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TitleSpecial issue on participatory tools and methods in urban areas
Publication TypeMiscellaneous
Year of Publication1994
AuthorsInternational Institute for Environment and Development -London, GB, IIED
Secondary TitleRRA notes / IIED
Volumeno. 21
Pagination100 p.: fig., tab.
Date Published1994-01-01
PublisherInternational Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)
Place PublishedLondon, UK
Keywordscase studies, community participation, evaluation methods, low-income communities, participatory methods, participatory rural appraisals, rapid rural appraisals, urban areas

This special issue of RRA Notes compiled by the Human Settlement and Sustainable Agriculture Programmes of IIED (International Institute for Environment and Development) focuses on the use of participatory methodologies for research and project implementation in cities and towns. An introductory section discusses the problem of applying participatory approaches, based on Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), in urban communities. A starting point for many of the papers is the assumption that urban is "different". Despite clear economic, social and environmental differences between low-income rural and urban communities, it is agreed that they not only have many aspects in common but also that rural and urban are inextricably linked. Therefore the use of participatory approaches and methods (PAM) within an urban context is not seen as being so dramatically different from their use in complex and diverse rural areas. In the past, the rural-urban divide has inhibited the flow of ideas, information and methodology between rural and urban practitioners but this special issue of RRA Notes is an attempt to overcome this divide. In considering the range and scope of the papers included it is noted that they all focus on how PAM enables development organizations to work more effectively with low-income urban communities. They cover the various dimensions of geographic location - both North and South, some are rural and some urban in origin, and some discuss the link between top-down and bottom-up approaches.
It is evident that, in the urban context, there is an overlap of issues and strategies between North and South. Two papers touch on the Northern perspective, concentrating on conceptual issues relating to PAM in general. Another paper examines a pilot programme in 12 countries developed from low-income public housing estates in the United Kingdom, based on the "Planning for Real" methodology. Tools included in this methodology have also been used for projects to develop community participation in Sri Lanka, South Africa and India. In addition to themes that link North and South, the papers include community development experiences from Africa, Asia and Latin America. These show that there is a tradition of community-based urban development efforts involving PAM and innovative applications, about which all too little is known. One example is collectively redesigning houses and settlements in Brazil and Chile. Contributors examine programmes initiated by NGOs, government agencies and official agencies. Two NGO programmes in Mexico City illustrate how a participatory action research approach can influence and improve development planning in low-income urban communities; and a collaboration project between slum dweller organizations in South Africa and India has resulted in community-based shelter training programmes. One paper discusses government involvement in Sri Lanka to involve communities in neighbourhood development. The role of official agencies is discussed in a paper dealing with the establishment of a National Programme for West African Integrated Development of Artisanal Fisheries.
In many cases techniques for PAM in rural development activities have been adapted to urban situations. One paper describes a slum improvement programme adapted for use in five cities in India; a second outlines a food-for-work programme. Some PRA approaches have been adapted for training and research purposes rather than as an integral component of a community development programme. Two examples are an action learning approach which has been developed into public administration training in India, and the application of PRA in an urban public health context in the Dominican Republic. Two papers illustrate the increasing use of PRA approaches for rapid assessment of urban poverty issues. One deals with the use of Rapid Urban Appraisal to channel aid to the poor in Ethiopia; the other describes the use of Rapid Rural Appraisal to prepare World Bank Country Poverty Assessments in Ghana and Zambia. Strategies to link local level development planning with higher level planning structures through the use of PAM are also highlighted. Many urban development programmes recognize the necessity of community involvement, and government agencies see the value of using participatory tools and methods to realize their broad objectives. PAM can also help empower local groups and help them organize a means of resistance to thwart negative government policies.
Lessons emerging from the contributions of both PRA practioners and urban development agents in this issue include the fact that the lack of documentation of PAM used in an urban context may have delayed the development of such approaches, and that an exchange of ideas between urban and rural practitioners would be beneficial in breaking down the institutional divisions between urban and rural that has compartmentalized the development process with regard to participatory methodologies.

NotesIncludes references
Custom 1125, 155.2


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