Giving Compass' Take:

• Changing current participatory development models to achieve scale can lead to positive results, but the approaches must foster organic participation and become continuously innovative in local contexts.

• What are the current challenges with participatory development? 

• Read about lessons working on community development initiatives in India. 

An interesting phenomenon that has been observed in the last few years across the development sector is the increasing realisation of the importance of participant (people for whom the impact is intended) involvement in development programmes.

This idea of designing and implementing projects and programmes with the participation of the community is broadly called participatory development. It is an idea that has existed for decades, but has been gaining relevance increasingly in practice among the development community, and has emerged as a mainstream approach in general.

Today, participatory development is seen broadly from three perspectives:

  • The rights perspective which considers participation as a fundamental right of people to decide what development is for them and how to achieve it.
  • The sustainability perspective that sees the participation of stakeholders as a way to enable self-reliant growth and ownership of one’s own development.
  • The knowledge perspective which is based on the assumption that participants understand their realities better than anyone else involved.

All three perspectives when looked at collectively, offer ethically appropriate and responsible views on how development can be imagined. However, the perspective that seems to be missing is the potential of participatory development as an approach to drive scale.

In order to delve into this subject, it becomes requisite to understand what the challenges associated with the existing approaches to achieve scale are.

It is all about: how can we imagine approaches that will focus on enabling organic participation, how can we foster continuous innovation at the local level, how can we nurture an ecosystem that would enable an environment for all individuals and institutions to exercise choice and imagination?

Read the full article about participatory development by Naveen Varshan and Sanjay Purohit at India Development Review.