How Participatory Development Works
A facilitated series of six to ten community meetings - including all project beneficiaries - takes place to transform an idea for change into a action plan that will realize that change. Each meeting lasts approximately two hours in length; however, the experience is intended to be adapted to the timeframe required by the participating community, and therefore the number and length of meetings is flexible.
Relationship-building - "ice-breakers" - are generally a positive way to start each meeting, and refreshments, also add to the community meeting experience. It is also important to be inclusive of all community members, regardless of gender, race, age, socio-economic status, physical ability, etc. In Morocco, respecting cultural norms, separate community meetings are held with men and women, with gender appropriate facilitators at each meeting.
Trained facilitators are a necessary component for bringing communities together for consensus-building activities. Facilitators catalyze and help coordinate meetings and are particularly important in the beginning stages of the process to help manage conflicts, build productive relationships, and ensure all voices are heard.
Click on each activity title for a full description or download the activity guide in French.
- Community Mapping: This activity helps build a common understanding of the boundaries and characteristics of the community. Together, participants create a map of their community that shows where various resources, activities, and opportunities are located. Everyone's input is necessary in order to achieve an accurate description of the community.
- Daily Activities Schedule: This technique is meant to identify the routine demands the participants have in their daily lives (demands on their time for their own and their families' overall welfare). This is done by tracing a routine day from the time of rising to the time of retiring at the end of the day. This information provides valuable insights into their labor constraints and opportunities. The information can also serve as baseline data to return to as a way to monitor the impact of future project activities on their time allocations.
- Weekly Activities Schedule: This activity helps the community identify the routine demands they have in their daily lives. A typical day or week is looked at, from morning to bedtime. This information helps to understand how the community spends their days and how much free time they have to spend on future project activities.
- Institutional Diagram: As there are many different institutions relevant to every community, it is critical to know which institutions are the most important, have the respect and confidence of the participants, and can engage in sustainable development. This activity is meant to: 1) help learn about the activities of the various groups and organizations involved with development, 2) understand how the participants rank them according to their contribution to development, and 3) assess the relationship among these institutions by creating a diagram.
- Access to Resources Exercise: This activity allows the participants to collect information and raise awareness and understanding of how access to resources varies according to gender, education, social status and in other ways.
- Community Role Playing: Participants take on designated roles to portray a specific development issue which is relevant in their lives, and to create discussion around the causes and solutions to the issue.
- Pairwise Ranking Needs Assessment: This technique provides the means to identity principle constraints and to elicit opportunities for project intervention based on participant preferences. The session is about determining the needs of the group. Some form of group consensus must be achieved, and a high level of facilitator direction may be required in order to insure maximum participation.
- Tree Diagram: Tree diagrams are multi-purpose, visual tools for narrowing and prioritizing problems, objectives, or decisions. Information is organized into a tree-like diagram. The main issue is represented by the tree's trunk, and the relevant factors, influences and outcomes will show up as roots and branches. This method could be used after the participants needs have been identified.
- Options Assessment Chart: Once the most severe problems or priority issues have been identified by the participants, the options assessment chart encourages discussion on more detailed technical analysis of potential opportunities to address the problem. Technical experts play an important part of this activity, as they help assess the technical viability of solutions and projects.
- Creating an Action Plan: The action plan includes: 1) the community's development goals, 2) proposed actions, 3) individual and group responsibilities, 4) work schedules and, 5) areas where external assistance is needed.
- Participatory Evaluation: This activity incorporates the applied experience into a group analysis in order to enhance programming and/or project design and identification.