Academic journal article Journal of Economic and Social Studies

Participatory Approach to Development in Pakistan

Academic journal article Journal of Economic and Social Studies

Participatory Approach to Development in Pakistan

Article excerpt

Introduction

In response to the failure of development projects in 1950s, social activists and fieldworkers observed that the populations concerned were not included in project's design and implementation. Failure was linked to the lack of local people's involvement in developmental projects. It was assumed that if local people were involved, projects would have been more successful (AWARD, 2008). Similarly, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States (FAO) also pointed out that the traditional top-down approach of many developing and developed countries failed to reach and benefit the rural poor (FAO, 1991). The reason for this failure, identified by the international community in the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (WCARRD), held in Rome in 1979, is the lack of active participation of the poor in development programmes (FAO, 1990). As an alternative approach, the concept of participatory development gained significance in development debates and programmes.

Adopting a people oriented approach rather than a government outlook will bring in more peace and development. The recent people protest in Arabs called "Arab Spring" is more an outcome of young generation demanding participation in the country's governance and resource allocation processes. Such human turmoil can be minimized if not totally eliminated by adopting people participatory approach to crucial projects at least. This will have a twofold effect - strengthen the community and second bring in the better citizenship. Thus, involving people in development, governance and decision making becomes need of the day as it ensures confidence of the people. It also helps in providing equality, justice and smooth delivery of services. The low level of participation can be one of the reasons behind the recent "Arab Spring" started in 2010. The people in these countries have stood up for more freedom, equality, justice, better future prospects, employment, economic and social development and participation in the decision making process.

The phenomenon of participatory or bottom-up development has become very popular, interesting and attractive in the context of urban and regional development and has recently become virtually indispensable in the discussion on development. According to Masanyiwa and Kinyashi (2008, p 3) "participation has now become an established orthodoxy in development thinking and practice." Participation is widely accepted by many governments and international agencies including the World Bank (World Bank, 1996; World Bank, 1998; World Bank, 2000), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP, 1997), US Agency for International Development (USAID, 1999), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA, 1995), Food Agriculture Organization (FAO, 1990, FAO; 1991, FAO; 1994 and FAO, 1997), Inter-American Development Bank (IADB, 1996) as an important element in development projects and programmes, and have involved people/GROs/ NGOs in their development programmes/activities in order to achieve sustainable development. On the other hand, in the so-called top-down approach to development, the entire process of formulating and implementing polices and projects are carried out under the direction of government and people were put in a passive position and were rarely consulted in development and usually have no active role in development activities. This government-led approach to development remained intact or even increased deep-rooted problems including economic and social disparities between social classes, genders, regions, and between urban and rural areas. Participatory development arose from consciousness of these inadequacies.

According to the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA, 1995), participatory development is not an attempt to replace the top-down development approach with local community-led approach but it attempts to compensate for or overcome the limitations and shortcomings of the top-down development approach by adopting a bottom-up style of development. …

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