Problematising the community-contribution requirement in participatory projects: evidence from Kyrgyzstan

This article examines the extent to which the World Bank-funded Village Investment Project in Kyrgyzstan promoted empowered participation of citizens in co-financing arrangements. It is based on in-depth qualitative interviews and focus-group sessions in 16 rural communities. The study found that the poor and marginalised did not always have the ability to engage in the processes of consensus building, influencing local decision making, and exercising free choice with regard to the contribution requirement. Participatory projects must carefully design arrangements and operational procedures for the co-financing component of the project, in order to support citizen empowerment and democratic inclusion.