Participatory approaches concerning development agencies


"Participatory approaches are a product of long-lasting interaction between researchers, development workers, government agents and local populations. The history of participatory methods in development co-operation began in the late 1970s with the introduction of a new research approach called 'Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA)', which immediately became popular with decision-makers in development agencies. Building on a close collaboration with local populations RRAs were designed to collect first-hand data from the local people about their perceptions of their local environments and living conditions in rural areas. RRAs were usually conducted as 1-3 days' workshops with villagers in the field and facilitated by small teams of RRA specialists or researchers. RRA methods were specifically adapted to respond to local conditions. Thus, communication processes with illiterate persons not used to communication in abstract terms were carefully considered. Visualization using locally comprehensible symbols, and tools like mapping, diagramming and ranking were introduced. A limitation of RRA, however, was that the role of the local people was limited to providing information, while the power of decision-making about the use of this information remained in the hands of others.

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