22. Projects with people: the practice of participation in rural development.
Publ. of the Intern. Labour Office (ILO), CH-1211 Geneva 22, Switzerland; ISBN 92-2-107282-7, 284 pp., paperback, 32.50 Swiss francs
Experience - as the author points out - has shown the importance of involving rural people in decisions concerning their own development.
His book presents a convincing case for encouraging participative processes, not as a manageable element of a project, but as the fundamental dynamic of the project itself. He stresses that participatory development must be consciously based on people, their needs, their analysis of issues and their decisions. It must trust that people, whatever the condition of their poverty and oppression, can progressively transform their environment with the help of, but not dominated by, external agents.
The author provides us with descriptions of some experiences in participative efforts which show - in his judgement - successes and failures, but also different concepts of the nature of participation, and the gap between participation as an objective and its actual implementation. Although he also provides useful insights into key elements concerning the practice of participation, and suggests possible methods and activities, he fails to address this gap directly.
Participation of rural people in development projects is not a smooth simple process where people speak freely and honestly about their problems and the alternatives they visualise, where decisions are taken regardless of local problems, of loyalities, differences and silences.
Conflicts are an everyday issue, and they help forge the process in a more "participative" but messy way. This means that one cannot speak naively of "the village" or "the rural poor", as if they were a homogeneous category, as the author often slips into doing.
The author assumes that by incorporating the felt needs of the people, by encouraging their participation, these projects will be incorporate.
However, this is not an automatic process. One wonders why participation is hardly ever conceptualised the other way around: to include the participation of the outsider in the projects of the local people.
Abstract by M.V. Martinez, shortened.
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Farming systems research and development
Review, book, Latin America, agriculture, technological innovations, debt crisis, public sector, research, private sector, biotechnological revolution, IICA
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