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what is the history of community participation in projects?

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Hello Twekwase, could you be a bit more specific in your question, as this is quite broad! Are you asking when WASH projects started involving communities? Or how community participation has made its way into development? Is it a particular geographic area? Thanks.

Rémi Kaupp gravatar imageRémi Kaupp ( 2014-12-05 14:12:44 +0000 )edit

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Don't start a PhD thesis on this! Some folks at the World Bank have already done it for you! You can check out this exhaustive review of the use of participation in development projects:

Or, read a short summary of this work at:

Conclusions point to many positive and negative aspects of participatory techniques. Conditions where participation (localizing) works best include:

  • Mechanisms for downward accountability have been well thought out and have teeth.
  • There is a strong center capable of setting eligibility criteria, building local capacity, as needed, and effectively monitoring local resource allocation decisions.
  • Projects emerge from local experimentation and innovation rather than best practice implants.
  • Efforts are made to activate civic society by creating incentives, such as audits and performance-based rewards, or by building the community’s capacity to observe and sanction through the provision of information or training, particularly where inequities are entrenched.
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It seems you may be bravely starting a PhD thesis that is so broad that no one has ever attempted it, Twekwase.

For sure, it is highly-culturally dependent. Even within a single territory, the "demand share" culture of some hunter-gatherers is so different from that of their farmer neighbours that their concepts of "community" and "participation" will already be different before anyone even speaks of a "project".

If you want to start creating a theory of participation, one suggestion is that a sense of ownership is likely to be greater if every member has contributed something, even if it is very small in comparison with the true cost.

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