What is Participatory Development?

A process through which groups and communities determine through inclusive dialogue and consensus 1) their development priorities and 2) the design of solutions that address their priority needs. The responsibility of implementation of a solution lies with the participants.

--PROCESS implies it must be ongoing--PD has as its objective the continued establishment of solutions and ongoing partnerships.

--INCLUSIVE means all groups and individuals effected by the "problem." Inclusion helps ensure the long life of projects by: 1) their design being based on more information and 2) them being tailored to participant needs and thus more people have the interest of maintaining the projects.

--RESPONSIBILITY FOR IMPLEMENTATION rests with those the projects serve.

--Participatory projects generate new income and/or services where the output generated outweighs the cost of outputs.

Third-party facilitators help maintain an inclusive process and draws out from the parties their needs and interests.

--Facilitators need to hold back their input into the dialogue.

--Successful facilitators are respectful, perseverant, flexible, and have a sense of fairness.

Relating the Qualities of PD to Various Social Movements:


"The prime cause of all disorders that visit society, of the oppression of the citizens, and the decay of nations, lies in the single and hierarchical centralization of authority." (Proudhon, 1851)

--How does participatory development decentralize?


"What is aspired to is the fullest development of individuality combined with the highest development of free association in all its aspects." (Kropotkin, 1886)

--Does participatory development combine development of the individual and association?


"We shall have an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all." (Communist Manifesto, 1848)

--The interconnection of interests, so that the furthering of one satisfies others.


"An economy with a flexible structure, which can readily adjust with the needs of the time, will achieve faster development than an economy with a rigid structure." (Kittick, 1995)

--PD induces economic flexibility by enhancing the decision-making capacity of its participants, and creating a low risk environment for investment.


"We try to facilitate a process whereby solutions will emerge out of the interaction between the parties themselves." (Kelman, 1992)

--Since PD and conflict management are based on the same principles, could this suggest that PD is generates trust among its participants?


"Learning is most effective when students involvement, participation, and interaction is maximized." (Stephen Fallows and Kemal Ahmet, 1999)

--What then is the role of the teacher? Is it similar to that of a PD facilitator?

Participatory Development "Challenging" the Central Authority:

"Development projects that reallocate economic resources, increase income, and expand participation in the economy also create new and potentially more powerful interest groups that can make claims on and challenge central authority. Indeed, the creation of countervailing power is often a precondition for sustaining organizational reforms such as administrative decentralization" (Rondinelli, 1993).

"Social action projects having only economic goals initially may give rise to explicitly political activism" (Knippers, 1991).
"Sustainable development is a revolutionary political and social concept. It will not succeed without the conviction and participation of the masses of people who must bring it about. Gaining that conviction and participation is a more important challenge for external assistance agencies than providing capital and technical assistance" (Mikesell, 1992).

--Do external development agencies have the right to put in motion a development process that can "challenge the central authority" or encourage "explicit political activism"?

--On what conditions can external agencies interfere in the internal affairs of another country?