Participatory Methods in Community Development

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Wednesday, 17 January 2018
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This post was originally posted on LinkedIn on 26 October 2015:

I find myself in Bangkok, participating in an UNDP-IDEAS collaboration conference on Monitoring and Evaluation of Development Programmes.  As a community development practitioner for many years - for the first part of my career in the government and aid sector, and more recently in the extractive industry - I was very keen to participate in a workshop on participatory evaluation methods presented today.   I hoped to learn a lot and so to share this acquired knowledge with my colleagues in the extractive industry.  Also, on Wednesday, I am presenting my experience in monitoring and evaluation of community development/investment projects implemented by the extractive industry in (primarily) West and East Africa. 

During the preparation of my paper and presentation for Wednesday's session, I was quite critical of the extractive industry, believing that we, as an industry, lag behind the state and civil society when it comes to engaging directly with the beneficiaries of community development /investment projects.  My believe was that we do not engage enough, and that we do not always put the people's voices centre to decisions made on their behalf, nor do we ask them directly about the impact of our community development initiatives. 

What I learned today, in a room surrounded by government, civil society, development bank, etc. employees, who are leaders and most senior managers in their respective agencies, is that the extractive industry, whether mining or oil&gas, is streaks ahead of these agencies when it comes to putting the most affected people central to development initiatives.  Perhaps it has to do with the need for our social license to operate, or perhaps it is the pressure from shareholders, governments and even the community members themselves.  Whatever the reasons, we can be proud of what we are achieving and what we have achieved in recent years. 

Of course, we should not rest on our laurels, and we should constantly strive to improve.  But we must always, always put the most affected peoples first and central.

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