Keeping the last in mind: incorporating Chambers in consulting

Many readers will be familiar with the work of Robert Chambers, including his six biases of the development professional - namely spatial, project, person, seasonal, diplomatic, and professional - and with his suggestions for overcoming them. Many will also be familiar with the challenge of putting his advice into practice, notably on short-term assignments. The question asked here is whether the consultant can do anything constructive about those who are last on the development ladder; and in so doing render the invisible just a bit more visible. This article provides four illustrations taken from the authors experiences in Mozambique, Malawi, Bangladesh, and Zimbabwe. All involve attempts to partially apply Chambers ideas. All are modest in ambition, scale, and scope. The main purpose of describing these cases is to stimulate discussion of the possibilities of incorporating the ideas of participatory and inclusive development processes within the unpromising confines of the two- or three-week assignment.