Participatory Self-Review by community action groups and participatory organisations has evolved in the past two decades as a central process in participatory research and action. The objectives of self-review are to encourage learning through self-reflection, to share and adapt the lessons of community groups, and to guide policy reform in support of locally based development efforts. While participatory self-review as a process was not explicitly identified by John Dewey, the premise of this article is that its seeds and roots can be found in his life and work. To make these formative elements available to activists and scholars, this article reconstructs Dewey's insights on interactive thought and action, self and other, experiential learning, community dialogue and organising, communication, and public interest formation, that is, the key issues relevant to processes and practices of community and organisational self review. It identifies and weaves together strands from Dewey's writings and educational action, distilling themes that may help us visualise and appreciate the processes in which we as citizens engage via association, organisation, self-evaluation and self-determination.
Participation, empowerment and Participatory Rural Appraisal: an illustration with two case studies from Ghana
This paper, in examining whether 'participation' is 'empowering', starts by looking at the theoretical context and Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) methodology. It then critically examines two case studies from Ghana, which draw on participatory projects carried out by the Centre for the Development of People. The first concerns the training of local Assembly persons so as to support District Assemblies in implementing decentralised planning and decision-making, while the second is about Participatory Poverty Assessments (PPAs). The two case studies show that 'participation' involved marginalised people in activities that affected their lives - but that the agenda was set from outside, with locals having little control over it. The assumption that participation leads to the empowerment of the marginalised in decision-making on issues that concern them is thus challenged. What participation does allow for is the voice of the marginalised and often excluded to be heard and to have a degree of influence. Participatory practitioners must be aware of whose agenda it is in which they participate or encourage others to be participants. It needs to be noted also that while participation has the potential to challenge patterns of domination, it could also serve as the tool through which existing power relations are entrenched.
This book is part of a process of sharing information and experience, which started when workers at the Oxford Development Education Centre (ODEC) found that they gained valuable insights and lessons from working with colleagues from Southern countries. Together with other organisations and networks that work on community development, an effort was made to cultivate better working relationships and to share lessons with each other. A survey and covering letter was devised, and distributed through various networks. The resulting replies make up this book, which is intended to support a wider process of mutual learning for social change. The general themes and observations that arise from the survey are highlighted. This is followed by detailed survey responses provided by southern grassroots community groups, northern grassroots community groups, groups working on adult education and training, national and/or international groups based in the UK and groups based in other northern countries. The responses cover information about the community activities each group is involved in, the target groups they work with, the international partnerships they have, as well as the successes and challenges faced. There is also a section that summarises research on North/South mutual work and learning. The book concludes with a statistical analysis of the survey results, identifying gaps and future areas for support.
This is the second issue of REFLECTions, the newsletter of the REFLECT (Regenerated Freierian Literacy through Empowering Community Techniques) Coordination Unit in Bangladesh. The REFLECT approach towards adult-literacy combines the theory of Paulo Freire with the methodology of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) techniques. A REFLECT project uses innovative means designed by participants of the project for developing learning materials such as maps, matrices, calendars or diagrams. This is instead of the traditional textbook approach. The newsletter pays homage to Paulo Freire as the beacon for REFLECT. It also describes personal experiences of REFLECT participants and the outcomes of the recent trainers forum.
This overview is about promoting people's participation in the management of natural resources, with a special focus on collaborative management systems. It starts by briefly describing the type and nature of participation used in the process of promoting and supporting collaborative management. The following chapter provides an overview of this process, describing the nature and scope of the participatory process for supporting the collaborative management of natural resources. A description of the actors involved and the environment in which the process occurs is presented, providing generalisations about stakeholder groups encountered, and a summary of circumstances of the physical and social environment that can have a major influence on collaborative management. The overview concludes with a discussion about some of the practical aspects of managing a support programme.
Participation, Learning and Action (PLA) employs a set of techniques, which enables people to generate, share and analyze data about their community in a participatory and capacity-building manner. This paper describes a number of PLA techniques used in a Community Assessment project in Berkshire, England. Various groups in the community participated in order to gain a broad understanding of issues relevant to the community. The report briefly describes the four-week PLA process and gives two case studies. It describes the techniques used which included mapping, ranking, scoring, photography, time use, problem tree, impact diagrams and interview prompts.
It has been recognised that education is a powerful way of fighting poverty, and an empowering process, particularly with regards to the most marginalized groups of people such as poor women and girls. As a result, in Bangladesh, a literacy project is underway, with participants being poor women and girls. It is an ActionAid project, using the Reflect approach, which draws on the Freirean philosophy and facilitates a participatory learning process aiming to empower and promote social change.
This document is a review of the project so far. The first part describes the Reflect process and the perceived strengths of this approach to learning. The bulk of the document then consists of the review outcomes. The project is assessed on its impact on and benefits for participants, in terms of becoming literate, less marginalized and empowered to strive towards social change. It ends with a number of recommendations as to how the project can improve.
Robert Chambers argues that central issues in development have been overlooked and that many past errors have flowed from domination by those with power. Through analysing experience - of past mistakes and myths and of the continuing methodological revolution of PRA - the author points towards solutions. He argues that personal, professional and instiutional change is essential if the realities of the poor are to receive greater recognition.
Counter hegemonic globalisation occurs today in many forms and many settings and deals with a variety of issues from land and labour rights to sexual equality to biodiversity and the environment. This paper examines one urban experiment developed to resist the social exclusion that is an undeniable result of the globalisation process by redistributing city resources in favour of the more vulnerable social groups by means of participatory democracy. The experiment was the participatory budget established in 1989 in the city of Porto Alegre.
The first part of the paper describes basic information and the recent history of the city and its government, contextualising both within the Brazilian political system. The second part details a description of the main features of the institutions and processes of the participatory budget and of participation as well as the criteria and methodology for the distribution of resources. The third part examines the development of the participatory budget. The final part analyses the processes of the participatory budget with regards to its efficiency in redistribution, its accountability and quality of representation in a participatory democracy, the notion of dual powers and competing legitimacies and its relationship with the legislative body that formally approves budget.
Effective poverty reduction requires narrowing the gap between words and actions, making trust and accountability real within and between organisations, at all levels and between all actors. Aid agencies today are shifting emphasis from projects and service delivery to a language of rights and governance. They have introduced new approaches and requirements, stressing partnership and transparency. But embedded traditions and bureaucratic inertia mean old behaviours, procedures and organisational cultures persist. This Policy Briefing looks at how current practices maintain such cultures, and at how they can be changed by achieving consistency between personal behaviour; institutional norms and the new development agenda.
This paper explores the dynamics of the making and shaping of poverty policy. It takes as its starting point a critique of linear versions of policy-making, highlighting the complex interplay of power, knowledge and agency in poverty policy processes. We argue in Section One that the policy process involves a complex configuration of interests between a range of differently positioned actors, whose agency matters, but whose interactions are shaped by power relations. Making sense of contemporary poverty policy requires a closer exploration of the dynamics within and beyond the arenas in which policies are made and shaped. It also requires an understanding of how particular ways of thinking about poverty have gained ascendancy, coming to determine the frame through which poverty is defined, measured and tackled. To do so calls for an historical perspective, one that situates contemporary poverty policy with regard to antecedent visions and versions. Section Two of this paper thus provides an overview of differing narratives on the causes of and solutions to poverty, especially as they have emerged in dominant development discourses. Making sense of participation in the policy process requires that we identify and explore policy spaces in which alternative versions of poverty may be expressed by a variety of voices, and the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion that surround them. In Section Three of this paper, we examine two broad kinds of policy spaces - those that are found in invited forums of participation created from above by powerful institutions and actors, and those more autonomous spaces created from below through more independent forms of social action on poverty related issues. By examining how different narratives of poverty and different actors interact in such spaces - as well as how they may be excluded from them - we can better understand the ways in which power and knowledge frame the policy process.
This book intends to provide participatory development tools that will enable those traditionally excluded - particularly women - from decision-making processes and control over resources to have a voice and to play an active role. The authors contend that the tools described increase the capacities of local communities, NGOs and public sector agencies by integrating applied and analytical methods. To illustrate, examples from field experience in urban, rural and agrarian communities from around the world are described. A brief overview of participatory approaches to development is described, including issues such as power relationships within a community and between local institutions and outsiders. Its explores the opportunities for using multi-media tools to strengthen the impact of other tools in conscious-raising, data-gathering, advocacy, and community decision-making and action.
This book is a collection of selected papers by Anil C. Shah. The book spans the worlds of Government and civil society over a lengthy career working with the poor and marginalised.
It covers a wide range of activities based on direct personal experience and innovation in the field. It contains a mixture of short personal articles and longer, broader and more detailed articles.
The work is presented from a variety of contexts ranging from government administration to NGO's, from community development to joint forest management, from watershed development to participatory irrigation management, and from behaviour, attitudes and training to influencing and changing policy.