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Participatory Methods and Approaches

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In today’s class, we will learn about participatory methods or what has otherwise also been known as participatory rural appraisal methods, which got a lot of attention of development workers and researchers right from the 1990s onwards.What we will cover in today’s lesson are as follows.We will first look at the concept of participation in development, what are the considerations for using participatory methods, participatory methods that are currently largely in the user which have been dominantly used.Also, we will look at what are the different participatory methods, whose use has widely spread in recent times.And we will end today’s lesson with some critical perspectives on participation in development, mostly in the form of questions.I will try to end this lesson in the form of questions primarily because participation in development research is a wide area and there are a lot of contestations with regard to the meaning of participation.Now, considering the fact that there is a lot of contestations with regard to the meaning of participation here and these contestations are arising primarily because of the historical origins, the theoretical grounding and the critical connotation of what is the meaning of participation.But a highly experienced development researcher or development worker would know that participation is a term which is widely and very loosely used and therefore understanding the meaning of what one means by participatory methods is of at most importance.Let us look at some of the meanings that are attached to participatory methods or what is meant by participation in development research.Now, these are some of the common meanings attached to participation and participatory, one is participation is a voluntary contribution by people in projects but without their taking part in decision making.Usually when we carry out consultation processes, consultations with regard to a methodology or a certain concept that we are using in our research process, then that can also mean we are inviting a group of people who can comment or who can discuss the methodological framework and the conceptual clarity that we are using in our research.However, the people involved in the consultation process might not necessarily take part in the decision making of the research itself.That would also refer to as participation.Participation also would mean sensitization of people to increase their receptivity and ability to respond to development projects.It is an active process meaning that the person or group in question takes initiatives and asserts the autonomy to do so.It can also be meant as the fostering of a dialogue between local people and the projector program preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation staff in order to obtain information on local context and on social impacts.Participation is also voluntary involvement of people in self-determined change and it also may mean involvement in people’s development of themselves, their lives and their environment.Now, participation had a renaissance of sorts in the 1990s and various terms such as participatory rural appraisal, rapid rural appraisals, PRAs, RRAs started coming to be used.So much so that many scholars felt that there has been a paradigm shift towards the way research is being conducted, the focus moving from things to people and also there being a role reversal of sorts with regard to how research is being approached.Now, it will be useful to look at some of these conceptual shifts or shifts in perception with regard to participation that happened in the last few decades.Let us begin with the 1960s onwards.Now in the 1960s participation mostly referred to sharing of technologies that were transferred from outside and self-help groups also attracted a lot of attention and that was also referred to as participation in development where the different actors who have something to say about development are a part of the development process itself.In the 1970s popular participation of the poor and excluded to gain access to and control over development resources and benefits was something which is which was highly discussed.However, in the 1970s, participants were also largely referred to as beneficiaries.In fact, most of the language of the government programs, policy initiatives that were carried out, you would see are largely referred to as functionaries and beneficiaries, as though the beneficiaries are passive recipients of a good that is being provided to them.So, the concept of beneficiaries came to be used widely in the 1970s onwards, and here the perspective of participation was that the beneficiaries are a part of the development process for their own benefit.So for example, if we are talking about food for work program or a program in which seeds are being distributed to farmers, here farmers were not referred to as participants of a development process but were referred to as beneficiaries were some benefits are being provided to them in the form of doles or welfare benefits.Participation was also referred to as a process owned and controlled by those whom development is supposed to benefit and participation was also referred to as working with people rather than for them.By the 1980s the perception change towards what is referred to as projects with people and a rapid rise in popularity of the use of participatory approaches in projects and programs.And various methods are promoted by the official agencies themselves, various international organizations who contributed to studies on health and nutrition and labour issues and also development issues also made use of participatory approaches.In fact, there were some of the beginners in the users of participatory approaches.And these participatory approaches or methods were promoted by the participatory development school.So you would see that different schools of thought emerged with regard to the different approaches to development as a methodological exercise that should be used in how development should be viewed.By the 1990s the game changed completely and participation here from now on was viewed more as a partnership, coordination, or ownership of programs leading to people's control over their resources.And participation debates moved beyond the bounds of the community from the beneficiary to stakeholders and customers and there was a lot of focus on scaling out and scaling up of participation.From 2000 onwards to the present, there has been a move away from projects towards sector programs and macro policy environments.Participation also moved from micro towards meso and macro levels and the forms of invited participation have multiplied, expanding into spheres such as policy reforms.Now if we analyze these changes over time, we see that there is an emerging consensus on the importance of participation in development projects with a particular focus on rural development and rural research.Now, it is also important to look at the different strategies and interests in participation because the efforts in the past decade have moved towards bringing participation to development mainstream and that has yielded a rich harvest of learning and as a result of these learnings, we now have different strategies and interests in participation, which we should bear in mind.Now, let us look at a typology of people's participation in development.Let us not forget that participatory approaches are used for many purposes.It has been common practice to make a distinction between participation as a means or instrumental participation to improve development activities and it is also used as an end.And when participation is used as an end in itself, it means that the focus is on some kind of transformational analysis.Some kind of a transformation might have happened among people's lives wherein because of the use of participatory approaches or participation, it has resulted in that kind of a transformation.So as an analytical distinction, it may be useful, but in practice, the distinction between instrumental and transformational participation often turns out to be less relevant, since participation as a goal of democratizing involvement and as a means to enhance effective development can be pursued at the same time.And now let us look at this at different typologies of people's participation beginning with passive participation.Now in the typology of passive participation, basically people participate by being told what is going to happen or what has already happened with no ability to change it.When I was referring to beneficiaries being passive recipients of a certain welfare benefit.So, this is what we refer to as passive participation, people participate, but they have no ability to change what is being provided of them.And the information being shared belongs only to external professionals.Now, in the for example, in the case of the high yielding varieties of seeds, a green revolution that happened in India, now, the beneficiaries who received the technology, the high yielding variety technology, were merely passively participating in the sense that the technology was imposed on them and there was no scope on the part of the beneficiaries to challenge the use of technology that is being provided to them and the expertise with regarding the technology of green revolution was held in the hands of the experts or the professionals who are involved in it.So that is one of the examples of passive participation.Participation in information giving.Now this happens when people participate by answering questions posed by extractive researchers and developers and people do not have the opportunity to influence proceedings as the findings of the research are neither shared nor checked for accuracy.Now, this might happen in the case of supposing, let us say that the certain government interventions are to be carried out in a certain locality or a certain region, where means testing are carried out, means testing in the sense that social-economic data are collected from the households by asking questions to them.However, here the people who are involved in answering questions put out to them are also participating in an exercise, in a development exercise.However, they do not have the scope of challenging the questions that are being posed to them.Now, thirdly, participation by consultation.Here people participate by being consulted and external people listen to views.External professionals define both problems and solutions and may modify these in light of people's responses.And the consultative process does not concede any share in decision making and professionals are under no obligation to take on board people's views.Participation for material incentives.Here are people participate by providing resources such as labour and land in return for food, cash or other material incentives.People have no stake in prolonging activities when the incentives end.Now for example, even here, in the case of material incentives where let us say some interventions are being carried out some kind of scientific experiments are being carried out.For example, let us say nuclear testing in certain locations of a certain country, where the testing is being carried out on a piece of land which is held by a group of people in a certain village, where there is very scant habitation.And however, the people concerned have do not have much say on the experiments that are being carried out.And here the incentives provided to the households might be in the form of cash or various other in-kind activities.A fifth typology is that of functional participation: Here people participate by forming groups or committees which are externally initiated.And these groups or committees are seen as a means to achieve predetermined goals.And these groups tend to be dependent on external initiations and facilitators but may eventually become self-dependent.Now, this is something that we see in the case of self-help groups, let us say for example, where some kind of a policy initiative is begun from the end of the external initiators.However, at the end of the exercise, women’s groups or groups of men and women within the region might also stand benefited because of their role in initiating the change itself.The sixth kind is what is referred to as interactive participation: Now, here people participate by being involved in the analysis and development of action plans.Here participation is seen as a right and not just as a mechanical function.In here groups may be formed together with partners or donor agencies and make use of systematic and structured learning processes.Here groups take control over local decisions and so people have a stake in maintaining structures or practices.Many of you might not have been aware of certain concepts in various mobilizations that are carried out let us say, for example, food sovereignty movements where groups of people participate in a research method as a matter of right, as a matter of taking decisions over what food to produce, how it is to be produced, what seeds to be used.Now, this is an example of interactive participation where the participants themselves take control of the development process that is being initiated.Self-mobilization is another of the typology where people participate by taking initiatives to change systems independent of external institutions and they retain control over how resources are used and such self-initiated mobilization and collective action may or may not challenge the existing inequitable distribution of wealth and power.Catalyzing Change is another typology where the involvement and stakes of community members in influencing others in the environment to participate initiate change.Another of a typology is optimum participation.It indicates the need to focus closer attention on the different contexts and purposes in order to determine what form of participation makes sense.And finally, manipulation, which is nothing but a pretence of involvement where there is no real power.Example to people's representatives on a board or committee who are outnumbered by external agents.Often in the case of rehabilitation exercises or land grabbing exercises, where the corporate houses are asked to form certain participatory methods of ensuring that people are participating in the process of land acquisition or land grabbing and so on.As a matter of formality people's representatives are made members of a certain board or a group.However, they are out-numbered by the external members as a result of which the representative himself or herself does not have much of a say in the group that has been formed.Now that also leads to various kinds of consequences.So, this is a broad typology of what we mean by people's participation in development.And of course, all those participatory exercises in the middle here mostly are seen to have born positive consequences and the four typologies of participation on the top here are mostly passive forms of participation, where the beneficiary, the so-called beneficiary seems to be a passive recipient of some kind of welfare good or a welfare benefit without much say in whether the welfare benefit reached out to him or she is of much use to them or not.Now, sometimes participation can also mean conflicting interests.So it is also useful to come up with the typology of interest in participation.Now there can be different forms of participation like nominal, instrumental, representative and transformative.It is useful to tabulate typology of interests in the manner that is showing up on your side now.What participation means to the implementing agency, what participation means for those on the receiving end or whom we generally call as beneficiaries or participants and what participation actually is for what is the purpose of participation.Now, based upon the literature coming up from different scholars, the typology of interesting participation can be categorized under 4 broad heads.Nominal, instrumental, representative and transformative.Under nominal forms of participation, what participation means to the implementing agencies as follows.It means legitimization or to show that they are doing something, whereas participation for those on the receiving end would mean inclusion- to retain some access to potential benefits.And what participation is for the purpose?It is for the purpose of display.In the case of instrumental participation, for the implementing agency, it means efficiency to limit funders input and make projects more cost-effective, for the participants nor the beneficiaries cost of time spent on project-related labour and other activities, and the purpose is as a means to achieve in cost-effectiveness and local facilities.Representative- for the implementing agency it refers to sustainability to avoid creating dependency.So creating dependency on the part of participants on the implementing agency.For those in the receiving end leveraging to influence the shape of the project and its management and the purpose of it is to give people a voice in determining their own development.Transformative is- for the implementing agency empowerment or to enable people to make their own decisions.For the participants- empowerment to be able to decide and act for themselves.And the purpose of this form of participation is to be used both as means and an end, which is a continuing dynamic.In terms of the conflict of interest with regard to participation, representative and transformative forms of participation are highly desirable in the case of the development research process.Now, moving on, let us also look at what are the principles of applying participatory methods.What I would have done is to broadly categorize them under certain broad indicators.And let us begin with the first principle of a reversal of learning.Here the principle of applying participatory method is to learn from people directly on the site, gaining from local, physical, technical and social knowledge.The second principle is that of learning rapidly and progressively not following a blueprint program but adapting in a learning process.The third principle is that of offsetting biases, being relaxed and not rushing, listening and not lecturing, being unimposing instead of important, learning concerns and priorities.Some of the other principles of applying participatory methods are optimizing trade-offs.Here the principles of optimal ignorance and appropriate imprecision are applied.Triangulation meaning using different methods, sources and disciplines and a range of informants in a range of places, seeking diversity, which means seeking variability rather than averages, maximizing diversity and richness of information.We also depend upon facilitating or facilitating investigation, analysis, presentation and learning by people themselves.Critical self-awareness and responsibility.Facilitators are continuously examining their behaviour and trying to do better and welcoming errors is an opportunity to learn.Sharing is one of the principles of applying participatory methods.Here basically it means sharing of information, methods or food, field experiences, ideas between people, between them and facilitators and between different facilitators.There is also a commitment to equity.Empowering those who are marginalized, excluded and regarded as not capable and changing behaviour and attitudes from dominating to facilitating, gaining rapport, asking people, respecting them, handing over the stick, empowering and enabling them to conduct their own analysis.Now, all of these principles that have been highlighted on the slide basically referred to you can also consider them as some of the ethical considerations to be kept in mind while carrying out participatory methods in the research process that we are employing.So, it is useful to keep some of these principles in mind such as triangulation, where it basically means that we might have carried out certain research.But of course, it is always better to validate the same research by reaching out to our peer group and having some kind of a validated check with regard to the research that has been carried out.This is referred to as triangulation.Another useful principle to be kept in mind is what is referred to as facilitating.How to do it?Often facilitation of investigation and analysis and presentation and learning by people themselves.So for example, if we are studying let us say employment opportunities or the lack of employment opportunities in a certain region and if we go back to the people themselves and ask them to investigate the reasons as to what are the reasons why employment opportunities are a problem in this region, then it might lead to learnings by the people themselves.So for example, suppose there is a source of employment or source of work which people can tap.However, it is, there are there have been some kind of a knowledge issue with regard to how and where to tap the source of work, then this kind of facilitation of investigation by the people themselves may also help them to get employment opportunities.Now, let us look at some of the participatory methods that are in use, that are widely used.Now, one of the things that are to be kept in mind is, no matter what our research topics, a variety of participatory methods can be used to come up with valuable interpretations of the research findings that we have.Now, it is useful to look at a catalogue of participatory methods to be able to understand where and when to use a certain participatory method.Now let us begin with a review of secondary sources.Now, no matter as I said, what our research topic is, there is almost always a wealth of information hidden in a variety of resources and many references are accessible in libraries, in reports and in databases, and many documents may be downloaded from the internet.In fact, it is crimes in research and development work to not allocate time for documentary studies.Because when we have done proper prior documentation of our studies or we have done a proper literature review, it gives us a better start and saves time not only of our own but more importantly valuable time for our respondents.And there are various sources of being able to do a review of secondary sources.In fact, in week 3 and lesson one, we have had a detailed lesson on information and literature study.I encourage students to go back to the lesson one of week 3 to be able to tap on the various kinds of literature review that can be carried out that we have studied.This is one of the first items on the catalogue of participatory methods.The second is on direct observations.Now, this is a very classical method that is used in anthropology for understanding indigenous knowledge.Here observation of physical structures, social differences, behaviour, action and symbols in solitude or with others with whom observation or discussed provides important information for posing central questions.Now observation during all phases of a study contributes information on persistence and change and the shift in development cooperation from top-down interventions towards grassroots participatory perspectives provides a great demand for up to date approaches to appreciate indigenous knowledge in a globalizing world.Another item on the catalogue of participatory methods is what is referred to as semi structured interviews and we have again had a detailed lesson on semi-structured interviews in week4 lesson 2.So, you can refer to that lesson for detailed information.However, understand that increasingly interviews based on written or memorized checklists are taking the place of or supplementing large scale structured questionnaire surveys in development studies, primarily because large scale structured questionnaires are extremely time-consuming and in today’s world of fast-paced dynamics in various contexts, even the respondents of the participants do not have much time to spend with the surveyors themselves.And therefore, semi-structured interviews, questions which are open-ended have come to take a pride of place in terms of getting information about the key individuals or key informants.We have also seen how unexpected relevant issues can be followed up with further questions or probing in the case of semi-structured interviews.Some of the important interviewees to be focused on are typically key individuals, focus groups or mixed groups.The next item in the catalogue of participatory methods is key indicators.Now, the key indicators can come up as an important item in both quantitative or qualitative studies, as some kind of a unit of information.Here, an indicator is a qualitative or quantitative factor that provides a basis for assessing importance, achievement, change or performance.And some of the key indicators that need focus on are local indicators, national and global indicators and indicators for objectives, for achievement, outputs and performance.Now, local indicators contain basically local stakeholders criteria for what is more and less significant.Example criteria for priority crops, of poverty or well being or gender roles or illness, etc that are vital in problem analysis and for posing relevant questions.So for example, when we are studying cultivation practices or we are studying certain varieties of crops that need more emphasis, in a certain geographical region, often top-down approaches fail.And we need bottom-up approaches where grassroots involvement is a must and this where local stakeholders have much to say.Local stakeholders might mean the farmers themselves.We can go on for further disaggregation in the form of male farmers and female farmers, stakeholders in the sense of local agricultural functionaries, extension workers who are involved in providing seeds, distribution of seeds and so on.So, local stock stakeholders criteria with regard to crops can become a very important factor in designing the development process that we are aiming at.National and global indicators are also very important.Now since development studies are set in contexts where social groups, geographical areas, environmental zones, etc analyzed and then compared, it is necessary to be familiar with the indicators that are applied at national and global levels.For example, the globally agreed Millennium Development Goals for Sustainable development goals now are providing key indicators in a long list of global and national conditions relating to human development, poverty, and ecological sensitivity etc in the United Nations And Human Development Reports.Indicators for objectives, for achievement, outputs and performances are other important areas.Because these are integral tools when the logical framework is applied in planning and monitoring development interventions and most development agencies attach much importance to indicators without necessarily being able to advise on which indicators to use.Another important item on the catalogue of participatory methods is that of ranking and scoring and this is an item which is actually widely used in development work and development research.It is basically used to assess people's expectations, beliefs, judgments, attitudes, preferences, and opinions.And I have a few diagrams to show as to how different rankings and scoring methods that are carried out in the field can tell us a lot with regard to the perceptions of people and how we can again go on to analyze them.Now, this is an example of a matrix scoring and ranking of vegetables that are grown in Gambia and this participatory method was employed among young women and these are 3 matrix scoring that I would eventually show.This is a matrix scoring and ranking of vegetables grown by young women.This is a matrix scoring and ranking of crops grown by older women.And so if you look at the differences between the 2, here the younger women were asked to identify vegetables that are grown and the criteria that they are using for giving a lot of emphasis on which plant should be grown.Similarly here, older women were asked to rank crops by given criteria with regard to which of those crops they would attach more weights on.Now, if you look at this diagram very closely, you would see that this is in the form of a matrix, where the criteria are shown on the y-axis here were more durable in terms of storage, more cash yielding, more blood giving, more energy-giving, which is consumed most, more marketable, less water requirement.And the vegetables here are Eggplant, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Sorrel, Barambi green.These are basically crops that are specific to the Gambian context, okra, onions, cabbage and so on.The places where you see more dots are for example onions if you see the number of dots here is very high which means that they are more durable in terms of storage.So more cash yielding you see more scores here, so these are the vegetables that are more cash yielding.More blood giving basically more nutritious foods are ranked here.More energy-giving- these are more energy-giving crops.Consumed the most- again, these are the crops that are consumed most.More marketable- if you see here mango which is a fruit is more marketable.Barambi green, mostly because it is consumed more so it is more energy-giving, it is more nutritious, it is more marketable, And these are crops which require less water- tomatoes, the barambi green, cassavas, onions and so on.So this is one example of how a matrix scoring method can be created on the field.Now note the different criteria or indicators used by the 2 groups of women, younger women and the older women here.The older women have used the criteria in terms of food that is being consumed.They were asked the same question with regard to ranking the crops that are of importance to them.