PARTICIPATORY DEVELOPMENT RESEARCH
PDR is an approach to community mobilization and development that uses inclusive dialogue (often facilitated) among potential stakeholders (communities, government and NGOs) and results into projects that satisfy needs.
The following are also development approaches that are based on the same principles:
· Action Research
· Practitioner Research
· New Paradigm Research
· Future Search
· Participatory Design
· Participatory Rural Appraisal
· Participatory Analysis for Community Action
· Appreciative Inquiry
· Strategic Development Planning
· Holistic Management
· Ecology, Community Organization and Gender Approach to Natural Resources Management and Sustainable Development
· Community-based Dialogue for Racial and Ethnic Reconciliation
· Problem-solving Workshop for Racial and Ethnic Conflicts
FOR THOUGHT: Objective facilitators help create productive partnerships and promote dialogue. Why is the need for facilitation (a crucial role in PDR and the other development approaches) not included in their definitions?
PDR and other approaches produce many important benefits because:
· Projects respond to the needs of communities who have ownership and build on the returns.
· Projects incorporate economic, cultural, historic and environmental factors in their design.
· There is an enhanced ability among parties to work as a team and make informed decisions.
· Projects adapt well to evolving economic conditions.
These development approaches create projects that:
· Generate employment and income
· Provide vital resources (such as food and healthcare)
· Further education
· Preserve natural resources
· Forge public-private partnerships
· Promote local and national autonomy
· Neighboring communities collaborate on new projects that benefit their region
· Civil-society institutions are created
· Greater trust is instilled among the participants
The following four initiatives will significantly advance community development across a country:
1. Community Development Planning and Training Centers: These centers, which are located in communities and locally managed, help facilitate and implement development designed by communities, government agencies and NGOs. Centers also provide training, can assist in community-based reconciliation among diverse groups. PDR methods need to be adapted to the social context where they are applied.
2. An Agency of Coordination: An Agency of Coordination brings together communities, government agencies and NGOs for planning and implementing development. It performs this coordination task at the local, regional and national levels.
3. Fruit and Forestry Tree-Planting and Irrigation Improvements: Tree-planting is regularly identified by communities (urban and rural) to be a top priority. They provide income, jobs, food and environment enhancement. Modern irrigation has been shown to increase arable land and lay a foundation for potable water. Teachers can help organize tree-planting projects with their schools and communities.
4. Participatory Politics: The U.S. and others should encourage election campaigns of candidates to be largely composed of community meetings (facilitated by the candidate, if possible) where local constituents design projects that address their needs. Those projects are the platform upon which a candidate runs—whether for head of a rural commune, city council or parliament. Through building local capacity and affirming local initiative the people will be less inclined to radicalize.
Funding is needed for the planning centers, Agency of Coordination, training in facilitation, and, to the largest degree, implementing the projects the parties design. As community resources improve, outside funding becomes less necessary.
Participation in community development re-constructs society economically and politically.