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3. Review of FAO and Non-FAO Experiences

This section presents a number of FAO and non-FAO experiences in supporting participation of the rural poor in policy making processes.

A review of the literature and interviews with FAO and IFAD technical officers reveal few experiences of PPM. Those that do exist are not well-documented. The information is fragmented and incomplete, and had to be extracted from documents that were written for other purposes; e.g. workshop reports, travel reports, and descriptive materials focusing on aspects of the project or programme other than policy. Much of the material deals with plans rather than results or processes. There has been little analysis or evaluation of results or processes. Ten cases of FAO and non-FAO experiences were selected from this documentation.

The information presented includes: the initiator, source of funding and dates of the experience; the objectives; who participated; the processes and institutional mechanisms used; the results; the enabling environment; the problems and constraints encountered; the sustainability of the process; and the lessons learned. The cases are:

1. Mali: National Cotton Production and Marketing Policy

2. Kenya: Scaling up Participatory Extension

3. Hindu Kush - Himalayas: Participatory Policy Framework: Empowering Local Community in Livestock Resource Planning and Decision Making

4. Turkey: National Forestry Programme

5. Mozambique: Land Policy

6. Costa Rica: Gender and Participation in Agricultural Development Planning

7. Honduras: Participatory Consolidation of Government Institutions and Territorial Planning

8. Mexico: Programme of Integrated Rural Development in the Tropical Wetlands (PRODERITH) - Rural Communication System

9. Brazil: Participatory Budgeting in Porto Alegre

10. Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs): examples of participation in the PRSP processes in Bolivia, Malawi, and Rwanda

3.1. Mali: National Cotton Production and Marketing Policy

(Bingen 1998)

The case study on influencing the national cotton production and marketing policy in Mali is an example of an autonomous initiative of farmers demanding policy reform.

3.1.1 Initiator/Source of Funding/Dates:

National Union of Cotton and Food Crop Producers (SYCOV). Took place in 1991.

3.1.2 Goals and Objectives:

Changes in national cotton production and marketing policy.

3.1.3 Who Participated:

The National Union of Cotton and Food Crop Producers (SYCOV) and the nationalized Malian Company for Textile Development (CMDT).

3.1.4 Process/Institutional Mechanisms:

The process consisted of two phases: a confrontational approach taken by SYCOV and a negotiated settlement between SYCOV and the CMDT.

3.1.5 Enabling Environment/Critical Success Factors (CSFs):

Two important factors were critical to the success of the effort:

3.1.6 Constraints/Problems/Critical Failure Factors (CFFs):

The main problems cited by the case study were in the areas of accountability, power relations, and the danger of co-option. As the capacity and strength of the VAs and the union increased, there were signs of the emergence of power elites and a need for greater accountability of SYCOV leaders. Attempts by the government to co-opt the union also threatened its ability to continue to serve as a progressive political force.

3.1.7 Results:

Cotton producers obtained the desired changes in national cotton production and marketing policy in 1991.

3.1.8 Sustainability:

Sustainability depends on the ability of SYCOV to continue as a progressive political force in the face of possible co-option" by government forces.

3.1.9 Lessons Learned:

Capacity building is key to the emergence of strong farmers’ organizations that can take action and obtain policy changes from government.

3.2. Kenya: Scaling up Participatory Extension

(Anyonge et al 2001)

The case study on scaling up participatory extension in Kenya is an example of a government initiated process assisted by donor agencies and implemented by government agencies.

3.2 1 Initiator/Source of Funding/Dates:

The process was initiated by the Government of Kenya with assistance from the Finnish International Development Agency (FINNIDA). It was implemented by the Forestry Extension Services Division. Farmers shared costs of implementing pilot project activities. The initial funding phases were 1990-1998.

3.2.2 Goals and Objectives:

To assess the impact of conventional service delivery.

To develop participatory extension methods, such as local level planning (LLP).

To incorporate experiences of pilot participatory extension projects into national extension policy (scaling up).

3.2.3 Who Participated:

There was widespread participation ranging from farmers and community groups to extension staff to national extension policy makers, research institutions and donors.

3.2.4 Process/Institutional Mechanisms:

The process was carried out in methodological steps over a number of years, beginning with the assessment of conventional extension delivery, moving to pilot projects to develop participatory extension methods, and scaling up to incorporating the experiences of these projects into national extension policy.

A wide variety of participatory mechanisms were used, including: surveys of farming households and farmers’ focus groups; socio-economic and marketing studies; PRA; training of extension staff in participatory methodologies; open village meetings (barazas); focus group discussions to develop multi-agency extension plans; meetings with women’s groups leaders and village elders; national agroforestry extension workshop; field visits by policy makers to project sites; and farmers’ views collected by agricultural extension policy team. Donors shared their experiences of LLP and were represented at policy meetings.

3.2.5 Enabling Environment/Critical Success Factors (CSFs):

A number of critical factors led to the success of the project. There was a favourable external environment for the government to initiate the project in that farmers expressed the need for improved extension delivery and methodologies. An opportune moment was provided by the abolition of a costly and time consuming tree felling permit. The project also created a favourable internal environment by providing capacity building for all stakeholders and undertaking extensive consultation, which created broad ownership of the process. The project was also capable of adapting to the changing national policy environment of deregulation and economic liberalization.

3.2.6 Constraints/Problems/Critical Failure Factors (CFFs):

A number of factors lessened the sense of ownership of the project, however. These included lack of transparency and accountability between those implementing the extension plans and farmers and community groups and the fact that funds were channelled through just one government agency.

Not all the participatory methods were equally successful. Open public meetings were too large and attracted less active members of the community. As a result, attendance was inconsistent and it was not possible to allocate and follow up responsibilities.

3.2.7 Results:

Assessment showed that school and farmers’ LLP groups were the most effective conventional service delivery methods.

LLP was carried out as a pilot project in two districts. It succeeded in facilitating community planning and implementing a range of NRM activities.

Communities in the two locations continue their own development activities, mobilizing resources and engaging the services they require.

The pilot projects have had an influence on national policy.

3.2.8 Sustainability:

A critical factor that could threaten the sustainability of the changes in the extension policy and methods is the attitude of extension staff accustomed to implementing training and visit (T and V) extension methods. For this reason, intensive staff training was planned for the first two years of implementing the new policy and methods.

3.2.9 Lessons Learned:

The project learned a number of lessons from its experience in using participatory methods, i.e.: community feedback is best channelled through village elders and leaders of organized groups as long as consideration is given to gender in community representation; community experience in planning and budgeting enables them to take up these responsibilities when extension service funding declines; developing technology and conducting trials on representative farms, makes it possible to reach larger numbers of farmers; and timely capacity building of extension staff in their weak areas is crucial.

3.3. Hindu Kush - Himalayas: Participatory Policy Framework: Empowering Local Community in Livestock Resource Planning and Decision Making

(Tulachan and Maki-Hokkonen 2002)

The case study on developing a participatory policy framework for community empowerment in the Hindu Kush - Himalayas is an example of a carefully planned, step by step, participatory process initiated by FAO in partnership with an INGO.

3.3.1 Initiator/Source of Funding/Dates:

The process was initiated and funded by FAO (Animal Production and Health Division) in partnership with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) Mountain Farming Division. The time frame was 1997 - 2001.

3.3.2 Goals and Objectives:

To develop a participatory policy framework for community empowerment in livestock resource planning and decision making in the Hindu Kush-Himalayas (HKH) region.

3.3.3 Who Participated:

The process of developing the policy framework involved a range of participants including, research institutes, FAO, and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).

3.3.4 Process/Institutional Mechanisms:

A number of steps were taken in preparation for the multi-stakeholder consultations in which the proposal for the policy framework was drafted. These preparations included state of the art review studies and the development of a livestock data base; an international symposium of experts on livestock production systems in mountain areas; country papers prepared by resource persons; and case studies, carried out using participatory techniques, to identify key indicators. On the basis of these materials, a multi-stakeholder workshop was held with the participation of farmers, ICIMOD, research institutes, government agencies and FAO to draft the proposal. A similar multi-stakeholder workshop is planned on operationalizing the framework.

3.3.5 Enabling Environment/Critical Success Factors (CSFs):

A favourable enabling environment facilitated the process: the failure of past top-down livestock development approaches meant there was readiness in the area for developing a new participatory policy framework.

Critical factors favouring the success of the initiative included: the existence of INGOs in the area with considerable development experience and expertise; the existence of efforts of projects and NGOs working at the grassroots using participatory approaches; the existence of some successful small-scale livestock enterprises (with mainly women as the active players).

3.3.6 Constraints/Problems/Critical Failure Factors (CFFs):

The fact that the mountain regions of the area are diverse, fragile, marginal, vulnerable and resource poor was a risk factor.

3.3.7 Results:

A concrete proposal for a policy framework for community empowerment in livestock resource planning and decision making in the region was prepared in 2001 and is ready for field testing and validation in 2002.

3.3.8 Sustainability:

External funding was necessary for the process of developing the proposed framework and additional funding will be required for its testing and validation. Once the framework is successfully implemented, it is expected to empower farmers’ communities to plan and manage local livestock resources in order to improve mountain livelihoods in a sustainable manner.

3.3.9 Lessons Learned:

3.4. Turkey: National Forestry Programme

(ªenyaz 2001; Reeb 2001)

The case study on the National Forestry Programme (NFP) in Turkey is an example of an FAO-assisted process to prepare a national forestry policy that takes into consideration the forest-related needs of a range of stakeholders, including rural and urban populations and wood-based industries.

3.4.1 Initiator/Source of Funding/Dates:

This is an FAO TCP/TUR/0066 with a time frame of 2000 - 2003.

3.4.2 Goals and Objectives:

To provide technical assistance for preparation of a National Forestry Programme (NFP) that will take into consideration the needs of rural and urban populations as well as wood-based industries.

3.4.3 Who Participated:

3.4.4 Process/Institutional Mechanisms:

Efforts were made to include the input of forest villagers and other stakeholders in the policy formulation through a field survey to gather recommendations. A training workshop was held to equip persons to conduct the field survey. The results were presented at a national-level workshop.

3.4.5 Enabling Environment/Critical Success Factors (CSFs):

Information was not provided.

3.4.6 Constraints/Problems/Critical Failure Factors (CFFs):

A number of constraints were identified that hindered the participation of villagers in the survey. These included the lack of adequate information and poor timing. Villagers were busy in the fields during the survey and this limited their participation. Another major problem was the absence of feedback mechanisms to inform stakeholders about the outcome of the national workshop or whether their recommendations had been taken into account.

3.4.7 Results:

Input from stakeholders is under consideration.

3.4.8 Sustainability:

The formulation of the NFP is still on-going and there has not yet been a full assessment of the process or its sustainability.

3.4.9 Lessons Learned:

An enabling environment needs to be created to ensure the participation of stakeholders. This environment should include:

3.5. Mozambique: Land Policy

(Tanner 2002; McGee with Norton 2000: 50)

The Mozambique Land Policy case study provides an example of a government initiated participatory process, with technical assistance from FAO.

3.5.1 Initiator/Source of Funding/Dates

The process was initiated by the Government of Mozambique, with the assistance of FAO. The time frame was 1994-1997.

3.5.2 Goals and Objectives:

The objective was to develop a new land policy that would form the basis of a new land law.

3.5.3 Who Participated:

The process included participation from government, academia, civil society organizations and representatives of farmers’ cooperatives. Government participation was cross-sectoral through an Inter-Ministerial Land Commission. An FAO advisory team provided assistance and advice.

3.5.4 Process/Institutional Mechanisms:

The mechanisms used included consultations with stakeholders at local and regional levels, a series of seminars, and opportunities for stakeholders to submit reports and comments. A National Land Conference with multi-stakeholder participation was also held.

3.5.5 Enabling Environment/Critical Success Factors (CSFs):

The impetus for developing the new land policy was the transition of the country to a market economy. Unlike other countries in Southern Africa, land had never been concentrated in the hands of a minority. In order to prevent this from happening and protect the traditional land rights of farmers, a new land policy and law were needed. Without such a policy, the transition to a market economy brought with it the risk of privatization of land in the hands of a few and the loss of access to land by the local farmers.

A favourable enabling environment was created by the Government’s commitment to a multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder process.

A strong civil society movement, the Campanha Terra (Land Campaign), that included a coalition of 150 civil rights organizations, farmers’ associations, women’s movements, church groups, trade unions, and academics, stimulated civil society participation through:

3.5.6 Constraints/Problems/Critical Failure Factors (CFFs):

3.5.7 Results:

The policy was formulated in 1995 and, in 1997, a new land law went into effect.

3.5.8 Sustainability:

While the process resulted in a new land policy and law, a number of concrete steps were deemed necessary to ensure their implementation, including:

3.5.9 Lessons Learned:

Although an objective of developing a new policy was to protect traditional land rights, it was found that some traditions and customs discriminated against women and their rights to land. These were in conflict with constitutional protections of equal rights. In such circumstances, it was decided that constitutional rights should prevail in the new land policy and law.

3.6. Costa Rica: Gender and Participation in Agricultural Development Planning

(Bifani 1997)

The Costa Rica case study on gender and participation in agricultural development planning is an example of a government initiated process with technical assistance from FAO.

3.6.1 Initiator/Source of Funding/Dates:

The process was initiated by the Government of Costa Rica, with the assistance of FAO TCP/COS/4552(T). The time frame was 1996-1997.

3.6.2 Goals and Objectives:

The goal was to contribute to the introduction and development of an alternative methodological approach, the Gender Approach, in the guidelines, programmes and activities of the mixed farming and environmental sectors.

3.6.3 Who Participated:

The process included broad participation from women farmers, farmers’ and producers’ organizations, local agricultural centres, district-level agencies and a national-level multi-sectoral Gender Planning Committee.

3.6.4 Process/Institutional Mechanisms:

A three-step process included:

3.6.5 Enabling Environment/Critical Success Factors (CSFs):

A favourable enabling environment was provided by:

3.6.6 Constraints/Problems/Critical Failure Factors (CFFs):

The process was constrained by its short duration. Projects that attempt to make structural changes require a long period to mature and change long-ingrained attitudes. In this case, deeply rooted gender stereotypes provoked discomfort and defensiveness in some people when dealing with formulations regarding discrimination against women.

3.6.7 Results:

The process resulted in a proposal for strategic guidelines to incorporate the gender approach into the sectors’ guidelines. As of 1997, an official document was being prepared with deadlines stipulated for compliance. However, the case study provided no information or assessment regarding the implementation of the guidelines.

3.6.8 Sustainability:

Elements that are expected to promote sustainability are: the creation of strong groups of women farmers, gender sensitive experts, officials and technicians, and committed officials in the sector’s institutions.

3.6.9 Lessons Learned:

A number of elements in the process can be cited as particularly useful in achieving the objectives of the process:

However, it was found that:

3.7. Honduras: Participatory Consolidation of Government Institutions and Territorial Planning

(FAO 2002, 2002b)

The case study from Honduras on participatory consolidation of government institutions and territorial planning is an example of a process initiated by a municipal level government.

3.7.1 Initiator/Source of Funding/Dates:

Municipality of La Campa, Honduras. Dates not given.

3.7.2 Goals and Objectives:

To prepare a territorial plan at the municipal level, using participatory methods, that will guarantee a profitable and sustainable use of natural resources, strengthen the cultural and ethnic patrimony of the population, and promote food security and sustainable livelihoods.

3.7.3 Who Participated:

Participants included the local population, farmers’ organizations, representative community organizations and the municipal government.

3.7.4 Process/Institutional Mechanisms:

Local populations were consulted through their village councils and sectoral commissions were formed. Representatives of the sectoral commissions participated in the Municipal Development Councils.

3.7.5 Enabling Environment/Critical Success Factors (CSFs)

Critical factors contributing to the success of the process were the social capital of the communities in the form of family and ethnic ties and the existence of traditional consultation practices in the village councils. Another critical factor was the legitimacy of the mayor in the eyes of the local population. In addition, the mayor’s efforts received support from an FAO-assisted project in the area.

3.7.6 Constraints/Problems/Critical Failure Factors (CFFs):

Risk factors included the lack of basic infrastructure and services and the weak fiscal transfers from the central government.

3.7.7 Results:

The municipality was able to achieve its goal of preparing a territorial plan and was able to raise and spend money through taxation, based on land use, which was acceptable to local populations.

3.7.8 Sustainability:

The municipality has been reinforced through the willingness of the local population to pay the taxes necessary for the provision of services. This willingness is expected to continue as long as the services remain relevant and charges are fair.

3.7.9 Lessons Learned:

An important lesson is that local populations are willing to pay taxes as long as: (i) the quality of services received in return is satisfactory and relevant to farmers’ needs; and (ii) the level of taxation reflects income. This is critical to the sustainability of the effort. Other experience shows that participatory community planning sometimes cannot be implemented because finances are controlled by the central government.

The sustainability of municipal structures is a function of their ability to raise taxes locally.

3.8. Mexico: Programme of Integrated Rural Development in the Tropical Wetlands (PRODERITH) - Rural Communication System

(FAO 1996)

This case study provides an example of a rural communications component designed to promote people’s participation and influence in the decision and policy making of a large-scale integrated development programme.

3.8.1 Initiator/Source of Funding/Dates:

The Programme of Integrated Rural Development in the Tropical Wetlands (PRODERITH), Mexico, was a government-initiated programme, financed by a World Bank Loan. FAO provided technical assistance for the communications component. The time frame was: Phase I 1978 - 1984 and Phase II 1986 - 1995.

3.8.2 Goals and Objectives:

The objectives of the component were to create a rural communications system in support of PRODERITH and transfer the system to farmers’ associations in order to promote participatory planning and appraisal by farmers; build capacity of farmers and programme staff in the production and use of communications media (e.g. video and radio); and provide programme coordination and management with feedback from the beneficiaries.

3.8.3 Who Participated:

Participants included project staff, development institutions, community groups, farmer leaders, and farmers’ associations.

3.8.4 Process/Institutional Mechanisms:

The process included:

3.8.5 Enabling Environment/Critical Success Factors (CSFs):

Two critical factors created a favourable environment for developing a rural communications system designed to bring the views of farmers to policymakers and planners:

3.8.6 Constraints/Problems/Critical Failure Factors (CFFs):

The economic crisis and structural adjustment in Mexico during the 1980s threatened the success of the programme as a whole, including the rural communications component. The scaling down of personnel and funds resulted in the downsizing of the activities of the rural communications system.

3.8.7 Results:

The rural communication system succeeded in bringing the voices and views of farmers and their communities to the programme’s technical staff, institutions, planners and policymakers. Participatory communication became part of the policy development and extension methodologies used within PRODERITH.

A communication system was established consisting of a central unit and a network of several local units capable of implementing communication campaigns.

Training in communication for development reached about 800 000 farmers.

Communication activities were undertaken to support farmers’ organizations and their capacity to implement local development plans.

More than 700 videos were produced on a wide range of agricultural and rural development issues and were used for:

3.8.8 Sustainability:

Sustainability depends on whether the democratic and participatory focus successfully applied during PRODERITH is sufficiently institutionalized and becomes a stable element of rural development.

3.8.9 Lessons Learned:

This rural communication initiative illustrated the key role communication can play in promoting people’s participation in planning and policy making. Communication channels and media were able to:

3.9. Brazil: Participatory Budgeting in Porto Alegre

(Chavez nd; de Sousa Santos 1998; Goldsmith and Vainer 2001)

The participatory budgeting scheme in Porto Alegre Brazil is an example of participatory policy making at the municipal level initiated by the municipal government.

3.9.1 Initiator/Source of Funding/Dates

The Partito dos Trabalhadores (PT) in power in the government of Porto Alegre initiated the process in the 1990s.

3.9.2 Goals and Objectives:

The objectives were to: achieve citizens’ direct participation in decision making regarding urban management and local development; and to encourage greater political awareness and power of urban residents and their social organizations.

3.9.3 Who Participated:

Participants came from the ranks of the governing party, professionals, technocrats, the middle class, the working poor, and a few from the very poor. They included:

3.9.4 Process/Institutional Mechanisms:

After the party’s decision to establish a process with broad participation, a methodical structure was established consisting of:

3.9.5 Enabling Environment/Critical Success Factors (CSFs):

The main factor making this effort possible was the election of the leftist political party (the PT) with wide support from different sectors of the population. Once in power the decision of the PT to govern not just for the poor, but all urban residents, gained the support of the middle class. This was a critical factor in the success of the participatory budgeting initiative. The existence of an active grassroots movement dating from the early 1980s, including the formation in 1983 of the Federation of Neighbourhood Associations of Porto Alegre (UAMPA) meant that basic consultative structures were already in place at the local level.

Critical success factors internal to the process included:

3.9.6 Constraints/Problems/Critical Failure Factors (CFFs):

The PT had the ability to overcome a number of obstacles that threatened the effort, including: the bankruptcy of the municipal government when it came into office; conflicting trends within the PT, with one faction favouring the inclusion of only community organizations in the budgeting process; and hostility from a conservative city council and right-wing newspapers and television programmes.

3.9.7 Results:

It is generally agreed that the objectives of participatory budgeting have been achieved with increasingly greater participation and involvement of citizens in decision making.

3.9.8 Sustainability:

The sustainability of the process depends on a number of factors. A possible threat to its continuance is the dependence of the municipal budget on transfers from the federal government. Macroeconomic or political considerations may threaten the ability of the municipalities to carry out autonomous policies if the federal government cuts the social budget in the face of economic crisis. The possibility also exists that this radical process may become routine and participation may consequently decline.

Other participatory budgeting and decentralization efforts have been undertaken in some 80 cities of Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina where progressive parties have been elected to office (Chavez nd: 1).

3.9.9 Lessons Learned:

3.10. Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs): Examples of Participation in the PRSP Processes in Bolivia, Malawi, and Rwanda

(Catholic Relief Services 2001; McGee with Norton 2000; Painter 2002; Richmond and Ladd 2001)

The Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers is an initiative developed by the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1999. Governments are obliged to prepare and implement a PRSP in order to benefit from the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative and obtain WB and IMF loans.

This case study is based on critiques of the PRSP process in Bolivia, Malawi and Rwanda.

3.10.1 Initiator/Source of Funding/Dates:

The PRSP process is intended to be government owned and controlled. It was initiated in 1999.

3.10.2 Goals and Objectives:

The PRSP is intended to provide the basis for the tripartite agreement between the WB, the IMF and Governments. It aims to be:

3.10.3 Who Participated:

Bolivia: Civil society participation was weak, especially at the local level and among indigenous people. Women were also not well represented in the process despite a 30% quota set for women’s participation at the municipal level. A number of constraints hindered participation (see 3.10.7).

As a result many sectors of civil society in Bolivia felt they could not effectively participate in the government-led PRSP process. Instead they organized an alternative process that attracted the participation of many CSOs, workers and indigenous people. While this alternative process created many spaces for civil society discussion and debate, it did not directly influence the outcome of the PRSP.

Malawi: Local level participation was weak and civil society was almost entirely excluded. In response to the exclusion, the Malawi Economic Justice Network was formed to push for greater civil society participation.

Rwanda: Local level participation was relatively high. However, while attention was given to the class, age and gender of participants, few rural people participated. At the civil society level, INGOs, national NGOs, trade unions and some churches participated, but religious organizations, rural-based NGOs, farmers’ organizations and the informal sector were not fully involved.

3.10.4 Process/Institutional Mechanisms:

The PRSP process consists of:

Bolivia: The Bolivian Government instituted a National Dialogue for civil society participation. The primary mechanism was round table discussions at municipal level on concrete issues of poverty reduction and resource allocation. Decisions were made by consensus and representatives took the conclusions forward to departmental and national levels.

Malawi: the main institutional mechanisms of the PRSP process were: i) a technical committee to oversee the process; and ii) district-level workshops.

Rwanda: in spite of a weak democracy, the government managed to establish structures for broad input at the local level at the analysis stage of the PRSP process. The mechanisms were: i) a National Poverty Assessment involving approximately 1000 sectors (the second-lowest organizational level in the country) with outreach to communities and households; and ii) a Policy Relevance Test carried out in 38 of 100 districts that involved about 10 000 people in focus group discussions.

3.10.5 Enabling Environment/Critical Success Factors (CSFs):

Bolivia has a highly developed and active civil society including NGOs run by an educated middle class, social movements consisting of broad-based membership groups run by the indigenous population, and an active Catholic Church. As a rule, an active civil society constitutes an enabling environment for participation and is usually a critical factor in its success. An active civil society is likely to demand and expect quality participation.

No information was provided about enabling environments or factors in Malawi and Rwanda.

3.10.6 Constraints/Problems/Critical Failure Factors (CFFs):

One factor that negatively affected participation in the PRSPs in all countries was its tie with eligibility for benefits from the HIPC initiative which led countries to rush the process. Broad and effective participation, however, needs time.

Bolivia: The process was negatively affected by a national political crisis. Moreover, previous efforts in Bolivia to promote participation through the 1995 Law of Popular Participation and 1997 National Dialogue were fraught with problems. Consequently farmers and trade unions were distrustful of the PRSP process. Additionally, there tended to be a weak connection between the municipal governments and the local population, particularly indigenous people, which hindered local-level participation.

Civil society was highly critical of the PRSP process in Bolivia for a number of reasons, notably: the insufficient time allotted for effective participation, the lack of information from the government in appropriate languages and formats, the absence of information in indigenous languages, and the short notice given about meetings which prevented participants from preparing adequately. The discussions on political, social and economic issues were held separately and CSOs were excluded from the economic discussions.

Malawi: There was a high level of distrust between citizens and the state, and civil society organizations tended to be weak and lack experience in advocacy. The technical committee included a few CSOs, but only those screened by the government. District chiefs were responsible for inviting people to the district-level workshops, but no guidance was provided by the central government to ensure participation of ordinary people. As a result, workshops were dominated by elected and traditional authorities and influential people. In addition, agendas and documents were not distributed before meetings, preventing proper preparation. In response to the exclusion, the Malawi Economic Justice Network was formed to promote greater civil society participation.

Rwanda: Participation was constrained by the failure to translate documents into community languages. Moreover, participants were not able to prepare adequately because the agendas and documents were not distributed before meetings. Participants were also disappointed to find that the consultation meeting at the national level, which was supposed to be a forum to discuss the interim PRSP, consisted primarily of a long government presentation.

3.10.7 Results:

As of 2001, 35 PRSPs had been undertaken, and 14 full PRSPs are publicly available. The case studies gave only a critique of the process and did not give information on the results.

3.10.8 Sustainability:

3.10.9 Lessons Learned:

Many lessons regarding participation can be gleaned from the PRSP experience in these countries. Some of these lessons would appear to be simply common sense: if people are to participate they must receive basic information and documents in appropriate languages and formats, and agendas and documents must be distributed ahead of time in order for participants to prepare adequately to take part in meetings.

Meetings must be conveniently timed for participants and consideration must be given to working hours and women’s household and child care responsibilities. Meeting places should be accessible, neutral and non-threatening. Likewise, the level of formality and protocol should not be intimidating.

People who are expected to participate in policy making need to be made aware of their rights and an effective communication strategy must be implemented. Capacity building is necessary, particularly in the areas of economic analysis, policy formulation, negotiation and advocacy.

The PRSP process demonstrated that quality participation cannot be rushed, and that participatory processes are only as strong as the weakest institution on which they are based. Weak local-level democracies produced weak participatory processes. The initiator of the process and the one setting the rules, in this case the government, strongly determines the quality of the process. An experienced civil society is helpful but not determinative if the institutional mechanisms for participation fail to provide adequate spaces for civil society.

Participation in the PRSP process proved easier to organize at the analysis stage. More attention is required to promote participation in the decision making, implementation, monitoring and evaluation stages. Mechanisms must be in place to give feedback on whether and why recommendations are or are not included.

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