An Oxfam publication by Tricia Feeney provides a very useful analysis of approaches to participation in development projects. Accountable Aid deals with projects in Brazil, India and Uganda sponsored by a variety of agencies, including the World Bank, the European Union, and Oxfam itself. On the World Bank it outlines local engagement with the Rondonia project, Brazil, as well as the evolution of official complaints mechanisms and the extension of participation to cover wider macro-economic debates and country assistance strategies.
Feeney notes that participation is often “a nebulous term which does not impose any specific set of obligations on donors and governments” but which most official agencies have adopted since the end of the Cold War. She concludes that partnerships must be established between donors, government and civil society, encouraged and underpinned by a rights-based approach to development based on the principles in international agreements. Specific suggestions include:
- social assessments and stakeholder analyses as first steps in any aid intervention;
- a full participatory process with training in budgeting and other technical matters, a communications strategy using the local media, and;
- public recognition for officials and community organisers who actively mobilise people.
Accountable Aid, Local Participation in Major Projects, is available from the BEBC, Tel: 01202 715555, PO Box 1496, Parkstone, Poole, Dorset BH12 3LL, UK. £7.45 including post and packing (surface mail outside UK).