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Posted November 1997

Participation in practice / 2
The People's Participation Programme

Introduction | People's Participation Programme (PPP) | Project preparation | Forming groups | Group activities | Implementing agencies | Financial component | Group promoters | Participatory training | Monitoring and evaluation | Project sustainability | Costs and benefits | Replicating the PPP approach | Complete Special as a single 121K file

Experience in Asia

FAO involvement with small farmer organizations in Asia provided much of the conceptual framework and field experience for the development of PPP. In the 1970s, FAO studies found that informal groups, consisting of 8-15 members from similar socio-economic backgrounds, were better vehicles for participation in decision-making and collective learning than heterogeneous, large scale and more formal organizations. This served as a stimulus for the FAO Small Farmers Development Programme (SFDP), which organized thousands of participatory groups in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Laos PDR, Nepal, The Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
THE FAO People's Participation Programme arose from WCARRD and its call for "the active involvement and organization of the grass roots level of the rural people". PPP's main emphasis is on formation of small, informal, self-reliant groups of the rural poor as part of a longer-term strategy to build institutions serving their interests. These groups allow members to work together on income-generating activities, serve as receiving mechanisms for development services, and provide a voice for members in dealing with local authorities. Facilitators in this process are project coordinating committees, government and NGOs, and locally recruited group promoters.

The first PPP project was launched in Sierra Leone in 1982. Later, other projects were implemented in Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tanzania, Thailand, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In all, more than 13,000 people have actively participated in PPP; including their household dependents, beneficiaries totaled more than 80,000 people.

PPP elements

A review of PPP revealed many similarities, but also marked differences, in implementation of the principal elements of the participatory approach. These elements are:

Replication of PPP

FAO considers that PPP's working hypothesis - that of realizing people's participation through small group formation - is a valid concept and method. The task ahead is to replicate the approach on a much larger scale. Replication does not mean duplication: rather, it is the diffusion of PPP concepts, methodologies and practices to governments, donors and other development organizations and their adaptation to local conditions.

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