Volume 19

  • It has become a cliché that potential beneficiaries will tell aid agencies whatever they understand to be the current ‘Open Sesame’ discourse that will open up the treasure trove. This received wisdom is handed down by generations of seasoned aid workers as a warning to inexperienced programme staff not to take at face value what they are told, for example, about the supplicants’ commitment – whether to principles such as gender equity, environmental conservation, and indigenous rights, or to ways of working such as transparency, democratic practices, and good governance. One could imagine ‘the locals’ providing similar briefings before being visited by an aid-agency representative: not to take too much notice of invasive questioning about ‘intra-household decision-making strategies’; to be careful not to tread on toes in any ‘wealth ranking’ exercise, which could have undesirable consequences; to go along with rituals and games, role plays and maps in the mud, timelines and activity charts, guided tours around the area, and so on, without giving away too much information. You never know where this information might end up, so it’s safer to work on the basis that if they don’t already know, it’s probably because they don’t need to.

    Certainly it has long been recognised in this journal that ‘participation’ can mask authoritarian practices on the part of external ‘change agents’ and also foster apparent compliance with the aid agenda on the part of the ‘participants’ (see, for example, Anacleti 1993; White 1996; Jackson 1997), while the more powerful players actually determine what constitutes knowledge.1  In this issue, John D. Cameron illustrates the subtle ways in which the ‘public performance’ of Andean communities involved in participatory budgeting differs from their backstage whispers; he helps to explain how they manage to ‘subvert’ the process in favour of  their own preferences for infrastructural projects – the bags of cement referred to in the article’s title. Lucy Earle considers the limitations of NGO interpretations of the ‘failed’ mobilisations by indigenous communities in the Peruvian Amazon, campaigning against the activities of extractive industries operating in their territories. In particular, she highlights the risks of romanticising what it means to be part of an indigenous community that must face a range of economic and political challenges to their identity and well-being. Norma Fuller addresses the political and ethical issues faced by anthropologists, who are often sought out by these same industries to interpret local realities and so smooth the way for the companies’ operations: how to avoid being co-opted by an agenda that local communities do not share. Elizabeth Rattine-Flaherty and Arvind Singhal also focus on the Peruvian Amazon in their description of the work of a local NGO which promotes gender equality and reproductive health, using a feminist participatory action–research approach to understanding the kinds of change that occur in the lives of the women involved. Turning to Colombia, Loramy Conradi Gerstbauer describes a Lutheran World Relief (LWR) programme which sought to form solidarity-based partnerships between peace-sanctuary churches in Colombia and congregations in the US Midwest. Two central themes emerge: that solidarity is based on mutual accountability; and that, if the voices of the South are not heard unless amplified via Northern NGOs, then the relationship could unintentionally create or deepen dependency. In exploring the valuable potential for partnership to contribute to peace-building work in the South when it is not mediated by funding from the North, the author makes a candid assessment of the pitfalls to be avoided.

    The theme of partnership is also picked up by Thomas Franklin, who emphasises the importance of acknowledging differences between the respective organisations, and the need for all parties to be clear about what it is that collaboration is intended to achieve, in order for reciprocity and mutual respect to flourish. Tina Wallace describes issues raised by civil-society organisations, and particularly those concerned with gender equity and the rights of women, regarding their virtual absence from the Paris Declaration on harmonising aid, and yet again from the progress meeting held in Accra in September 2008. Too many Northern NGOs, however, are opting to shore up rather than challenge a donor-defined development agenda, despite the fact that even some donor officials are beginning – albeit off the record – to acknowledge that the new architecture is simply not working. Ines Smyth reports on a recent congress on gender, climate change, and disaster-risk reduction (DRR) where evidence was tabled to show that climate change exacerbates existing gender inequality. Yet, once again, ‘the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) does not mention gender, and its decisions and mechanisms remain devoid of a gender perspective’. If the invisibility of gender issues at the highest levels is the outcome of some 15 years of gender mainstreaming, something is profoundly awry – and more of the same will simply not fix it.

    Climate change is expected to intensify and accelerate natural cycles such as the El Niño phenomenon, which affects the Indian Ocean, Australia, and Indonesia as well as the coastal regions of Peru and Ecuador. Predicting the onset of El Niño and taking precautionary measures to limit the damage caused is clearly of fundamental importance. Peter B. Urich, Liza Quirog, and William Granert describe a successful intervention in the island province of Bohol in the Philippines which built on adaptive community-based resource management, ensuring not only that information was communicated in a timely manner, but also that communities were able to assimilate and act on it.

    Two further contributions focus on Latin America. Jutta Gutberlet describes the many challenges faced by a network of waste-recycling co-operatives in São Paulo, ranging from their lack of working capital to the bureaucratic and logistical obstacles preventing their access to micro loans; their lack of organisational skills and experience; stigmatisation and police harassment; and the ubiquitous intermediaries who all want a cut. Worldwide, recycling performs an increasingly important social and environmental function, as well as generating employment, particularly for unskilled and semi-skilled workers. With the right support, collective recycling efforts can also increase people’s social skills, as well as providing a source of income; without this, it will remain a marginal activity undertaken by marginalised sectors. In the rural context, Ruerd Ruben, Ricardo Fort, and Guillermo Zúñiga-Arias assess the impact of Fair Trade on co-operatives of coffee and banana producers in Peru and Costa Rica. Some of the impacts are direct and tangible, in the form of increased earning potential; others are less immediate, such as increased organisational skills and, importantly, the ability to obtain credit and other inputs. At the same time, ever more plantations and multinationals are obtaining Fair Trade-like certification, and this is changing the configuration of the global market in relation to small producers. Finally, Katie Wright and Kasturi Sen report on a series of workshops held in various regions of the world to pool information and share concerns and analysis about the worrying effects of counter-terror legislation on civil-society organisations, and on the prospects for equitable development, both within countries and internationally.

    While many of the contributions in this issue focus on Latin America, the questions raised have resonance for those working in any geographical setting in which issues of polarisation are a daily reality (whether on economic, ethnic, or gender grounds, or because of other forms of discrimination), and where deep social divisions increase the prospect of armed conflict or repression, or have indeed already done so.


    1. Mompati and Prinsen (2000: 630) illustrate the literal suppression of inconvenient knowledge during a PRA pilot project in which ‘one particular woman from a subordinate ethnic group spoke out loudly against the discriminatory practices of the dominant group. It was evident that she was breaking gender and ethnic rules by a serious intake of alcohol, but quite a number of the other participants were also quite inebriated. The


    quickly pointed at a policeman, who took the woman by the arm, lifted her off the ground, and brought her to the shade of a tree about 50 metres from the meeting place. Thereafter the meeting continued as though nothing had happened.’


    Anacleti, Odhiambo (1993) ‘Research into local culture: implications for participatory development’, Development in Practice 3 (1): 44–7.

    Jackson, Cecile (1997) ‘Development work at the sharp end: field-worker agency in a participatory project’, Development in Practice 7 (3): 237–47.

    Mompati, Tlamelo and Gerard Prinsen (2000) ‘Ethnicity and participatory development methods in Botswana: some participants are to be seen and not heard’, Development in Practice 10 (5): 625–37.

    White, Sarah C. (1996) ‘Depoliticising development: the uses and abuses of participation’, Development in Practice 6 (1): 6–15.

  • Reflecting on observations of participatory budget schemes in the Andean region of South America, this article argues that the statements and behaviour of those who take part in participatory budget meetings should be understood as a form of public performance which often differs significantly from the ‘backstage discourses’ of participants once they are no longer performing in public.

    Most importantly, the widespread prioritisation of small-scale infrastructure projects that involve large volumes of cement highlights the ways in which the participants in participatory budget meetings quietly but strategically adapt external schemes and policies to their own goals and strategies.

  • This article examines the nature of social protest undertaken by an Amazonian indigenous organisation against international energy companies working in Peru. It analyses the response of Peruvian and international NGOs to the indigenous group’s activities and challenges certain stereotypes concerning the nature of indigenous collective action and perceptions of community. In particular, it focuses on the way in which NGO workers attempt to explain the failure of the indigenous organisation to mobilise and sustain collective protest. The paper highlights the dissonance between romanticisation of indigeneity and the lived reality of the indigenous group. It advocates the use of anthropological studies and social movement theory to explore the limits to indigenous mobilisation and suggests their use for more sensitive planning of initiatives with indigenous groups. As demand for oil and gas grows across the globe, and governments in developing countries seek to increase revenues from lucrative extractive industries, clashes between indigenous groups and energy companies are likely to increase. The need for sensitive engagement between NGOs and indigenous groups is therefore of the utmost importance.

  • In 2003, Lutheran World Relief (LWR), an international relief and development NGO, began a peacebuilding initiative in Colombia. They facilitated the formation of a partnership between peace sanctuary churches in Colombia and six communities of faith in the US Midwest, coordinated by LWR staff. This partnership, called Sal y Luz (salt and light) has the goal of education and advocacy both in Colombia and in the USA. Sal y Luz represents a powerful example of transnational solidarity for peace. There are also implications and lessons of this case study for the broader field of NGO peacebuilding work. The Sal y Luz model of peacebuilding brings benefits in terms of NGO accountability and effectiveness in peacebuilding. The key innovation of the model is how LWR effectively helped their US constituency understand and become involved in peacebuilding work.

  • This article analyses the social change practices of Minga Perú, an NGO in the Peruvian Amazon that promotes gender equality and reproductive health through radio broadcasts and community-based interventions. This analysis, grounded in participatory research methods, reveals a feminist and gender-equitable approach, allowing participants to take the role of leader rather than of passive research subject. Further, such participatory research methods helped empower both individuals and their communities in the Peruvian Amazon, encouraging the development of more productive group dynamics and leadership.

  • Lack of working capital hinders collective commercialisation of recyclables. Social exclusion and bureaucratic constraints prevent recyclers from accessing official bank loans. As they continue to depend on intermediaries, the cycle of poverty, dependency, and exclusion is perpetuated. The article discusses collective commercialisation and the micro-credit fund created among 30 recycling groups in the Brazilian city of São Paulo. A committee of eight women recyclers manages this fund. The article contextualises reflections on empowerment and community-based development, applying the theoretical framework of social and solidarity economy. The author finally suggests that inclusive governance structures have the potential to generate greater justice and sustainability.

  • This article discusses the ethical challenges posed to anthropologists working as experts in mining companies and in tourism and alternative solutions that are coherent with the ethical principles of their discipline.

  • A workshop was convened in February 2008 to identify the role of civil society organisations (CSOs) in the post-Paris Declaration aid agenda, prior to the High-Level Forum to review progress towards achieving aid harmonisation held in Accra in September 2008. The article highlights the many concerns about the focus on the mechanisms rather than the purpose or impacts of aid; the ways in which donors force through their own agendas; and the continuing gap between rhetoric and practice on issues such as gender equity and local ownership.

  • Experience from adaptive and community-based resource management suggests that building resilience into both human and ecological systems is an effective way to cope with environmental change. El Niño phenomena are increasingly signaled in advance of their onset. We argue that it is beneficial to heed warnings of potential harm and to intervene in society to possibly avert extreme negative ecological and social impacts which can trigger socio-political stress and widespread human suffering. The El Niño of 2004 in the island province of Bohol in the Philippines is used as an example of a successful intervention.

  • This study on the impact of fair trade relies on new field data from coffee and banana cooperatives in Peru and Costa Rica, including a detailed assessment of its welfare effects by comparing FT farmers with non-FT farmers as a benchmark. Attention is focused on three major effects: (a) direct tangible impact of FT arrangements on the income, welfare, and livelihoods of rural households; (b) indirect effects of fair trade for improving credit access, capital stocks, investments, and attitudes to risk; and (c) institutional implications of fair trade for farmers’ organisations and externalities for local and regional employment, bargaining, and trading conditions. Although direct net income effects remain fairly modest, important benefits are found to include capitalising farmers and strengthening their organisations.

  • Partnerships can achieve results but they do not develop smoothly.  Members must explore their differences before they can perform well together.  Some agencies look inwards at their own priorities and expect their partners to follow them.  This leads to a blend of cooperation and competition.  Other organisations turn outwards and look for partners who can contribute to shared results.  They see themselves as others seen them.  They do not look back to make sure that others are following.  This leads to a blend of mutual respoect and reciprocity which is as important for successs as finely honed memoranda of understanding.

  • The effects of counter-terrorism legislation on civil society organisations (CSOs) based in the South have received little attention in the wider literature. This article reports on the findings of a series of international workshops to examine the effects of such legislation held in Lebanon, the Kyrgyz Republic, India, the Netherlands, the UK, and the USA. The evidence presented at these workshops suggests that counter-terror legislation is undermining the work of civil society in complex and interrelated ways.

  • The Gender in Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Congress held in Manila 19–22 October 2008) was the Third Global Congress of Women in Politics and Governance. Its purpose was to provide a forum for decision makers to formulate gender-responsive programmes related to gender in climate change and disaster risk reduction (DRR). Over 200 people participated, including parliamentarians, representatives of environmental and women’s organisations, and donor agencies. Proceedings focused on the fact that climate change magnifies existing inequalities, in particular and gender inequality. The Congress issued the Manila Declaration for Global Action on Gender, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction.

  • Communication and its role in development and social change is still poorly understood and supported by large development players, despite decades of innovative practice and positive outcomes. Gaps between discourse and action, outdated evaluation methods, short timeframes, red tape, and power relations, combined with vertical and externally-driven communication models, and confusion between information and communication, all prevent development donors from giving support to participatory and community owned and managed communication initiatives. On the basis of decades of experience and observation, four key recommendations are made for transforming the communication profession both in higher education and in donor and development agencies.

  • While there is a near unanimity on the need for participation, there is as yet no such agreement on the type and degree of participation to be adopted in projects. One thing that has never been doubted is the fact that local people have not been accorded their rightful recognition and respect by most intervention agencies, hence the failure of some projects. So, how does a project that seeks to address issues of citizenship, participation, and accountability using a variety of participatory methodologies fare, especially against the backdrop of a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and politically complex society like Nigeria? This paper examines the use of these methodologies, highlighting issues drawn out, and the successes and limitations of the findings for future research. Effective as the methods appeared to be, there were many questions and issues unanswered beyond the immediate mandate of the project, which beg for attention in order for the communities to move towards genuine development and stop open display of sometimes misplaced aggression.

  • This article makes a case for using participatory communication in research. It introduces participatory communication as a citizen-led approach to both creating and expressing knowledge; within research this means that researchers are not simply responsible for generating information and communicating about it, neither are they acting alone. From this perspective the emphasis of participatory communication is on communicating rather than extracting or delivering information. Participatory methods can communicate research findings in new ways and add depth and meaning to articulations of knowledge. This knowledge can easily get ‘lost in translation’ when findings are synthesised or communicated though conventional research outputs alone.

  • In spite of its long history on different countries, ‘citizens communication for social change’ is little known in Spanish academic and social institutions, so few communication professionals know how to address and undertake in-depth planning of communication for development. Since the 1990s, there is still a growing need to build truly participative communication in Spanish society. This article describes the main reasons for this widespread ignorance and offers a small ‘cartography’ of the field in order to advance towards a full recognition of the sector in Spain.

  • Social movements have generated interest in development circles since the mid-1990s as relatively independent expressions of civil society, mobilising people to set their own development priorities and agendas for issues as diverse as water privatisation, neo-liberal trade policies, the rights of women and indigenous peoples, and access to HIV anti-retroviral treatment. In the case of HIV and AIDS, independent civil-society initiative has been key to successful responses. Social movements of people living with HIV and AIDS, gay men, women, sex workers, and people who inject drugs have developed innovative institutions and responses to HIV and AIDS, and organised against stigma and discrimination. By bringing people together and advocating effectively, social movements have amplified voices of people most affected by HIV, enabling them to influence governments and decision makers.

  • Among processes towards democratisation, it has been asserted that alternative radio has a central role in the citizen making of the poor. However, it is important to analyse in detail what possibilities an alternative or citizens’ radio has to strengthen ideas of citizenship and transform the public space into a critical and deliberative public in urban sites. This paper focuses on one local Catholic radio station in Huaycan, a shantytown in the outskirts of Lima. It describes the radio’s journalistic work, showing examples of how they mobilise local leaders and monitor democratic processes, such as municipal elections and the district’s participatory budget. In addition, it shows how the public uses the radio to channel their claims. It also identifies the factors that prevent the radio from fully empowering the public and transforming public space into a more critical and democratic one.

  • This paper seeks to understand the restrictions media actors face in their day-to-day work in Acholiland, northern Uganda, and identify the strategies they adopt to maintain a space for dialogue and debate. Two case studies reveal that it is difficult to see how media actors in this conflict environment can play a significant role in holding the ruling government to account and promoting peace building when they are facing repressive media laws, intimidation, a lack of information, and weak managerial support. This paper calls for policies to support the daily struggles of media actors, such as the adoption of the African Peer Review Mechanism – an instrument used for self-monitoring by participant countries of New Partnership for Africa’s Development. Thus, the investigation turns away from questions of censorship to investigating what can be done to support the daily struggles of media actors who are constantly negotiating their way through a labyrinth of restrictions.

  • Community media represent a crucial input in development processes, playing an important role in democratisation, social struggles, and awareness raising. But they often face difficulties on the financial and legal levels due to the constraints created by national media laws. This paper shows the link between community communication and human development. It provides suggestions for development advocates and communities regarding advocacy for a policy environment supportive of community media. It reflects on the licensing process and financial sustainability of the projects. In demonstrating how practically media policy can be reshaped to meet civil society needs, two case studies are considered: the UK, where the communication regulator has opened a process to license community radios; and Brazil, where thousands of ‘illegal’ community stations are facing repression, but where the regulator has inaugurated a consultation process with practitioners.

  • Mobile cellular phones have already been used widely around the world for activism, social and economic development, and new cultural and communicative forms. Despite this widespread use of mobile phones, they remain a relatively un-theorised and un-discussed phenomenon in community and citizen’s media. This paper considers how mobile phones have been taken up by citizens to create new forms of expression and power. The specific focus is the use of mobile phones in community development, with examples including the Grameenphone, agriculture and markets, the Filipino diasporic community, HIV/AIDS healthcare, and mobile phones in activism and as media. It is argued that mobile phones form a contact zone between traditional concepts of community and citizen media, on the one hand, and emerging movements in citizenship, democracy, governance, and development, on the other hand

  • This article uses the example of a mobile mixed-media platform – a converted three-wheeled auto-rickshaw – in Sri Lanka in order to explore whether and how content-creation activities can enable marginalised communities to have a voice. It draws upon research into participatory content-creation activities conducted in 15 locations across India, Indonesia, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. The main findings are: the need to pay attention to context when thinking about what might be locally appropriate, relevant, and beneficial in terms of participatory content creation; the benefits that can be gained from creatively reaching out to and engaging marginalised groups and encouraging a diversity of voices; the usefulness of locally produced content for generating local debate around local issues; and the benefits of encouraging participation at all stages of content creation, so that content is locally meaningful and might lead to positive social change.

  • The synergies created through the careful application of both organic and symbolic communication demonstrably reach those most vulnerable to the spread and impact of HIV and AIDS. The Clown Project uses labour-intensive face-to-face street theatre and dialogue, participatory workshops, and symbolic communication such as print-based materials. Some lessons learned in selected communities in Guatemala and other countries in Central America are shared. The paper puts forward an argument in favour of careful and critical analysis of culture in formulating communication strategies with and for specific groups. This analysis takes into account relations of power within and between vulnerable groups, examining the centre–periphery dynamic between classes, genders, ethnicities, age groups, and other social identities. Both appropriately supported insider perspectives and appropriately processed outsider knowledge are recommended, along with ways of bridging science and the field, theory and practice.

  • Citizens’ media and communication are still poorly understood in the mainstream of development policy and practice – and are prone to simplistic forms of implementation, because of the lack of a coherent grasp of the social, cultural, and political processes that make them transformative. Introducing the articles in this guest issue, the authors find that citizens’ media is about more than bringing diverse voices into pluralist politics: it contributes to processes of social and cultural construction, redefining norms and power relations that exclude people. Local ownership and control of their own media can allow people to reshape the spaces in which their voices find expression.

  • Given the centrality of communication to society, who ‘owns’ the media, who gets to speak on behalf of whom, and to what end are critical issues. The regression of ‘mainstream’ media from ‘watchdogs’ of democracies to business ventures resulting in Habermasian ‘refeudalisation of the public sphere’ is worrying. Community media re-engage communities on the periphery, opening possibilities for social change. The dominance of mainstream players in media governance, complicated by sustainability concerns of grassroots enterprises, result in legislation that impedes the potentiality of community media access and participation – as mapped in this paper with the case of community radio struggle in India.

  • The communication practices of three US anti-poverty groups in the San Francisco Bay Area – Coalition on Homelessness, Poor News Network, and Media Alliance – are discussed whose communication strategies work for the recognition and rights of low-income and homeless people, and for policies to better redistribute economic and communications resources. In the wake of media closures in the local public sphere, and major restructuring of social welfare programmes, these groups’ creative and engaged communication strategies empower poor people and support the building of counter-public spheres working in interaction with, and as alternatives to, dominant media spheres.

  • The radio can help to stimulate better governance. However, state-run broadcasting organisations in the South are usually ill-prepared for their public-service role in new democracies. They are often poorly funded compared to their new, commercial rivals and often still bound by the same ‘rules of the game’ that governed them prior to the democratic era. Broadcasters typically remain accountable to government and not to their listeners, and promote the interests and agendas of the political elite. This paper focuses on the experiences of DFID support to a radio programme in northern Nigeria that sought to improve communication and debate between the government and the electorate. It argues that there are legitimate circumstances for development partners to engage with state-controlled media outlets, not least in rural areas where commercial broadcasters lack the financial incentive to establish stations and provide programming that has relevance to the poor. The authors critically examine the lessons learned from DFID’s support and identify measures that could assist similar initiatives in the future

  • The article examines the notion of development as self-determination in the context of current politicisation of indigenous peoples’ affairs. It looks at the links between development studies, indigenous social movements, and community media practices; and more specifically between specific views on development, self-determination, and identity, and how these terms become embodied in specific media-making (video) practices. The article summarises two case studies of indigenous media production in a transnational context: the UNESCO-funded project Information and Communications Technologies for Intercultural Dialogue: Developing Communication Capacities of Indigenous People (ICT4ID), and the emergence and consolidation of CLACPI, a network of indigenous media producers in Latin America.

  • An Action Learning process integrated with Sen’s Capability Approach can support development agencies to formulate interventions that enhance freedom. The authors show that putting this approach into practice has important implications for the manner in which ‘development’ is undertaken as an ideological project. It may help to examine and challenge those who hold power in development—the guardians. This finding is the result of an emergent Action Learning process that was initiated by applying Sen’s principles to focus-group interviews with women who care for people affected by HIV and AIDS. One of the findings of these focus groups was that the participants valued the process because it opened a space for them to influence the work of the implementing NGO. Essentially, they could hold the implementing agency to account. Reflection on this outcome by the agency led to important shifts in processes that are more supportive of freedom.

  • This article examines the changing status of villagers’ knowledge, perceptions, and attitudes towards gender roles and gender relations over time. Data were collected from eastern part of Bangladesh through survey and in-depth interviews. Findings show that knowledge about discrimination, empowerment, violence against women, and marital issues increased remarkably and attitudes on those issues including general perceptions towards men and women changed positively but not change much as expected. Traditional patriarchal norms, values, culture, and social structures still were recognised as barrier to gender equality.

  • This article presents results of a quantitative/qualitative enquiry into ‘transformative learning’ and ‘mind-change’ dynamics among rural community representatives participating in the Government of Afghanistan’s National Solidarity Programme [NSP]: a community-driven, nationwide initiative to rehabilitate the country’s infrastructure. Drawing on frameworks for ‘transformative learning’ proposed by Mezirow (1990) and Freire (1993), and ‘mind-change’ proposed by Gardner (2004), it is argued that NSP catalysed transformative development learning through (1) its responsiveness to the expressed needs and interests of project participants; (2) engagement of community representatives as active development partners; (3) delegation of project management responsibility throughout all stages; (4) provision of social space for reflection and critical analysis; (5) opportunities to achieve project outcomes that are meaningful, attractive, and profitable; and (6) programme features compatible with the social and cultural realities of rural Afghanistan.

  • This article examines the impact of NGO professionalisation on who works in NGOs and why. Based on an in-depth survey of employees in 20 advocacy NGOs in Jordan, it demonstrates the gendered impact of professionalisation. The majority of NGO employees are highly educated women, often Western educated, who work in NGOs primarily for career opportunities and because they are drawn by the NGO's goals. In contrast to existing literature, this article argues that gender considerations, such as job flexibility to accommodate household duties, play less of a role in determining why women seek work in NGOs and their job satisfaction.

  • This ethnographic case study addresses the question of how women in Jopadhola patriarchal society in Eastern Uganda remember three decades of civil war and violence and survived its aftermath. When the war ended, little changed for these women, who are still exposed to a continuum of gender-based violence and continue to use the same tactics that, during the war, enabled them to somehow live with their suffering. The Mifumi Project, an indigenous NGO founded by one of the women whose life history was recorded for this article, has started to assist Jopadhola women to improve the quality of their present-day lives. By rebuilding their human and social capital, this NGO is also creating the space for women to heal their war memories.

  • This article looks at the experience of privatised urban water supply and sewerage services in Turkey, focusing on the case of three cities that have opted for such privatisation. The article opens with an examination of the management of urban water and sewerage services in Turkey, and explores the development of water services and water policies in local government institutions. The second section introduces case studies of cities that have transferred the management, operation, and maintenance of urban water services to private operators.

  • This article highlights lessons learned from field research and related analysis, to address three fundamental aspects of development that are often overlooked: culture and governance, inclusive development, and market-based approaches. All three cases address issues of poverty and inequality. In addition, the critical role of institutions in governance and development is also highlighted. Finally, by bridging the gap between culture, economy, and society through these approaches, better and more effective development policies and programmes can be formulated and implemented.

  • This is a case study of an integral local development project combining elements of agro-ecology, fair trade and risk-conservative finance operated in partnership between a grassroots and promoter organization. We conclude that insurance is a key element in the transition from a traditional rural household economic unit to a family enterprise. We reflect on the need for, and limits of development projects to meet the complexity of structural poverty. The text concludes with an exhortation to value experimentation in development practice, with ethical responsibility, and in terms that can be shared in the larger public arena.

  • This article outlines a comprehensive approach to facilitating the transfer of research into practice. It encompasses three main issues of importance: activities should be seen as part of a long-term endeavour rather than isolated one-off events; there are many audiences which may make use of the research findings in various ways; and there are many modes in which the process can be facilitated.

  • Understanding local variability in context and mobilising local participation to define development agendas are widely accepted development strategies. There remain, hoUnderstanding local variability in context and mobilising local participation to define development agendas are widely accepted development strategies. There remain, however, significant challenges to the systematic and effective inclusion of local communities and households. Projeto MAPLAN, a pilot project in Ceara, Brazil, is a joint effort of the public sector and civil society designed to create a process of participatory development planning which integrates local-level contextual variations. In this effort, the use of a Participatory Geographic Information System (PGIS) stimulates the participation of community members in analysing their needs, goals, and priorities. The visualisation of these factors through easily understood maps facilitates communication and contributes to a democratic and transparent planning process, thus permitting the articulation of local priorities with the state-level planning apparatus. MAPLAN represents part of a shifting paradigm for rural development planning in the state and provides the tools for the effective inclusion of citizen voice in development policywever, significant challenges to the systematic and effective inclusion of local communities and households. Projeto MAPLAN, a pilot project in Cear

  • The Tibet Poverty Alleviation Fund (TPAF) has been working in the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China since 1998 to increase the income and assets of rural Tibetans. From the beginning TPAF recognised that high morbidity and mortality were a constraint on efforts of rural Tibetans to improve livelihoods. Early interventions to train township doctors and midwives were not sustainable. In 2005, in partnership with local health authorities, TPAF launched a Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) strategy to build villagers’ capacity to improve health and hygiene practices and to make informed choices about using Government primary and preventive health services. Results from counties and townships in three Prefectures are preliminary but show significant changes in health knowledge and practice and growing links between village needs and Government services. Next steps include strengthening implementation and institutionalising Government support to extending and supporting the approach.

  • This article reviews experiences of implementing empowerment interventions in Tanzania. Data are based on field visits to programmes, projects, and organisations involved in implementing empowerment interventions in various regions in the country. These visits involved key informant interviews, sample surveys, and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with farmers. The review highlights the perceptions of empowerment at project staff and practioner/beneficiary levels, as well as the approaches used by various organisations/projects in implementing empowerment activities. Furthermore, the article discusses the factors perceived to lead to empowerment as well as its consequences.

  • Huge amounts are being invested in information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as mobile phones and their telecommunications infrastructure. Development agencies provide a conventional view on the ‘climate’ needed to encourage such investment; particularly that good governance and security are required. We question this conventional view with a study of mobile telecommunications in three insecure states that score very badly in the Worldwide Governance Indicators. Data are limited but suggest insecurity and ‘bad governance’ may not be the barriers to investment that are normally supposed. Indeed, it is possible—at least for this type of digital technology—that they may encourage investment.

  • On 29 August 2008, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee (WHC) and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) co-organised a one-day seminar entitled ‘World Heritage and Public Works: Development Cooperation for Poverty Alleviation’, held at the United Nations University in Tokyo. The seminar focused on the role of World Heritage Sites in development and poverty alleviation, balancing public works that sustain community life and preservation of World Heritage properties, and the role of development cooperation – especially international finance organisations – in culture and development projects.

  • This article reports on the tenth anniversary conference of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), drawing attention to the irony that just as progress is being made on the situation of home workers (among the least protected of all working people) the two organisations that have done so much to raise awareness of these issues themselves face closure for lack of funding.

  • In English only

  • This article examines the semantic evolution of the term Community Development (CD) in the latter twentieth century. It is argued that CD has acquired different meanings, theoretical grounding, and practical application starting with a focus on traditional societies up to the 1960s, social and/or civil rights movements up to 1980s, and the modern middle class from the 1990s. The thrust of argument is that the concept is not cohesive and unified but represents a repertoire of meanings that encompass many shades of CD that are not necessarily mutually compatible but reflect the particular political and social practices in the contexts in which they occur.

  • Concerns about gender equity have been at the fore of discussions and analysis of NGO interventions and action since the 1970s. Gender equity, defined as equal rights to access, opportunity, and participation for men and women, has always been a distinctive feature in the programmes of Gram Vikas, a leading NGO in the Indian state of Orissa. Conscious efforts to identify and address these issues began in the mid-1980s. Several specific initiatives have been made to create a level playing field between women and men in the village communities where Gram Vikas works, and within the organisation. There have been resistances and challenges to several of these interventions, and while some of them have embedded themselves to create lasting impact, others have had only limited effect.

  • This article discusses the process of transforming partnership from a conceptual framework into a practical, operational framework for field-level interaction among humanitarian organisations. The authors approach this transformation from the perspective of the core values of the partnership concept and the ability of field workers to behave in ways that are consistent with these core values, illustrated by an empirical study of the relationships between the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and NGOs in a refuge-assistance programme in northern Uganda. The authors connect inter-organisational structures with the role of people charged with making partnership work, concluding that the structures and context in which individuals operate make it impossible for them to ‘act out’ the core values of partnership. By identifying the major challenges to creating field-level, operational partnerships, the authors offer lessons for current and future partnership-building initiatives, such as the Global Humanitarian Platform.

  • The article offers a reflective analysis of various problems encountered and lessons learned in implementing a programme to improve the livelihood security of the urban poor in Bangladesh. The study is based on the author’s involvement as an external action-research partner and a review of the literature. The key lessons for success are identified as (i) a clear understanding by all staff of the links between project activities and project objectives; (ii) building staff capacity that is tailored to their needs; (iii) clear targeting criteria and programme coverage; (iv) having all the necessary operational guidelines, workplans, and M&E design before implementation; (v) ensuring ‘partnership of organisations’ not ‘partnership of activities’; (vi) ensuring the real involvement of beneficiaries in all aspects of the project; (vii) staff ‘empowerment’ and a ‘flexible approach’ to operations is more rewarding; (viii) conducting routine reflections on project progress, and finally (ix) being sufficiently bold to make necessary strategic changes even if this means deviating from pre-set activities and hypothetical schedules laid down in the project proposals.

  • Crop genetic diversity and poverty are linked: first, resource-poor farmers often maintain genetic diversity; and second, crop diversity, when properly valued by the market, has the potential to alleviate poverty. This article examines this supposition based on three case studies of the intersection of the market with poverty and maize diversity in Mexico. These cases suggest that the bulk market for maize offers little room for maize landraces (local maize varieties known as criollo maize), in that it does not reward qualitative variation in maize grain, and instead presents incentives that make planting ‘improved’ maize germplasm the rational economic choice for small-scale farmers. Meanwhile, attempts to add value to maize landraces via market differentiation have had varying success. Although there is potential for differentiated markets to contribute to successful business models and poverty alleviation, these cases exhibit tradeoffs between product consistency, investment of labour and resources, and genetic diversity conservation.

  • This article reports on research into the impacts of micro-finance on gender roles, the extent to which socio-cultural factors influence these changes, and how such changes affect the well-being of rural Bogoso households in the Wassa West District of Ghana. Findings indicated that micro-finance has changed men’s and women’s control over decisions and resource allocations, which consequently affected financial responsibilities and education of children, and largely contributed to household well-being. However, the small size of the loans was a limitation. The article concludes that socio-cultural factors may promote or inhibit well-being in rural households, and that micro-finance is not a sufficient tool in itself to promote women’s and household’s well-being. It is recommended that if rural people’s well-being matters, collaborative efforts in the appraisal, monitoring and evaluation of micro-finance initiatives, with the government providing leadership, are imperative.

  • A variety of interventions to mitigate the increasing impact of the HIV and AIDS epidemic on smallholder agricultural production and food security are currently implemented in sub-Saharan Africa. However, documentation and dissemination of such interventions is limited and patchy. Building on emerging experiences from the field, this article seeks to move beyond charting the impacts of HIV and AIDS on rural livelihoods and to review existing mitigation policies and programmes, identify the challenges to mitigation, and provide suggestions for future mitigation strategies and policy priorities. The experiences cited in the article are mainly drawn from the hardest hit Southern and Eastern African regions, but these provide useful lessons for AIDS-affected rural communities in other contexts. The main conclusion is that, as current initiatives are to a large extent ad hoc and localised, there is a need for documentation, dissemination, and scaling up of existing interventions, as well as greater coherence and coordination in policies and programmes to extend their reach and make the most of limited resources.

  • This article examines the role of free-trade agreements that integrate profoundly asymmetrical economies in simultaneously benefiting the more powerful nation and exacerbating inequalities within and between the countries involved. The latest in a series of such agreements in the Americas, the Dominican Republic and Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) opens up the economies of these small nations to US investment and exports, as multinational companies are able take advantage of lower production costs and weak labour legislation. In the global economy, South–South trade agreements offer a far better alternative for countries with weak institutions and little economic or political leverage.

  • Adequate pricing of environmental goods is essential for the sustainable management of natural resources. It is not easy, however, to place a value on natural resources as the excludability problem makes it difficult to protect natural resources from unpaid use and to exercise property rights over them. This article discusses the achievements and limitations of current natural resource policies from the perspective of view of efficiency and equity. It argues that a trust fund operating via market-based transactions is a promising approach to help achieve simultaneously the goals of efficiency, sustainability, and poverty reduction, provided that property rights over the environmental resources are distributed fairly within current generations as well as between present and future generations.

  • In recent years understanding of poverty and of ways in which people escape from or fall into poverty has become more holistic. This should improve the capabilities of policy analysts and others working to reduce poverty, but it also makes analysis more complex. This article describes a simple schema which integrates multidimensional, multilevel, and dynamic understandings of poverty, of poor people’s livelihoods, and of changing roles of agricultural systems. The article suggests three broad types of strategy pursued by poor people: ‘hanging in’; ‘stepping up’; and ‘stepping out’. This simple schema explicitly recognises the dynamic aspirations of poor people; diversity among them; and livelihood diversification. It also brings together aspirations of poor people with wider sectoral, inter-sectoral, and macro-economic questions about policies necessary for realisation of those aspirations.

  • The development of a cadastral system for the Republic of Guatemala was one of the priorities of the 1997 Peace Accord that ended 30 years of civil war. While uncertainty of land ownership and land title are contentious issues, the development of a national cadastre, equitable land distribution, and land tenancy are viewed as key to maintaining peace in Guatemala. This article addresses the most significant barriers to developing a National Land Information System used to support cadastral reform. Findings from interviews with government agencies indicate that while technical improvements can be readily implemented, social factors associated with NGO and government interaction, diffusion of equitable government policy towards land rights, and the costs of the land-registration process seriously hinder the completion of the cadastral process. These findings are discussed in light of international aid and development policy.

  • In recent years understanding of poverty and of ways in which people escape from or fall into poverty has become more holistic. This should improve the capabilities of policy analysts and others working to reduce poverty, but it also makes analysis more complex. This article describes a simple schema which integrates multidimensional, multilevel, and dynamic understandings of poverty, of poor people’s livelihoods, and of changing roles of agricultural systems. The article suggests three broad types of strategy pursued by poor people: ‘hanging in’; ‘stepping up’; and ‘stepping out’. This simple schema explicitly recognises the dynamic aspirations of poor people; diversity among them; and livelihood diversification. It also brings together aspirations of poor people with wider sectoral, inter-sectoral, and macro-economic questions about policies necessary for realisation of those aspirations.

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  • This article challenges the terms on which donor agencies evaluate development success, drawing on a particular case to make its point. It describes the resettlement of 60,000 people squatting along the railway tracks in Mumbai, a process planned and carried out by a federation of the railway dwellers themselves, with support from the NGO SPARC (the Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres). The article argues that this effort, which met donor criteria for a successful project, was the tip of an iceberg. Without an appreciation of the years of learning and innovation that preceded it, and the underpinning of principles and relationships built up over many years, this achievement cannot be adequately assessed or understood - and certainly not replicated. Yet in the world of formal assessment and evaluation, there tends to be a lack of interest in the deeper learning about social change that makes such success stories possible.

  • All over Gaya District in Bihar, irrespective of a person's caste or economic status, irrigation is the overriding topic of concern on public platforms and in private conversations. In the absence of adequate government action, different kinds of community endeavour are emerging to answer the need, some supported by radical political movements, others by organisations of a religious persuasion, and still others primarily by prominent local citizens.

  • Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR) has been adopted in many countries to help disabled people. This article analyses the interplay between CBR and the self-alienation of physically disabled women from their communities. In-depth interviews with 40 women with physical disabilities in northern Thailand found that CBR was barely capable of enabling women with physical disabilities to realise their sense of self within their community, because in itself CBR was unable to change the community's false impression of disability. Despite participating in CBR programmes, the self-alienation of physically disabled women from their community remained; the authors argue that this was due to the heavy reliance of CBR on medical practice, ignoring gender as a major contributing factor. In addition, CBR field workers obviously failed to grasp the magnitude of social models in disability rehabilitation.

  • This article analyses in detail the impact and effectiveness of peer-education projects implemented in Cambodia under the Reproductive Health Initiative for Asia (RHI), in an attempt to provide important lessons for the design and implementation of such interventions and to contribute to the development of best practice. Under RHI, which was the first programme in Cambodia designed specifically to address the sexual and reproductive health needs of young people, peer education was implemented as if it were a directly transferable method, rather than a process to be rooted in specific social and political contexts. Consequently, peer-education concepts of empowerment and participation conflicted with hierarchical traditions and local power relations concerning gender and poverty; peer educators were trained to deliver messages developed by adults; and interventions were not designed to reflect the social dynamics of youth peer groups.

  • Engaging with and assisting marginalised communities remains a major challenge for governments of developing countries, as many national development strategies tend in practice to further marginalise chronically poor communities. Development aid strategies, including poverty-reduction initiatives, have focused primarily on economic development. As a result they have contributed to the erosion of the asset base of these communities, and in particular their access to natural resources. While questioning the impact of aid arrangements on the poorest and most vulnerable communities in society, this article recognises that current aid arrangements, such as national poverty-reduction strategies, have created an environment in which chronic poverty can be addressed by national governments and other stakeholders. The authors emphasise the need for greater sensitivity in the processes of planning and managing national development strategies that seek to reduce poverty, as well as a commitment to institutional arrangements that include marginalised groups in the country's political economy.


  • The World Bank and IMF have proposed the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) framework for all poor countries as a condition of receiving unconditional debt relief under the HIPC Initiative. The PRSPs will also be the key vehicle for the World Bank and IMF and other donors for various assistance packages, including loans. Like its predecessors, the PRSP framework promotes the ideas of 'participation' and 'ownership'. This article argues that ownership of such a grand framework cannot possibly rest with the poor countries or their people if the whole idea is the product of World Bank and IMF think-tanks. It discusses participation in the development of Bangladesh's PRSP and argues that neither participation nor ownership was the target in preparing a national poverty-reduction strategy: they were merely necessary components of a document required for the continuation of debt and lending relationships with the World Bank and IMF.

  • This article examines the inadequate delivery of social services by city governments in Nigeria. It identifies three problems: lack of transparency and accountability in governance; under-qualified staff and administration; and the tenuous relationship (an 'us' versus 'them' dichotomy) between the urban residents and local governments. It can no longer be argued that lack of funds is the key constraint.

  • Good governance is essential for sustaining economic transformation in developing countries. However, many developing countries currently lack the capacity, as opposed to the will, to achieve and then sustain a climate of good governance. This article addresses, from a practitioner's field perspective, the fundamental objectives, principles, and key areas that need to be addressed for developing capacity for good governance. These frameworks are now beginning to be recognised, as both governments and donor institutions attempt to take advantage of the current demand and opportunities for addressing governance deficits. In pursuing capacity development for good governance, developing countries must ensure that such initiatives are comprehensively designed to be simultaneously related to change and transformation at the individual, institutional, and societal levels and to be owned and controlled locally.

  • Much internal migration in India, including the states of Rajasthan and Orissa, is distress-led. Previously issues pertaining to gender were overlooked, because migration tended to be viewed as chiefly a male movement, with women either residual in the process, or dependent followers. Contemporary migration is taking place in a world marked by a deeper belief in the importance of equality of opportunity across socio-political divides. This article stresses the need to analyse migration through the differential experiences of women and of men in the context of a highly gendered world.

  • An approach to establishing improved private extension-service provision for smallholder horticultural producers in Kenya was developed between 2003 and 2005 by the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology and Natural Resources Institute in the UK, in collaboration with EurepGAP FoodPLUS GmbH and the House of Quality-South Africa, international NGOs, export companies, and out-grower farmer groups. The approach focused on good agricultural practices, food safety, EU regulations on maximum pesticide-residue limits, and the EurepGAP Standard. The approach is not a blueprint, but the lessons learned are applicable to similar smallholder production systems in other African countries.

  • A common challenge faces development organisations, from the highest policy-making circles to local, grassroots organisations: how to work with other groups to build stronger partnerships and achieve consensus on goals? This article describes the Net-Map Toolbox, a new tool which builds and expands upon existing social-networking approaches. The article highlights the experience of using the Toolbox with the White Volta Basin Board in Ghana, a multi-stakeholder organisation responsible for overseeing local water resources. The authors discuss how the Net-Map Toolbox can assist members of development-oriented organisations to better understand and interact with each other in situations where many different actors can influence the outcome.

  • Recognising that the stance of investigators could make a major impact on the quality and/or interpretation of development-study findings, a small investigation to explore researcher positions and roles was implemented. This was a subsidiary component of a larger health-development study which aimed to explore the evidence base for psychosocial and mental-health policy formulation and implementation in two conflict-affected, low-resourced countries. Five of the research team were interviewed by a sixth member in an open, semi-structured interview format, and the data were analysed thematically. The primary learning for the team, with wider implications for others in development research and practice, is that if the aim is to produce credible findings from investigations of this nature, it is important to exhibit a high degree of transparency regarding the role and position of each researcher, and an explicit attempt to be reflexive in relation to the associated challenges.