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Best Practice in the Participatory
Approach to Delivery of Social Services

Edited and designed by
ECA Publications Cluster,
August 2004

Over the last decade, as we have been witnessing an extraordinary expansion of democratic reforms across Africa, awareness of the importance of people participation and good governance have been growing, culminating in a continent-wide consensus on the need for more open, transparent and accountable political and economic systems. How do ordinary people, especially poor people, affect the social policies that in turn affect their well-being? What should be the role of citizen participation in social policy formulation and implementation in this era of globalization? How can government institutions become more accountable and more responsive to the demands of their citizens? Illustrated by international experience across the developing world whilst maintaining the overall focus on the African context, these are some of the critical questions to be addressed in this publication. To read more ...

Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation in China

Edited by
Ronnie Vernooy,
Sun Qiu,
and Xu Jianchu.

The new and powerful methodology of participatory monitoring and evaluation (PM&E) is gaining wide use amongst international development agencies and research institutions around the world. This book is the first to reflect upon the introduction, implementation, and assessment of a PM&E training program. It documents a PM&E training process in Yunnan and Guizhou provinces, China, illustrating how PM&E can strengthen the learning and accountability of research teams and, consequently, the effectiveness of their research work. Using concrete examples, this book shows that it is not only what is being assessed that matters, but also who is doing the assessment and for whom the assessments are intended. To read more ...

Participatory Learning and Action Notes Issue 61:
Tales of Shit: Community-Led Total Sanitation in Africa

Guest editors:
Petra Bongartz,
Samuel Musembi Musyoki,
Angela Milligan, and
Holly Ashley.

Where do you shit? In developing countries, the answer may determine whether you live or die. Around 2.6 billion people defecate in the open. The consequences are dire: shit carries disease and is a major killer. Recently, a radical new participatory approach called Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) has encouraged millions of people to look at, talk about and tackle the problems caused by open defecation. Communities analyze their hygiene habits and practices and mobilize to take collective action to totally sanitize their environments. Following its development and spread in Asia, CLTS is now being piloted in Africa, and this special issue of PLA Notes draws on this growing body of experience.

The new and powerful methodology of participatory monitoring and evaluation (PM&E) is gaining wide use amongst international development agencies and research institutions around the world. This book is the first to reflect upon the introduction, implementation, and assessment of a PM&E training program. It documents a PM&E training process in Yunnan and Guizhou provinces, China, illustrating how PM&E can strengthen the learning and accountability of research teams and, consequently, the effectiveness of their research work. Using concrete examples, this book shows that it is not only what is being assessed that matters, but also who is doing the assessment and for whom the assessments are intended. To read more ...

Participatory Learning and Action (PLA)
Community-based adaptation and mitigation to climate change

For readers in the Middle East and North Africa, the PLA note issue # 60 is now available online in Arabic language. This special issue of Participatory Learning and Action focuses on recent approaches to climate change adaptation which are community-based and participatory, building on the priorities, knowledge, and capacities of local people. It discusses how community-based approaches to climate change have emerged, and the similarities and differences between CBA and other participatory development and disaster risk reduction approaches. It highlights innovative participatory methods which are developing to help communities analyze the causes and effects of climate change, integrate scientific and community knowledge of climate change, and plan adaptation measures. Whilst CBA is a relatively new field, some lessons and challenges are beginning to emerge, including how to integrate disaster risk reduction, livelihoods and climate change adaptation work, climate change knowledge gaps, issues around the type and quality of participation, and the need for policies and institutions that support CBA. To read more ...

Deepening Participation for Social Change Cases from Africa and Asia
RCPLA April 2010

This publication presents conceptual reflections on participation in development. It is divided into two parts: the first part offers a brief introduction about participation; the different participatory approaches; how participation could be integrated in the different stages of the project lifecycle; and key challenges to the practice of participatory approaches. The second part provides case studies from Africa, Asia and the Middle East about participatory practices in community development projects. The authors of these case studies bring together and analyze their experiences of project management, the different cycles their projects went through, institutional learning and change that respond to the application of participatory projects. They show that participation is a complex and lengthy process. It involves extensive communication and deliberations with the various stakeholders and beneficiaries involved. It is a demanding job, but its outcome is always rewarding in improving the well-being of the beneficiaries, enhancing their skills, capacities and empowering them. Participatory approaches still have an unexploited potential and should be put in practice to reach effective development. To read more ...

Participatory Change: An Integrative Approach to Community Practice

This paper outlines a community practice methodology that signals a confluence of three practice approaches that have rarely been integrated: community organizing, popular education and participatory development. It begins by providing an overview of these three practice approaches, discusses their strengths and limitations and finally provides an overview of participatory change as a community practice approach and an introduction to the core values, attitudes and behaviors that guide the use of the methodology. To read more ...

Participatory Approaches to Research on Poverty

This study focuses on the participation of people with direct experience of poverty in research and inquiry into poverty,. It identifies what 'participatory' means in practice, focusing on guiding principles rather than specific techniques. It also examines the connections with other recent trends in research, including debates about research ethics, emancipatory research and “user involvement”. To read more ...


The Ten Seed Technique

The ten seed technique is a modified PLA tool. It was introduced after a lot of modification and experimentation as a tool that can be used to carry out several of the Participatory Learning and Action exercises. It is useful in conducting research as a way of identifying the priorities/situational realities of marginalized and less educated people relating to health, land use etc. However, just like most participatory tools, it can be adapted from a research to a planning tool. It is also practical in gathering qualitative information on various issues, especially related to the perception of the community and the way people see themselves in relation to others.


Participatory Learning & Action

Participatory Learning and Action is the world's leading series on participatory learning and action approaches and methods. It provides a forum for all those engaged in participatory work – community workers, activists and researchers – to share their experiences, conceptual reflections and methodological innovations with others. - It is published three times a year in April, August and December.

The PLA encourages practitioners of participatory methodologies from around the world to share their field experiences together. Most issues of Participatory Learning and Action have a special theme section, as well as a selection of general articles and regular features. Special issues draw on the expertise of guest editors to provide up-to-the minute accounts of the development and use of participatory methods in specific fields. Subscriptions are free to individuals and organisations from the South and to community/voluntary groups from the North with limited or no funding for resources. Also all back issues and current ones are downloadable for free.


Beyond Participatory Tools

This field guide is primarily intended for development facilitators who work directly with communities. It seeks to provide participatory development ideas and suggestions for a development worker to consider using when working with communities. The main focus of this guide is to show how and why to use the participatory concepts, tools & techniques in the development work.


Moving Out of Extreme Hunger in Kenya

This is a timely publication coming at a time when the world attention is focused on poverty. It targets development partners, policy makers and planners that hopefully will find it useful in achieving the Millennium Development Goal. It outlines the findings of the hunger survey conducted in six districts in 2004 and input from the dissemination workshop that was held in 2006. It also presents an analysis of key findings emerging from the application of participatory research tools as described by community members affected by hunger. The publication further highlights major lessons learned and recommendations.


Institutionalising Rights in Development
through Citizen Participation

Practitioners, activists and researchers working with communities are a repository of knowledge that can be tapped for promoting sustainable and equitable development. The lessons and experiences from practitioners’ and communities’ point of view are rarely shared and good practices scaled up for wider use. This result the lack of documentations of the wealth of development knowledge that can be used to improve the methods, processes and impact of development interventions and thereby lead to sustainable poverty alleviation. This publication bridges the gap between macro-and micro-level understanding and use of Rights-Based Approach (RBA). It gives a highlight on the concepts of rights and citizen participation in development and methods for case study development and writing. Also it includes 18 case studies on right and citizen participation and draws a conclusion from the lessons emerging from these cases.


Guidelines on Participatory Development in Kenya:
Critical Reflections on Training, Policy and Scaling Up

Edited By:Eliud Wakwabubi, Hudson Shiverenje

Participation in development is premised on the understanding that people cannot be developed, but rather can only develop themselves. The role of development practitioners as change agents is basically that of creating an enabling environment to facilitate development by the people themselves by employing various strategies including training and facilitation, policy engagement and scaling up of development. This publication come at a time when Kenya is in pursuit of an alternative development agenda on participation aiming to assist practitioners address various challenges of development including facilitating and supporting participation of various actors in development, redefining bureaucracies to ensure that their outcomes facilitate rather than inhibit participation and transforming roles, rights and responsibilities among development actors.

Our World Our Voice Our Media: Community Experiences and Skills

It is a tool kit for development practitioners and others interested in communicating to bring about social, political or economic change. It attempts to articulate the role of democratizing the media in a contemporary context by exploring issues such as advocacy, media law, piracy, etc. The kit also provides a practical tool of how to utilize alternatives participatory forms of communications as a means to achieve the democratization of media spaces. Through a number of case studies from Asia, South Africa and the MENA Region the kit illustrates how to execute community radio, producing forum theatre, producing participatory video, etc to ensure the resource kit’s relevance to a wide range of communities; it was arranged in a manner to allow modification according to the cultural contexts. This communication for change (C4C) tool kit will assist community members in creatively putting fourth their perspectives in a strategic, politically engaging manner.



Participatory Learning and Action, A Trainer's Guide

Designed for both experienced and new trainers who have an interest in training others in the use of participatory methods, whether they are researchers, practitioners, policy-makers, villagers or trainers. The guide: provides a comprehensive background to the principles of adult learning; focuses on the facilitation skills necessary for effective training; describes group dynamics and how to build interdisciplinary teams; summarises the principles of participatory learning and action; describes in detail the process of training, both in the workshop and in the field; suggests how to organise workshops, from laying the groundwork to post-training evaluation; details 101 interactive training games and exercises.


Nepal Participatory Development Magazines

NEPAN publishes a quarterly Participatory Development Magazine, Sahabhagita (Participation), in Nepali, and a yearly English Participatory Development Magazine, Participation. The magazines are a forum of debate and both are open to contributions from participatory approach practitioners, members as well as non-members.


Participatory Workshops
A Sourcebook of 21 Sets of Ideas and Activities

Drawing on a rich variety of experiences and ideas from innovators in many countries and on the author's own efforts and errors, this publication is written in a spirit of critical reflection and serious fun.

Presenting 21 sets of ideas, activities and tips, this sourcebook covers topics such as getting started, seating arrangements, forming groups, managing large numbers, helping each other learn, analysis and feedback, dealing with dominators, evaluation and ending, coping with horrors, and common mistakes.

Participatory Approaches to Attacking Extreme Poverty :
Cases Studies Led by the International Movement ATD Fourth World

This book deals with questions such as: What does it mean to live in poverty, and especially in extreme poverty? How can the very poor be reached through development projects? How can we assess whether projects succeed in changing the life of the poorest? In answering these questions, the emphasis is on exploring what type of knowledge is needed to fight extreme poverty. Case studies are provided on participatory approaches to attacking extreme poverty in both developing countries (Madagascar and Tanzania, as well as Bolivia, Guatemala and Peru) and developed countries (the United States and Belgium).

Case Study
A Participatory Approach to Sustainable Development in Cervera - Spain
Lessons for Future Energy Planning

This case study describes what has led Cervera to sustainable development in a rural city far from large metropolitan areas, and the development of a strategy that sets out a vision for the city as a sustainable community. Cervera makes an interesting case study for seeing how sustainability is handled in a rural town, where the problems, potentials and available resources are clearly different from those in an urban environment. It is also of interest as a pilot scheme for drawing up an environmental action plan on a rural district level, based on a participatory process.

PLA Notes in Arabic

For readers in the Middle East and North Africa, the PLA note issue # 57 entitled “Immersions: learning about poverty face-to-face” Guest-edited by Izzy Birch and Raffaella Catani with Robert Chambers is now available online in Arabic language. The theme for this special issue centers on experiences of face-to-face learning, often referred to as immersions - opportunities for development professionals to spend a period of time living with and learning from a poor family. This issue is a timely reflection of an emerging trend in development practice, drawing together the richness of immersion experience.

Participatory Methods in the Analysis of Poverty a Critical Review
Caterina Ruggeri Laderchi
January 2001

Recent years have witnessed a great interest in participatory methods as instruments for poverty analysis. The insights which these participatory approaches have provided concerning the experience of poverty have contributed to the establishment of a mainstream multi-dimensional definition of poverty. This paper reviews and analyzes the literature on participatory methods in the analysis of poverty: how they have emerged, how they have been adopted in this context and the challenges they create. To read more..

Effectiveness of Participatory Approach
Graham Walter
December 2004

A framework for mainstreaming participatory development processes into Asian Development Bank (ADB) operations was introduced in 1996. It was prepared in response to recommendations in the Report of the Task Force on Improving Project Quality, which emphasized the need for ADB to do more to enhance the sense of ownership among beneficiaries .This special evaluation study (SES) was initiated in view of the consequent proliferation of participatory approaches in the new generation of rural development projects and the widely reported poor performance of earlier rural development projects using top-down and supply-driven approaches. To read more ...

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