellers in India - is described as a precursor of the initiative, while the need for new models of urban development led to a search for ways of enhancing community learning and hence, exchanges. The ways in which the network can support its members through international exchanges are identified and discussed. A concluding section considers some of the wider implications of the work of Shack/ Slum Dwellers International for people-centred development
This book brings together writings on the discourses, politics and practice of participation in development. It explores the conceptual and methodological dimensions of participatory research and the politics and practice of participation in development. It brings together classic and contemporary writings from a literature that spans a century and in doing so offers a unique perspective on the possibilities and dilemmas that face those seeking to empower people affected by development projects, programmes and policies.
This report is about innovative ways of strengthening local governance in India. Drawing from various case studies, the conceptual underpinnings of participation in local governance are highlighted. In particular, the report explores the potential of community-based indicators and social auditing techniques to help India to work from below. It highlights techniques that enhance local governance through participation, while examining where techniques work in encouraging participative local governance and why. The authors recognise a huge 'scaling-up' challenge and acknowledge the need for robust guidelines to help new practitioners choose and use appropriate participatory techniques that might play a part in changing governance in India.