Amongst other things, The initiative seeks to bring the perspectives of those in poverty into the decision making process around the post 2015 settlement.
The initiative has been going for about 5 months. They have just published a synthesis report of 84 existing participatory studies from 107 countries. (They are also doing primary research in 14 or so countries). The aim is to feed these perspectives into the post 2015 process, with a key focus on the upcoming UN High Level Panel meeting in Bali.
Each of the 84 studies is focused on different experiences of poverty and exclusion and they use a variety of different participatory methods. The methodology could be clearer (a methods paper is promised) but the studies are selected based on (1) participatory methodological credibility, (2) whether the research is embedded in a longer term relationship, (3) whether the research is multi country and multi-site to avoid one-offs and (4) the research is with groups that are marginal, vulnerable or excluded.
The study's findings:
- Barriers to access for the very poorest need to be challenged directly in order to ensure equity and bring people out of extreme poverty. Interventions that improve the lives of the poor frequently fail to benefit the very poor. Implications:
- improve information about rights and services
- work to identify and reduce hidden costs to access
- work hard to address institutional discrimination
- rates of change are accelerating; development agencies-domestic and international need to get better at operating in dynamic contexts
- the rules of the game really matter--formal and informal, national and subnational
- inequalities lead to hopelessness and negative self perceptions--these are rarely taken into consideration in development policy
- sustainable development means investing in long term relationships that build local ownership and local knowledge
- how development occurs is just as important as what occurs vital--it builds confidence, dignity and a recognition of abilities
The study's key recommendations for the Post 2015 Framework
- Aim for the eradication of extreme poverty and reduction in inequalities.
- Strengthen the individual and collective capacities of people living in greatest poverty and marginalisation.
- Participation should be prioritised throughout the framework.
- it is not surprising that when you survey a set of participatory studies that the conclusion is that participatory development to be at the heart of sustainable development
- but the value of the participatory approach is clear as it shines a light on:
- a focus on the how --it is just as important as the what and why
- the psychosocial aspects of development that we spend so much time on in the Western world are given scant attention in the developing world
- the accelerating speed of change is typically an opportunity for people with resources but for people with fewer resources, it makes managing those resources more difficult
- the institutions of the state often codify (sometimes deliberately) discrimination that only the discriminated against can discern
- the realisation that access to information is not something only the rest of us crave
- the costs to participation are significant and hidden to the rest of us
I am biased, but well done to Participate. I really look forward to the primary field work to what value it adds over this synthesis work.