Participatory Development

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Participatory development, characterized by the active involvement and commitment of the community, is focussed on addressing the needs that the beneficiaries themselves deem necessary. Participation involves shifting power dynamics and relations from the traditionally dominant groups within any community towards those often excluded. It came up in response to the top-down approaches that dominated the 50s and 60s wherein the West was the sole model of development and power was concentrated in the hands of the external actors. The 70s saw increasing recognition of the limited long-term success of linear approaches to socio-economic development and adverse consequences outweighing the benefits. Robert Chamber’s 1983 study, “Rural Development:…show more content…
It recognizes and values what comes from the locals and seeks to enable them to take decisions on implementing changes that they want thus, giving back some degree of power to them. It strives to prioritize those usually at the bottom of the chain such as the vulnerable, disabled, marginalized, and poor and aims at bringing them to the forefront of the development process. The beneficiaries lead and shape the development agenda because of which projects are determined by ground realities and actual needs of people themselves. Their involvement is sought every step of the way from planning, decision-making, implementation to the final evaluation and assessment. Thus, the approach is centred on the shared ownership of the decision-making process among the various stakeholders. PD also signifies a paradigm shift in designated roles of the development actors. In the top-down approaches control rests in the hands of external agents, however in PD the stakeholders share the control. Development agents work as facilitators and catalysts while being committed to learning from all participants and partners instead of being teachers or leaders. The community are the drivers of their change while external agents work as supporters and enablers. Therefore, effective participation, within the development context, incorporates the principles of inclusion,…show more content…
Marginalisation, a process of repulsion, expulsion, segregation or obstruction, is commonplace in societies across the world and hinders the inclusion of those that might have a more pressing need and greater requirement of development assistance. The definition of “normal” and a wide range of factors such as age, caste, ethnicity, religion, disability (among other things), contribute to the exclusion of certain individuals and groups. Often dominant groups within target communities co-opt the development efforts to further their own gains whilst diverting the attention and resources from those that may actually require them. For instance, the elites (local leaders) and men might be vociferous and end up subverting the development agenda such that they gain maximum benefits while women, children, disabled, and the elderly remain on the outside. A complete understanding of the existing power dynamics within the community is required before initiating any development efforts in order to derive a sustained and optimum impact from the entire process. Therefore, it is imperative to secure the participation and active involvement of groups particularly vulnerable to social exclusion and marginalisation and redefine power dynamics

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