How can ordinary citizens - and the organizations and movements with which they engage - make changes in national policies which affect their lives, and the lives of others around them? Under what conditions does citizen action contribute to more responsive states, pro-poor policies and greater social justice? What is needed to overcome setbacks, and to consolidate smaller victories into 'successful' change? These are the questions taken up by this book which brings together eight studies of successful cases of citizen activism in South Africa, Morocco, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Turkey, India and the Philippines.
This article looks at the extent youth participation in four evaluation projects. It presents case study data from the projects, two of which were conducted in highly participatory programmes, and two that had little youth participation but had a participatory evaluation process. The first of the projects took place within The Center for Young Women's Development, a youth-run harm reduction programme that employs young homeless women. The second evaluation project focused on the Town Youth Participatory Strategy, a youth-led drop in centre serving low-income Caucasian youth in rural Ottawa. The next was a coalition of youth programmes that had come together to evaluate the juvenile justice system in San Francisco. The final case study focused on a youth drop-in centre serving street children in an urban city in Canada. The article gives details of all the projects and their effect on the young people, with quotes from the young people themselves.
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.
From clientelism to cooperation: local government, participatory policy, and civic organizing in Porto Algre, Brazil
The paper starts with the observation that it is increasingly accepted that improving the quality of life in impoverished urban areas depends on the capacity of local residents to form social networks and civic organisations. While much of the literature calls for a retreat of the state to accomplish this, some recent studies have shown that state actors can actually promote empowerment of civic organisations. The article looks at an example of state-fostered civic organising: Porto Alegre's "participatory budget", which involves handing over municipal funding decisions on basic capital improvements to neighbourhood-based forums. The analysis looks closely at the Extremo Sul district in terms of mobilising neighbourhood residents, opening closed neighbourhood associations, building co-operative alliances, and transforming participants' perspectives. It is argued that in response to this policy innovation, innumerable neighbourhood organisations have formed, whilst at the same time clientelist forms of neighbourhood action have been discouraged and participation and inter-group collaboration promoted. It is concluded that the first step to state-sponsored civic organising is that the state must be genuinely open to participation and responsive, and that potential participants must become aware of that responsiveness. In Porto Alegre, this did not happen straight away, but there was a demonstration effect that helped mobilise groups, and the targeted issues were found to be meaningful to poor neighbourhood residents. Community organisers also acted as external agents helping unorganised neighbourhoods organise. Networks of reciprocity and trust were built and clientelism discouraged, as alliances built up from year to year and people changed the way they perceived their interests. Against the trend for promoting self-financing and cost recovery in infrastructure investments, top priority went to raising revenue through taxation and administrative streamlining. Further, government spending set off, rather than discouraged, a boom in civic action. It is argued that the policy prioritised a different kind of investment: building new relationships between government personnel and citizens. This new type of governing privileges accessibility, flexibility, and negotiation. It is argued that, overall, there has been a fundamental transformation of political life in Porto Alegre as neighbourhood residents have shifted from powerless cogs in clientelist machines to being active participants in public life.
Participatory impact assessment : Calcutta slum improvement project (February - May 1997). Vol. 1 : main findings report
Main findings of a participatory impact assessment in which people's own perceptions and indicators of change are compared with conventional monitoring indicators. The report also includes information on the impact of the project on the lives of women and children and raises issues of sustainability, equity and degree of participation in activities and outcomes.
This paper examines participatory evaluation in projects of the NGO PLAN International in Senegal. Through brief case studies it compares the viability of PRA evaluations in urban and rural contexts, and reflects upon the extent to which the methods can be used to reach the least advantaged groups in the communities. A number of criteria are used in assessing PRA as an evaluation tool: limited dependence ono external facilitators; replicability; community 'buy-in' to the process; adaptability to local time constraints; broad participation; reliability of data; turn-around time from data collection to use. The author concludes that PRA is problematic in urban settings if a 'community' is assumed in the same way as in rural areas. Some aspects for improvement (e.g. need to be more focused, and to prevent it from being appropriated by certain groups to the exclusion of others) are discussed.
This article is a case study of the author's participatory research with the Annette Lomond garment workers' co-operative in the North East of England. It discusses the relationship between the researcher and the participants, power imbalances, accountability, empowerment, effects of the research project, and presentation of findings. She concludes that the aim of uniting research with action and education is not always possible within one project. This alters the balance of the relationship and the nature of accountability.
Discusses the methods of collecting information during a field-study carried out in Brazil, in the health district of Pau da Lima. It was intended to provide a learning experience for students as well as to explore the local potential for Primary Environmental Care (PEC) and to produce a number of recommendations to local bodies. Possible actors, conditions, means and resources to promote PEC within the Pau da Lima district were investigated. PEC integrates three components: empowering communities, protecting the environment, and meeting needs. The first step was a preliminary identification of present and future potential actors in PEC in the Pau da Lima district. A Rapid Appraisal (RA) was conducted in three squatter communities within the district, focusing on felt problems; interests and priorities in PEC; forms and conditions of community organisation; and instances and conditions of community-based action. Methods used include: review of secondary data, informal disucssions with informants, direct observations, laboratory analysis of water samples collected during the observation walks, life history interviews, focus groups and ranking exercises, semi-structured interviews. While the study found the RA methods useful, it suggested that they may not be sufficient to identify community-based solutions to specific problems. The techniques in "Making Microplans" (Goethert and Hamdi 1988) provide an example of how this action-oriented phase could proceed.