The development community has entered an age concerned with participation. Emerging as a supposed alternative paradigm of development intervention in the late 1970s, the concept of participation was widely taken up in the 1990s. Participation seems to reach those corners of the development process which other concepts have failed to reach.

The literature on ‘participation in development’ , or ‘participatory development’ as it has erroneously come to be called by some, is extensive. Participation sits at ease in all major development sectors – agriculture, health and education, for example – and it would not be a total exaggeration to say that hardly a thought or an action in contemporary development practice has not been touched by its influence. Currently, we have participation in everything: planning, research, monitoring and evaluation, training, management and so on. The impression is one of widespread universal participation in development but the reality is somewhat different.



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