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Impoverished and marginalized areas in developing countries have been the main
targets for promoting participatory forms of decision making. The rationale
is straightforward: these segments of population are generally the less educated
and less organized, they are more difficult to reach, and the institutions that
serve them are often weak. A range of participatory methods better adapted to
work at the field level have been designed to engage and enable the poor to
become active actors in development programmes. These include workshop-based
and community-based methods for collaborative decision making, methods for stakeholder
consultation, and methods for incorporating participation and social analysis
into project design. Based on a World Bank (1996) survey of participatory methods,
Table 10.5 summarizes some of relevant participatory tools.
|Table 10.5: Participatory methods and tools (World
|Collaborative decision making:
AIC encourages stakeholders to consider the social, political, and cultural
factors, along with the technical and economic aspects, that influence a
given project or policy. Activities focus on building appreciation through
listening, influence through dialogue, and control through action.
|Objectives-oriented project planning (ZOPP)
The purpose of ZOPP is to undertake participatory, objectives-oriented planning
that spans the life of the project or policy work, while building stakeholder
commitment and capacity with a series of workshops.
TeamUp builds on ZOPP, but emphasizes team building. It enables teams to
undertake participatory, objectives-oriented planning and action, while
fostering a learning-by-doing atmosphere.
|Collaborative decision making:
|Participatory rural appraisal (PRA)
PRA is a label given to a growing family of participatory approaches and
methods that emphasize local knowledge and enable people to undertake their
own appraisal, analysis, and planning. It enables devel- opment practitioners,
government officials, and local people to work together in context-appropriate
The purpose of this participatory method is to (a) provide a multisectoral,
multilevel approach to team building through training, (b) encourage participants
to learn from local experiences rather than from external experts, and (c)
empower people at the community and agency levels to initiate action.
|Methods for stakeholder consultation
|Beneficiary assessment (BA)
BAs general purposes are to (a) undertake systematic listening to
give voice to poor and other hard- to-reach beneficiaries, thereby
highlighting constraints to beneficiary participation, and (b) obtain feedback
on development interventions.
|Systematic client consultation (SCC)
SCC refers to a group of methods used by the World Bank to improve communication
among Bank staff, direct and indirect beneficiaries and stakeholders of
bank-financed projects, government agencies, and service providers, so that
projects and policies are more demand-driven.
|Methods for social analysis
|Social assessment (SA)
Objectives of SA are to (a) identify key stakeholders and establish the
appropriate framework for their participation, (b) ensure that project objectives
and incentives for change are appropriate and acceptable to beneficiaries,
(c) assess social impacts and risks, and (d) minimize or mitigate adverse
|Gender analysis (GA)
GA focuses on understanding and documenting the differences in gender roles,
activities, needs, and opportunities in a given context. It highlights the
different roles and learned behaviour of men and women based on gender attributes,
which vary across culture, class, ethnicity, income, education, and time.
Involving citizens in the decision-making process is not an easy task. It requires
careful planning, thoughtful preparation, and flexibility to change procedures
on the demand of affected stakeholders. The selection of a supportive and conducive
structure for public discourse is essential, not only to gain public acceptance,
but also to take advantage of the full potential to articulate well-balanced
decisions (Renn et al., 1993). Setting aside technical aspects and contextual
differences, participatory forms of decision making are viewed as proper mechanisms
to achieve broader social goals (Beierle, 1998). These are to inform and educate
the public, incorporate public values, assumptions, and preferences into decision
making, increase the substantive quality of decisions, foster trust in institutions,
and reduce conflict among stakeholders.