Springs of Participation

Creating & Evolving Methods for Participatory Development
ISBN 978-185339-647-2

 

Edited by Karen Brock & Jethro Pettit

 

 

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Abstract

Springs of Participation brings together the experiences and reflections of a group of practitioners of participatory methodologies, who work in diverse situations and countries. 
Academics and practitioners can learn how to develop effective and sustainable new methods. Learning from others in the form of fusion and adaptation of existing tools and approaches is very much part of evolving new participatory methods. This book discusses a wide and rich range of participatory methods, focussing on Reflect and the Internal Learning System (ILS).

About the editors

Karen Brock is a social scientist, editor and development consultant, and was formerly a researcher in the Participation Group at IDS, University of Sussex. She specializes in issues of natural resources management, social science research methodologies, policy processes and agropastoral livelihoods in Africa. She is the co-editor of Knowing Poverty: Critical reflections on participatory research and policy (Earthscan) and Unpacking Policy: Knowledge, actors and spaces in poverty reduction in Uganda and Nigeria (Fountain Press).

Jethro Pettit is a member of the Participation, Power and Social Change team at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex. He works on the design and facilitation of learning for reflective practice and change in both organizational and educational contexts. He has worked in the past with international NGOs, including World Neighbors, Oxfam America and UUSC in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and with social justice, environment and peace movements in the US and UK. 

About the contributors

David Archer is Head of Education at ActionAid International. In the 1980s he worked on literacy programmes across Latin America inspired by Paulo Freire (Literacy and Power: the Latin American battleground (Earthscan). In the 1990s he was involved in developing the Reflect approach to adult learning, co-authoring ‘The Reflect Mother Manual’ and ‘Communication and Power’. He now supports coalitions and campaigns on the right to education across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Recent work focuses on IMF policies and education, and on HIV and education.

Carlos Barahona is a Senior Statistician at the Statistical Services Centre (SSC), University of Reading (UK), where his main duties involve consultancy and training. He has a BSc in agriculture and an MSc in biometry. His work has taken him to Malawi, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Bolivia, Honduras and Guatemala. His interests include the use of statistics in agriculture, planning and supporting optimal research processes in developing countries, and the integration of statistical and participatory methodologies.

Karen Brock is a social scientist, editor and development consultant, and was formerly a researcher in the Participation Group at IDS, University of Sussex. She specializes in issues of natural resources management, social science research methodologies, policy processes and agropastoral livelihoods in Africa. She is the co-editor of Knowing Poverty: Critical reflections on participatory research and policy (Earthscan) and Unpacking Policy: Knowledge, actors and spaces in poverty reduction in Uganda and Nigeria (Fountain Press).

Robert Chambers is a Research Associate at the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex. His current interests include knowledge in development, perceptions of poverty, institutional, professional and personal learning and change, and participatory methodologies. Recent activities include facilitating participatory workshops and writing. His latest books are Participatory Workshops (2002) and Ideas for Development (2005), both published by Earthscan, London.

Dee Jupp is a social development consultant who has lived and worked for extensive periods in Bangladesh and Jamaica, helping governments, NGOs and community-based organizations to adopt participatory approaches. She has trained facilitators and led participatory research and workshops in Tanzania, Kenya, China, the Caribbean and Bangladesh on diverse issues including road and market design, health and education services, agricultural extension, community development, human rights, access to credit and banking services, crime and violence, peace-building and poverty assessments.

Sarah Levy is a macroeconomist. In 1998, she set up Calibre Consultants, which provides support for the design and management of research programmes in developing countries. From 1999 to 2004, she worked on monitoring and evaluation for a large-scale food security programme in Malawi, contributing to the development of an approach which generates national statistics using participatory methods. Recently, she edited the book Starter Packs: A Strategy to Fight Hunger in Developing Countries? Lessons from the Malawi experience, 1998– 2003 (CABI).

Linda Mayoux is an international consultant working on issues of empowerment, gender analysis, poverty and participatory impact assessment and research, in diverse areas, including micro-finance and ethical/fair trade in South Asia, Africa and Central America. Linda also has extensive academic research experience on gender and poverty issues based at Cambridge, the Open University and Glasgow University in UK. Her main current focus is the development of Participatory Action Learning Systems (PALS) and empowerment strategies, with partner organizations in Africa and Asia.

Sundaram  Nagasundari has training in NGO Management and Development Education. She has worked since 2001 for the New Entity for Social Action (NESA), a network that works to secure life with dignity for marginalized communities. It has 40 partners who are engaged with 6.5 million people in 7,200 villages of southern India. She joined NESA to implement a project on participatory impact assessment and community planning through pictorial diaries, the Internal Learning System (ILS). Subsequently she has been involved in developing impact assessment indicators for NESA’s programme work on rights, natural resources management and HIV/AIDS. 

Maria GorethNandago is a teacher by profession with extensive experience in adult education, literacy and participatory development approaches. She works with the network of Reflect practitioners in Africa (PAMOJA) where she facilitates learning, sharing and the further evolvement of the approach, ensuring its continued relevancy in the rapidly changing context of Africa. She has contributed to several publications related to participation and adult education, including issues of Participatory Learning and Action and Education Action, among others. 

D. Narendranath did his Baccalaureate in Mechanical Engineering from Kerala and then studied Rural Management at the Institute of Rural Management, Gujarat. He has worked with the NGO PRADAN (Professional Assistance for Development Action) since 1989, organizing poor women’s self-help group (SHGs) and promoting microfinance and livelihoods. He helped to initiate the SHG concept, designing training, developing systems, and establishing credit linkages for a programme now involving 6,000 SHGs with nearly 90,000 members. Narendranath also directs the Research and Resource Centre in PRADAN, converting best practices into knowledge and documentation useful to other practitioners.

Kate Newman has worked with participatory approaches and in support of Reflect practitioners around the world, most recently as leader of ActionAid’s Reflect Team. She played a key role in developing numeracy in Reflect, and exploring how Reflect can support a rights-based approach to development. She is interested in how participatory approaches can strengthen local governance and transform power relations. Building on Reflect experience, she initiated a process to deepen organizational understanding and practice on the role of participation across all ActionAid’s work.

Helzi Noponen is a visiting associate professor at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, USA. Her teaching and research interests are in economic and sustainable development; microfinance; the informal economy; gender and development; NGOs in developing countries; and development in South Asia, where she has worked extensively over the past 25 years. She has been a key innovator of the Internal Learning System (ILS), a participatory approach to learning and self-assessment that has been piloted with self-help groups in India.

Jethro Pettit is a member of the Participation, Power and Social Change team at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex. He works on the design and facilitation of learning for reflective practice and change in both organizational and educational contexts. He has worked in the past with international NGOs, including World Neighbors, Oxfam America and UUSC in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and with social justice, environment and peace movements in the US and UK.

Joe Remenyi is a professor of development studies at Deakin University, Geelong, Australia. He is an economist by training but has spent the greater part of his professional life working in agricultural and rural contexts. He has specialized in rural finance and poverty analysis, using participatory methods in action-research-based frameworks. He has worked on poverty projects in China since 1990, contributing to the development of China’s Participatory Poverty Index (PPI). He is widely published and known for his work on microfinance, with the publication of four books in this area. 

Alice Welbourn an independent adviser on gender, HIV and elbourn is communication. She recently served as Chair of the International Community of Women living with HIV/AIDS. Alice has been HIV-positive for 15 years and all her work focuses on promoting awareness and understanding of human rights issues around HIV, including treatment access, rights to participation, gender equity, sexual and reproductive rights, and respect for people with HIV. She wrote Stepping Stones as her coping strategy in response to her diagnosis in 1993–5.

Table of contents

Introduction  Karen Brock and Jethro Pettit
What is this book about?
Mapping the landscape: opportunities and pitfalls
Key tensions and challenges 
Conclusion: practitioners and participants 
1. Seeds of success are seeds for potential failure: learning from the evolution of Reflect  David Archer
Origins of Reflect
What is Reflect and how has it evolved?
Seeds of success, seeds of failure 
2. Training and facilitation: the propellers of participatory methodologies Maria Nandago
Introduction 
Context: who is training who? 
Challenges of training 30 Introduction and use of participatory methodologies in non-participatory organizations 
The quality of participatory processes: setting standards for training?  
3. Can an international NGO practise what it preaches in participation? The case of ActionAid International Kate Newman
Introduction 
Context 
The process 
The politics, or challenges to the process 
Reflections 
Conclusions: can AAI practise what it preaches? 
Afterword 
4. It’s not just about the pictures! It’s also about principles, process and power: tensions in the development of the Internal Learning System Helzi Noponen
Introduction
What is ILS? 
Initiation 
Inspiration for the medium of pictorial diaries 
Three phases of ILS evolution: prototype design, field test and field trial 
Innovations during the field-testing phase – finding and asserting the essence and core principles of ILS 
Innovations during multi-year field trials – ‘Ah-hah!’ moments and mini-meltdowns 
Influence of the Imp-Act programme – qualitative and quantitative tensions 
Incorporating PRA elements 
Capturing reliable data 
The big meltdown – letting go of unneeded complexity 
Recovery – an organization’s core values provide a second chance 
Conclusions: the spread of ILS 
5. Steering the boat of life with the Internal Learning System: the oar of learning D. Narendranath
PRADAN: a mission to promote livelihoods 
The ILS workbooks: engaging at different levels 
How did ILS work in villages? 
Conclusions: scaling up ILS? 
6. Evolution of the Internal Learning System: a case study of the New Entity for Social Action Sundaram Nagasundari
Evolution of ILS in NESA 
Impact of ILS in NESA 
Reflections 
Major learning 
7. Road to the foot of the mountain, but reaching for the sun: PALS adventures and challenges Linda Mayoux
Introduction 
Eclectic beginnings: emotional inspiration and academic searching 
Basic road map: from broad ideas to PALS as a coherent system of principles, processes and tools 
Reaching for the sun: principles underlying concrete visions and tangible change 100 Moving beyond base camp: challenges of scaling up 
8. Keeping the art of participation bubbling: some reflections on what stimulates creativity in using participatory methods Dee Jupp
Sensitive issues as a challenge for creativity 
Finding ways to listen to extraordinary voices 
Poaching and fusion as sources of creativity 
Fun, experimentation, risk-taking and resource limitations as creative stimuli 
Enabling the spread of innovativeness 
9. HIV and AIDS, the global tsunami: the role of Stepping Stones as one participatory approach to diminish its onslaught Alice Welbourn
Introduction 
What is Stepping Stones? 
Stepping Stones creation 
Funding and donor issues 
Reflections, lessons, challenges 
10. Using numerical data from participatory research to support the Millennium Development Goals: the case for locally owned information systems Sarah Levy
Introduction 
Evolving methods through a clash of cultures 
Targeting the poor in Malawi 140 Benefits and limitations of the study
Analysing numerical data with participants 
Locally owned information systems: a vision for the 21st century 
Conclusion 
11. Participatory village poverty reduction planning and index-based poverty mapping in China Joe Remenyi
Introduction 
Listening to the poor 
An enabling policy environment and the role of key policy actors 
Principles for participatory VPR planning and mapping 
Describing poverty in rural China using common indicators 
Developing and using the PPI 
Adaptations and scaling up 
Conclusions 
12. Navigating the trade-offs in the use of participatory approaches for research Carlos Barahona with contributions from Dee Jupp, Helzi Noponen and Alice Welbourn
Introduction 
Case study 2The Internal Learning System 
What do these cases tell us? 
Case study 3 Ethical issues 
Concluding thoughts 
13. Creating, evolving and supporting participatory methodologies: lessons for funders and innovators Robert Chambers
Introduction 
RRA and PRA: a personal journey 
Enabling conditions 
Disabling conditions 
Practical advice for funders 
Lessons for innovators 

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