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Over the past two years, RCPLA members have been quite busy conducting writeshops, and working to expand the membership of the network. The purpose of these writeshops have been to encourage and assist with the documentation of experiences in promoting participatory democracy from different countries.

This series of writeshops is a critical component of RCPLA’s efforts to bring the voices of Southern practitioners to the forefront of the development dialogue. Writeshops have been held in India, Kenya, and Bolivia.

Africa
A writeshop on rights-based approach to development and citizen participation held on 15th -18th February 2005 in Nairobi. The writeshop brought together a cross section of key participants including researchers and practitioners who were the authors of the various case studies to share their experiences and enhance their skills on documentation. Participants were drawn from different NGOs in Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe implementing rights based and citizen participation.

The overall objective of the writeshop was to promote citizen participation and rights based approach to development as a strategy for enhancing good governance and sustainable poverty reduction in Kenya. Specific objectives for the writeshop were to:

  • Create awareness and facilitate sharing of experiences by practitioners and researchers on citizen participation and right based development.
  • Enhance knowledge and skills of practitioners and researchers in documentation, advocacy and implementation of rights based development approaches for governance and poverty reduction.

Abstract of case studies explored during writeshop
View PDF of rights-based approach to development and citizen participation writeshop report.

Asia

RCPLA Asia spearheaded the network’s grassroots documentation initiative, with an International Writeshop on Participatory Democracy that was held in the outskirts of Delhi from April 21-24. The writeshop was specifically focused around grassroots experiences with participatory democracy, in an effort to examine the dynamic nature of democracy and participation. In today’s international community, where neo-colonial versions of democracy tend to be gaining international currency, RCPLA sought to bring an alternate dialogue to the forefront. Therefore, the writeshop presented alternative perspectives and experiences, both historical and contemporary, to the discourse surrounding participatory democracy. The publication seeks to highlight the unique grassroots work of development practitioners, and place these important field experiences within the broader theoretical discussion on participatory democracy.

The writeshop was organized around four sub-themes related to participatory democracy: The Right to Self Rule, Recapturing Historical Governance Traditions, Putting Constitutional Principles into Practice, and Inclusion of Historically Marginalized Groups. In the end, after a few days filled of debates and productive writing, a strong first draft of our publication on participatory democracy has been compiled. We are in the process of assembling an external panel of editors to prepare the document for publication. The publication is scheduled to be complete by the middle of September. In the upcoming months, we will be providing all the network members with additional details regarding the writeshop publication, so that each member can prepare for its distribution throughout their respective regions.

Europe

In July 2004, Participatory Methodologies Forum of Kenya (PAMFORK) and International Institute of Environment and Development (IIED) organized a writing workshop in Nairobi to explore the experiences of civil society organizations in implementing Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs). The writeshop brought together a number of development practitioners representing Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Somalia, and Bolivia. The group passionately shared the ground realities of trying to implement and monitor PRSPs with a people-centred approach. This writeshop captured efforts that have been made to incorporate the rights of the poor into the programs, and ensure that the government policies are accountable to local communities. These experiences were published in Participatory Learning and Action 51 (formerly known as PLA Notes).

Latin America
Most Latin American countries including Bolivia, Brasil, Ecuador and Peru and others have implemented some form of decentralization in the last decade or so. Among these countries Bolivia has been widely touted as model of democratic decentralization, in countries such as Bolivia there is still insufficient knowledge of the impacts (positive and negative), processes and results of participatory local governance. In Latin America, governments, NGOs and international donors continue to fund and promote decentralization and participatory local governance, although they lack the types of information that serve to define how and where to invest funds more effectively as well as how to more effectively promote democracy and citizen participation.

In this context, GNTP held a writeshop on “Experiences with Promoting People’s Participation in Local Governance in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Brazil”, which was aimed ar capturing the rich experiences that practioners in these countries have in this area. GNTP built on its institutional ties and partners in Ecuador, Peru and Brasil in implementating this event.

Writeshop Objectives:

1. To provide space and time for authors to share their experiences engaging in Promoting People’s Participation in Local Governance the implementation, through presentations and group discussion sessions;

2. To review and finalize draft articles through group discussion sessions and bilateral sessions with authors and guest editor;

3. To identify and develop overarching common themes, experiences and lessons that emerge from the experiences;

4. To provide participants with training on writing skills and mutually build a more effective capacity to communicate experiences to international audiences

5. To provide opportunity to network with one another, and bring new South American partners into the Resource Centres on Participatory Learning and Action (RCPLA) network.

6. To produce an RCPLA publication, which would be a compilation of experiences presented in the workshop.

7. To disseminate the experiences of practitioners in the South

8. To provide valuable inputs for RCPLA’s forthcoming event on Communications for Change


The members of the RCPLA Network engage in various collaborative projects whose aims are in keeping with the mission of the Network.

Capitalisation et diffusion d’expériences de développement participatif en Afrique Francophone
(Capitalisation and diffusion of experiences in participatory development in French-speaking Africa)
This is a collaborative project between IIED programme Sahel and FRAO (both based in Senegal).

Promoting Participatory Development
This is a collaborative project between Centre for Development Studies (Egypt) and IIED. Completed in 2003, the special focus of this project was to create links throughout the Arab region on participatory development approaches and experiences. More details of this project can be found on www.neareast.org.

 

 
 
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