Participatory Development: An Investigation of In-Community Stakeholders' Perceptions
Date of Degree
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Norman St. Clair
The purpose of this qualitative case study was to investigate the in-community stakeholders' perceptions of the participatory process in development projects.
Participatory approaches and methods have been justified as a prerequisite to, and a catalyst for, sustainable socioeconomic development. The process has been adopted and applied in a variety of development contexts by international development agencies. Participation entails the involvement of in-community stakeholders in the initiation, implementation, and evaluation of development interventions and policies that are designed to change their lives. Although many development agencies are increasingly adopting participatory processes for development, critics question whether popular participation is not another form of "top-down" approach to development that restricts participation to outside experts and local elites and keeps the beneficiaries of development projects in the abstract as socioeconomic indicators. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to investigate the in-community stakeholders' perceptions of the participatory process in development projects. The study investigated women participants of the Bukoba Women's Empowerment Association (BUWEA) in rural Tanzania. The study utilized the Freirean dialogical approach that begins from a deep respect and humility before the poor and oppressed people and a respect for their understanding of the world they inhabit. It considers their contributions no less important than the knowledge of the dominant groups. The study revealed that the women were aware of the participatory process and that the process, as initiated by the external stakeholders, had led to the success of many economic-development projects and created a sense of empowerment. As the participants reflected on what they perceived to be participation, their voices revealed a local contextual understanding of the participation process. The results further indicated that in order to have meaningful dialogue in development, it is important that the voices and knowledge of the rural poor are listened to and taken into account. The study concluded that when the rural poor are increasingly involved in the process of developing themselves at the various stages of development, capabilities and capacities are increased, which enable them to own and manage their destinies in collaboration with external stakeholders.
Sseruwagi, Gerald K., "Participatory Development: An Investigation of In-Community Stakeholders' Perceptions" (2012). Theses & Dissertations. 262.