Local people can generate their own numbers – and the statistics that result are powerful for them and can influence policy. Since the early 1990’s there has been a quiet tide of innovation in generating statistics using participatory methods. Across all sectors from local to national, participatory statistics are being generated in the design, monitoring and evaluation, and impact assessment of development interventions. This book, by describing policy, programme and project research, aims to provide impetus for the adoption and mainstreaming of participatory statistics within international development practice. It lays down the challenge of institutional change that allows a win-win outcome in which statistics are part of an empowering process for local people and a valuable information flow for those open to it in aid agencies and government departments.
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.
Yoland Wadsworth’s proposition is that the act of inquiry is the way by which every living organism and all collective human life goes about continuously learning, improving and changing. This book explores this approach, a basic theory of human understanding and action. By delving into the cyclical processes of acting, observing, questioning, feeling, reflecting, thinking, planning and acting again, the author identifies how new life might be brought to what we do, both professionally and personally. She also emphasises that the evaluative process needs to drive progress towards social justice and human betterment.
This paper introduces the work of the project introduces the work on the project Action Research on Community-Based Planning (CBP), providing both the background to the topic and findings after two years. How community involvement in planning and management can link to decentralised delivery systems has formed the basis of this DFID funded action research project covering Uganda, Zimbabwe, Ghana, and South Africa. The CBP project was developed as a response to two challenges: an analysis of the institutional issues in trying to implement a sustainable livelihoods approach; and a realisation of the limitations of efforts to promote decentralisation, where these concentrated on local government itself, and not also on how local government serves citizens. The paper begins by looking at the challenges of implementing a Sustainable Livelihoods Approach on micro (community) and macro (local government) levels. It goes on to describe the purpose and approach of the action research on community based planning project. An approach was adopted addressing all the focuses of CBP in a manner that is implementable and sustainable using the resources available to local governments and in local communities. The principles underlying this approach to CBP are described together with the main challenges of the approach. The core methodology of the approach involved the use of a variety of PRA (Participatory Rural Appraisal)/PLA (Participatory learning and Action) tools, combined in a three to five day strategic process. In the first year of piloting two million people were covered by the methodology. The paper concludes with a discussion of the challenges of upscaling CBP projects.
Rapid changes are taking place in international development. The past two decades have promoted the ideals of participation and partnership, yet key decisions affecting people's lives continue to be made without sufficient attention to the socio-political realities of the countries in which they live. Embedded working traditions, vested interests and institutional inertia mean that old habits and cultures persist among the development community. On this premise, the authors of this book describe the need to recognise the complex, non-linear nature of development assistance and how bureaucratic procedures and power relations hinder poverty reduction in the new aid environment. The book begins with a conceptual and historical analysis of aid, exposing the challenges and opportunities facing aid professionals today. It argues for greater attention to accountability and the adoption of rights based approaches. In section two, practitioners, policymakers and researchers discuss the realities of power and relationships from their experiences across 16 countries. Their accounts, from government, donors and civil society, expose the highly politicised and dynamic aid environment in which they work. The book then explores ways forward for aid agencies, challenging existing political, institutional and personal ways of working. Breaking the barriers to ensure more inclusive aid will require visionary leadership and a courageous commitment to change. The authors show how translating rhetoric into practice relies on changing the attitudes and behaviours of individual actors. The book aims to present a contribution to the understanding of how development assistance and poverty reduction can be most effectively delivered by the professionals and agencies involved.