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Localizing development : does participation work?

Concept notes and papers

Promoting participation through community development projects and local decentralization has become a central tenet of development policy. The World Bank alone has invested about $85 billion over the last decade on development assistance for participation. However, some observers feel that policy making in the area is conceptually weak, that project design is informed more by slogans than careful analysis. There have also been questions about whether participatory development is effective in reducing poverty, improving service delivery, and building the capacity for collective action. Some observers also find that participatory projects are complex to implement and deeply affected by context, and are thus unsuited for large development institutions such as the World Bank. This groundbreaking report carefully examines each of these concerns. It outlines a conceptual framework for participation that is centered on the concept of civil society failure and how it interacts with market and government failures. The authors use this framework to understand the key policy debates surrounding participatory development and to frame the key policy questions. The report conducts the most comprehensive review of the evidence on the impact of participatory projects to date, looking at more than 400 papers and books. The report argues that participatory development is most effective when it works within a “sandwich” formed by support from an effective central state and bottom-up civic action.

Related
Publications

Dialogues on Localizing the Post-2015 Development Agenda

Available in English

This report is based on a dialogue process through 2014, whose purpose was to respond to the following questions: how will the Post-2015 Development Agenda be implemented at the local level?; what loc...

Developed by United Nations Development Programme (UN...

Posted by Admin

Concept notes and papers

Delivering the Post-2015 Development Agenda

Available in English

The current report picks up where 'A Million Voices' left off, and looks in more depth at the factors within each country that will support or impede implementation. A set of Dialogues has been explor...

Developed by United Nations Development Programme (UN...

Posted by Admin

Concept notes and papers

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