This paper describes the process of developing a participatory monitoring and evaluation strategy for a Kenyan youth-based NGO. The iterative nature of the study including the process of narrowing down indicators to measure and methods to monitor/evaluate these is well documented. A discussion on the extent to which the process achieved participation and was empowering for the participants reflects on existing power relationships and cultural context of Kenya and points to the need to create opportunities for youth where they engage with the broader community. Lessons that emerge out of the study focus on the importance of prioritizing monitoring and evaluation, the potential of youth to carry out effective monitoring and evaluation, and the need for researchers to engage respectfully with communities and participants.
Concepts and methods of ‘participation’ are used increasingly to shape policy and deliver services. Such approaches throw new light on complex interactions within and between society and state institutions at all levels. They lead to questions about how different kinds of knowledge and values shape policy choices. What are the societal and political processes through which power operates that inform whose voice is heard and whose is excluded? What is power? Is it about making people act against their best interests; or is it the glue that keeps society together? What are the connections between power and social change? These questions are at the core of research and teaching by the Participation, Power and Social Change Team at IDS, and this IDS Bulletin presents current work on the practice of power in development and the entry points for change. Contributions to this issue, and ways in which power is interrogated, are very varied – despite a shared commitment to exploring its meaning for social change. In categorising power in the way the team has, the intention has not been to offer a comprehensive or exclusive framework for analysis. Rather, a positive spiral between reflection and transformation is constructed, concluding that the role of the action researcher/teacher is to explore with others how power can be harnessed for change, and to work alongside them in tracing and learning from the myriad of micro-level efforts, successes and failures.
With the priority of poverty reduction and with accelerating change in many dimensions, up-to-date and realistically informed perceptions of the lives and conditions of people living in poverty have come to matter more than ever. At the same time, new pressures and incentives increasingly trap decision-makers in headquarters and capital cities, reinforcing earlier (1983) analysis of the attraction of urban 'cores' and the neglect of rural 'peripheries'. These trends make decision-makers' learning about poverty and from people living in poverty rarer and ever more important. One common means has been rural development tourism, the phenomenon of the brief rural visit from an urban centre. In 1983, six biases of such visits - spatial, project, person, seasonal, diplomatic and professional - against seeing, meeting and learning from the poorer people, were identified and described. Security can now be added as a seventh. Much can be done to offset the biases. The solution is to make more visits, not fewer, and to enjoy doing them better.
In addition, new and promising approaches have been pioneered for experiential, direct learning, face-to-face with poor and marginalised people. Examples are: UNHCR's annual participatory assessments by staff; SDC's 'views of the poor' participatory research in Tanzania; and various forms of immersion, most recently those being convened and organised by ActionAid International. In many immersions, outsiders become guests for a few days and nights, and live, experience and learn in a community. The question now is not how an organisation can afford the time and other resources for immersions for its staff. It is how, if it is seriously pro-poor, it can possibly not do so. This paper is a challenge to development actors to practice a responsible pro-poor professionalism; to be pioneers and champions, seizing and making space for themselves and others to offset the biases and traps of headquarters and capital cities; and to have the vision and guts to seek out direct experiential learning and so to be in touch and up-to-date with the realities of the people living in poverty whom they seek to serve.
The recent 'rise of rights' has sparked much critical reflection, one of the key concerns being 'What is different this time'?. Can this emerging focus on rights within development help bring about favourable changes for poor and marginalised people?
This issue of the IDS Bulletin addresses diverse perspectives and questions across a spectrum of current thinking, policy and practice. Why the rights-based approach and why now? Whose rights count? 'Rights' work has evolved from an historical focus on human rights violations and concern for legal protection, but its future depends on direct engagement with civil society causes.
Development needs rights as much as rights need development. Illustrated here are struggles for rights within specific contexts (tenants associations in Kenya; children's organisations in India): the perspective of marginalised groups alters how formal rights are given meaning. Using rights in practice is challenging and filled with contradictions and tensions. The struggle for rights is happening and it is not simply an agenda of the powerful.
What emerges from this IDS Bulletin is a vibrant picture of often diverse meanings and strategies pursued throughout the world. If the current enthusiasm for rights in development can open thinking spaces and result in appropriate action, rather than serving as a one-size-fits-all export, then rights bases approaches are to be welcomed. Moving beyond old debates and recognising that rights must be claimed and realised by real people, the development community can discover what rights will ultimately mean in context and practice.
Table of contents
- Introduction: Developing Rights: Discourse to Context and Practice (pdf), Jethro Pettit and Joanna Wheeler
- 'Why Rights, Why Now? Reflections on the Rise of Rights in International Development Discourse', Andrea Cornwall and Celestine Nyamu-Musembi
- 'Rights-based Approaches and Bilateral Aid Agencies: More Than a Metaphor?', Laure-Hélène Piron
- 'Rights-based Development: Linking Rights and Participation - Challenges in Thinking and Action', Valerie Miller, Lisa VeneKlasen and Cindy Clark
- 'An Actor-oriented Approach to Rights in Development', Celestine Nyamu-Musembi
- 'Rights-based Approaches: Recovering Past Innovations', Valerie Miller, Lisa VeneKlasen and Cindy Clark
- 'Rights and Power: The Challenge for International Development Agencies', Alexandra Hughes, Joanna Wheeler and Rosalnd Eyben
- 'Can a Rights-based Approach Help in Achieving the Millennium Development Goals?', Salil Shetty
- 'Living Rights: Reflections from Women's Movements About Gender and Rights in Practice', Cindy Clark, Molly Reilly and Joanna Wheeler
- 'Small Hands, Big Voices? Children's Participation in Policy Change in India', Emma Williams
- 'Operationalising the Rights Agenda: Participatory Rights Assessment in Peru and Malawi', James Blackburn, Mary Ann Brocklesby, Sheena Crawford and Jeremy Holland
- 'Defining Rights from the Roots: Insights from Council Tenants' Struggles in Mombasa, Kenya', Samuel Musyoki and Celestine Nyamu-Musembi
- 'Rights and Citizenship in Brazil: The Challenges for Civil Society, Almir Pereira Júnior, Jorge Romano and Marta Antunes
- 'Beyond Approaches and Models: Reflections on Rights and Social Movements in Kenya, Haiti and the Philippines', Mwambi Mwasaru
- 'Transforming Rights into Social Practices? The Landless Movement and Land Reform in Brazil', Zander Navarro
This paper is part of the broader series of publications about ælessons for change that look at learning and change in development organisations. Overall the series poses arguments for the importance of reflection on relationships and power in the aid context, document practical experiences of facilitating innovative learning, and stress the need for cultural and procedural change to foster a climate of inquiry and responsiveness. This paper in particular describes the authors' experience of testing and implementing alternative approaches to monitoring and evaluation, and to evaluate institutional relationships. It summarises DFID-Brazil's experience of discussing and defining concepts and principles for working in partnerships. It also reflects on the learning and change that has been stimulated by these discussions in DFID-Brazil, and proposes some lessons for DFID and donor agencies in general about relationships.
This article provides a general overview of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) approach, listing the main international institutions that were involved in the initiation of the approach in 1999 and the main principles underpinning the approach. The article analyses the PRSP experience by looking at some of the main principles to assess the formulation, monitoring and implementation of the PRS processes and contents on the part of civil society. The analysis is based on a review of secondary sources and existing literature. The article concludes by suggesting that PRSPs can be credited for marginal improvements in poverty orientation and opening up policy debate. However PRSPs can also be criticised for not being based on processes that promote country ownership and accountability. The article mentions the links between power dynamics and policy choices, and in turn explores the link with conditionality used by International Financial Institutions. To improve PRSPs, the author argues that PRSPs need to be anchored in national budgetary and parliamentary processes for greater accountability.
The article argues that strategic planning is crucial for tackling poverty, and looks at the anti-poverty strategy and plan of action in Bulgaria. The article first describes poverty in Bulgaria, and how low levels of income and low levels of employment make women particularly vulnerable. The author looks in detail at the anti-poverty strategy and plan of action as strategic planning tools, and argues that the planning processes have to be made fully participatory and reflect the vision of the poor and vulnerable people. To achieve this, the author suggests that NGOs and CSOs have to be supported further through training in strategic thinking to enable efficient and effective participation in planning processes.