who we are participation: our vision about faqs credits course
participation: our vision @ 

resources  > library - field tools - lessons learned
interact  > news - contact us - mailing list - discussion
about > participation: our vision - who we are - faq - credits - course
links  > websites - organisations - sustainable livelihoods

Course: Participatory Project Formulation



Key Concepts




Scope of Action

Project Cycle


Approaches to

Rapid Rural

Participatory Rural

Participatory Action Research

Principles, Attitudes

Project Cycle

Type of Participatory

Application of participatory tools in the different project stages

Sector Specific Use
of Participatory Tools

List of Documents


Strong or weak

Stakeholder analysis




Exercise:  Stakeholder analysis

(time required: 130 minutes)


Phase 1. Plenary work (20 minutes)
  1. Read the Hopeland Case Study (Handout 4). (5 minutes)
  2. The facilitator leads a brainstorming session and the group makes a list of possible stakeholders from the case study. The facilitator invites a volunteer to record the group ideas on a flipchart. (10 minutes)
  3. The facilitator consolidates and generates a list of stakeholders with the assistance of the volunteer. (5 minutes) 

Phase 2. Group work (40 minutes)

  1. Form five groups of participants (4-6 people); each group elects a rapporteur and time-keeper.
  2. The members of each group decide whether they are designing a two year project (100.000 US$) or larger five year programme (2.000.000 US$); this will be important to provide the logic for the analysis. 
  3. Decide in ONE SENTENCE what the FOCUS of the programme or project will be. Do not spend more than 10 minutes for deciding on this DRAFT PROJECT FOCUS. This is just to conduct the exercise in reality it will take more thinking!!
  4. The group then discusses the following questions as they relate to the list of potential stakeholders in the Hopeland case study; the rapporteurs record group ideas on the Worksheet A:
  • Identify stakeholders
  • Describe stakeholders: Who are the primary, secondary and/or key stakeholder?
  • Assess influence/importance: How influential and important are the primary stakeholders? The key stakeholders? What stakeholders are important, but lack influence?

Phase 3. Outlining a stakeholder participation strategy (20 minutes)

The same groups outline a stakeholder participation strategy. Each group will consider at what stage in the project cycle (project identification, detailed project planning, implementation and monitoring, evaluation) different stakeholders will be involved and with what intensity. Will they be provided with information , be consulted, will there be collaborative dicision making or even an empowerment to let the respective stakeholder take the final control over the decision making? The group will use Worksheet B to record the summary of the group discussion/decisions.

Phase 4. Reporting and discussion (50 minutes)

  1. The rapporteurs present the results to the audience. About ten minutes are available for each presentation and a brief discussion. (40 minutes)
  2. After all the presentations, the facilitator invites the participants to have a brief discussion, provides and asks for feedback and closes the session. (10 minutes)

Hopeland Case Study for Stakeholder and Problem Analysis

Hopeland is a low-income food deficit country (LIFDC). The agriculture sector contributes over 50% to its GNP. Most agriculturists are small-holders, farming 1-3 hectares. Agriculture is diverse in Hopeland, having higher potential in the southern, more humid areas. There are some larger farms emerging in the better-endowed areas, and some export crops are increasing farm revenues and improving the balance of trade. There is an emerging middle class in the southern regions and potential for higher returns to investment in the agricultural sector than elsewhere in the country.

Hopeland is concerned about poverty in rural areas, which has deepened in recent years. Structural adjustment programmes resulted in reduced rural services – primarily in health, education and infrastructure. There is more urban migration, which is putting a strain on urban systems. Unemployment is high and crime is on the rise.

The Government of Hopeland has recently completed a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PPSP), identifying the worst-affected areas of the country for more direct programming. The UN agencies have also completed the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), which would like to support a concentration of funding in these same areas. FAO has been involved in both of these planning processes and is convinced that the country priorities lie in these directions.
The worst-affected rural areas are distant in the northern part of the country. Here population growth is putting considerable pressure on the land-base. Maize and sorghum are the principle cereal crops in the area, supplemented by livestock farming. These have typically been considered “men’s activities”, along with land clearing. Women are responsible for growing legumes, vegetables and condiments and for raising small animals, such as poultry. They also carry out most of the harvesting, processing and marketing of all of the crops grown. Farms in this region historically suffer crop declines one year out of five due to drought and declining soil fertility, but in recent years traditional coping mechanisms have begun to fail. Soils have been deteriorating steadily over the years, partly due to reduced bush fallow. Though some farmers have used fertilizers on their fields in the past, since the Government of Hopeland reduced subsidies on fertilizers they are not affordable. 

In recent years, another problem has arisen. Under worsening soil fertility and due to more intensive land use, Striga, a parasitic weed, is on the increase. It spreads rapidly and overtakes cereals grown on infested soils, resulting in the eventual abandonment of these fields. 

Families in this northern part of the country undergo a “hungry season” every year, a period when food reserves are too low to eat three meals a day. It has gotten so severe in recent decades that young men have left the area looking for paid work. Employment is not available much of the year and remittances home are small. In many households women are now the primary farmers, also responsible for cereals production. They have problems securing agricultural loans, because they do not own the land they farm and have no collateral; traditionally land in the north is only attributed to men. Most of the women are illiterate and few are able to make investments in their farms. 

As government services have declined, international and local NGOs have tried to fill the void in service delivery, though their funds are inadequate. More and more, government services are supposed to be provided by district-level government offices as part of the country’s policy to decentralize; these offices, however, are not capable yet of assuming many of their new responsibilities. In this changing institutional landscape, some voids are not being filled. 

Agricultural research is one of them. It is still administered through a central ministry, having technical mandates for the entire country. Donor support to research has declined in the last decade and national support has not been sufficient to keep the institutes running at full capacity. Consequently, most research has been done on-station in recent years and has concentrated on problems associated with the higher potential areas and crops of the southern part of the country.

Agricultural extension systems are also weak. Extension workers lack the training to be effective in all of the technical areas they must cover. Most extension workers lack the mobility to reach farmers in their areas of coverage, and the ratio of farmers to extension agents is large. Nearly all extension workers are male and women farmers have little access to them.

In an attempt to target the vulnerable farm families of the north, the national research system has proposed to work – with donor support – more intensively on the Striga problem. They already have some high-yielding maize varieties that look promising under improved management; some of these show some resistance to Striga. They believe that supporting their plant breeding programmes will greatly improve the food security and incomes of farm families in the north. They have requested that FAO develop a project with them to cover research operating costs and some extension worker training, publications, etc. While you are interested in helping to solve this technical problem – perhaps by supporting this request – you have also been working with other partners on a more strategic level to identify priority issues and responses.

You are part of a team within FAO responsible for identifying promising project ideas to address priority concerns of the Hopeland government. You might consider going forward with a focused Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) activity or, having identified some donors interested in working on poverty and food security issues in the north, might suggest a more integrated Trust Fund approach. The choice is yours. Depending upon what you decide to do – either a TCP or Trust Fund approach – your key stakeholders and project objectives will vary. You will be involved in both stakeholder analysis and in problem analysis and in identifying FAO’s role.

 Worksheet A

Type of Stakeholder Importance for Project success     Influence/Power (high, medium, low)
















Worksheet B:  Stakeholder analysis: formulation of stakeholder participation strategy

Stages of the
Project Cycle
Type of Stakeholder Participation
  Providing Information
(one-way flow)
(two-way information
(joint control
over decisions)
(primary control
over decisions)
Detailed project

and Monitoring


  Informal Working Group on
  Participatory Approaches & Methods
...to support Sustainable Livelihoods  
& Food Security