In recent years development work has shifted from a top-down approach to a bottom-up approach. While sometimes this is rhetoric, there is also a recognition that participation (and preferably initiation) by the community is essential to an effective project.

This approach is more costly and time-consuming, but is also more cost-effective as it gives much better and longer-lasting results.

Participatory rural appraisal[edit | edit source]

Participatory rural appraisal is a term describing the incorporation of the knowledge and opinions of rural people in the planning and management of development projects and programs. Robert Chambers, a Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies (UK),[1] has written on this topic, and it is described in the World Bank Participation Sourcebook.[2]

The Institute of Development Studies explains that it builds on rapid rural appraisal (RRA),[1][2] and highlights five central additional concepts and three dangers and drawbacks.[1] The five central additional concepts are

  • Empowerment
  • Respect
  • Localization
  • Enjoyment - the emphasis is no longer on being "rapid" but on the process.
  • Inclusiveness

Dangers and drawbacks

  • "Hijacking" - being used to create legitimacy for an external party.
  • Formalism - an abrupt and exploitative approach is common where there is a deadline to meet.
  • Disappointment - when expectations are raised and nothing tangible emerges.

See the Wikipedia article for more information and links.

See also Wikipedia:Participatory rural appraisal

Three caveats[edit | edit source]

Three warnings regarding participation:[3]

  • Participation is not a panacea, and does not suit every circumstance. The mother of a child dying of diarrhea does not want to "participate".
  • Beware of manipulation - conscious or unconscious, e.g. when a "participatory social communicator" has preconceived ideas.
  • Remember the opportunity cost - villagers do not have endless free time, and may be giving up time on productive work in order to participate.

Community power in Turkmenistan[edit | edit source]

In Turkmenistan's Karra Kum desert, one of the themes to emerge from early participatory video work was a strong local desire for electricity to improve people's lifestyles and enable them to stay in the desert. Participatory video is again being used as a tool for documenting the challenges and decision-making processes involved in the community-led installation of solar power within different shepherding villages. The solar panels are neither sold nor given to the communities; instead, villagers decided that each family should exchange one ewe and one female lamb for their solar lighting system - these animals become the collective property of the village and are used as a "community action fund"...[4]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 See the IIDS page Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA).
  2. Participatory Rural Appraisal. Collaborative Decisionmaking: Community-Based Method. (From The World Bank Participation Sourcebook, Appendix I: Methods and Tools.
  3. based on Participatory Communication for Development, 2004, citing White, S.A. (1994). "The concept of participation: transforming rhetoric to reality" in White, S.A. et al (1994) Participatory communication: working for change and development. New Delhi, India: Sage Publications. p.18
  4. from The Communication Initiative's newsletter, Environment & Communication - DB Click, October 31 2006. For more, see Programme Experiences: Solar Power = Community Power - Turkmenistan, 2006

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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