Sustainability (and such)

Measure of Participation

Trying to measure the participation of development projects?  Some have recommended lists of more-to-less attributes, such as these suggestions from J. Pretty:

1.  Manipulative:  Participation is a pretence, with ‘people’s’ representatives on official boards but who are unelected  and powerless.

2.  Passive:  People participate afer being told what has been decided or already happened.  Communication is usually via unilateral pronouncements by management or administration without any listening to people’s responses.  Such shared information belongs only to external professionals.

3.  Consultation:  People participate by answering questions or being consulted.  External agents control all analysis by defining the problems and processes for information gathering.  This doesn’t oblige professionals to accept board people’s views, nor does it equalize any decision-making processes.

4.  Material incentives:  Labor, food, cash, or other incentives are contributed in exchange for participation; for instance, farmers may provide labors and fields but not offered a change to learn or experiment.  Thus, people have no stake in sustaining practices or technology when incentives end.

5.  Functional:  External agencies see participation as a means to achieve reduced costs and other program goals.  At the worst, local people may still only be used to serve external goals; at the best, people are only involved in shared decisions after external agents have already decided major issues.

6.  Interactive:  Participation (in developing action plans, formation/strengthening of local institutions, and joint analysis) is viewed as a right, not just the means to achieve project goals.  As groups take control over local decisions and determine how available resources are used, they have a stake in maintaining structures or practices.

7.  Self-mobilization:  This can spread if governments and NGOs provide a  support framework that enables participants to change systems independently.  People network for needed technical advice and resources with external institutions, but retain control over how resources are used.

Pretty, J.  (1995).  Participatory Learning for Sustainable Agriculture.  World Development. 23 (8).

%d bloggers like this: