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Section 2. Participatory Approaches to Planning Community Interventions

What is a participatory planning approach?

___You know that a participatory planning approach means that all stakeholders' voices are heard and respected, and that everyone has some role in decision-making.

What are the advantages of a participatory planning approach?

___Participation carries with it feelings of ownership, and builds a strong base for the intervention in the community

___It ensures that the intervention will have more credibility in all segments of the community because it was planned by a group representing all segments of the community

___It brings a broader range of people to the planning process provides access to a broader range of perspectives and ideas

___Avoids pitfalls caused by ignorance of the realities of the community or the target population

___It involves important players from the outset

___It can provide an opportunity for often-disenfranchised groups to be heard

___It teaches skills which last far beyond the planning process,and can help to improve the community over the long term

___It can bring together and establish ties among community members who might normally have no contact

___It builds trust, both between your organization and the community and among the individuals involved

___It generally reflects the mission and goals of grass roots and community-based organizations

___It implies respect for everyone in the community

___It is generally effective

___It does things the way they should be done

What are the disadvantages of a participatory planning approach?

___A participatory process takes longer

___Members of the target population or the community may not agree with the "experts " about what is needed

___Lots of education may be needed, both for community members and the organization

___One determined individual can wreck the whole process if he's not handled well

___It may be difficult to assure that all the right people get to the table

___A participatory planning process takes patience and commitment on everyone's part

What are the levels of participatory planning?



___Deciding together

___Acting together

___Supporting local initiatives

When is participatory planning appropriate?

___Information-only may be appropriate when:

  • The course of action has already been decided - by a funder, for instance
  • You're simply reporting on something that's already in progress
  • You're keeping people informed so that they'll have the information to be part of a participatory effort later

___Consultation-only may be appropriate when:

  • You want to evaluate or improve existing services
  • There are limited options, and you're trying to choose among them
  • There are technical reasons - again, perhaps because of a funder - why only certain people or groups can be officially involved in the planning process

___Acting together may be appropriate when:

  • The intervention will be more effective than if it were run by a single entity
  • There is a funder's requirement for community oversight
  • There is commitment to the development of a real partnership
  • Everyone benefits from acting together
  • One goal of the intervention is the eventual assumption of leadership or the learning of leadership skills by the target population and/or others in the community

___Supporting local initiatives may be appropriate when:

  • There is a commitment to community empowerment.
  • The community has the desire and at least some of the tools to start and run a successful intervention.
  • There is a commitment to provide training and support where needed.
  • Your organization can only provide support, or can only run an intervention for a short time.

When isn't participatory planning appropriate?

___When there's simply no time

___When a community is so brutally divided, it's impossible to get all - or even any - of the rival factions to the same table

___When there's no way to provide proper support - facilitation, structure, etc. - for the process

___When the target population is simply not interested in participating, and just wants the organization to take care of it

___When the intervention rests on technical knowledge of a kind that the target population and community members simply don't have

___When involving all or most stakeholders simply isn't logistically possible, because of distance, time, or other issues

___When funding constraints or funders' regulations don't allow it

___When there is no trust between your organization and the community

Who should be involved in a participatory planning process?

___Targets of change

  • Members of the target community
  • People whom the target community sees as significant opinion makers

___Agents of change

  • Policy makers
  • Influential people in the community

___Interested members of the community at large

___Members of the organization itself

What do you have to do to get a participatory planning process up and running?

___You've identified all the individuals and groups who need to be involved

___You've gotten the message about the planning process out to everyone who needs to be informed

___You've chosen someone to convene the process

___You've held an initial meeting, for which:

  • You've personally invited as many people as possible
  • You've planned meeting times around the convenience of those attending, rather than the convenience of the organization
  • You've held the meeting in a place that's convenient and comfortable for everyone involved
  • You've provided some food and drink
  • You've considered carefully who'll run the meeting
  • If the community is multilingual, you've made sure to have translators present, or to present everything in multiple languages, so that everyone feels included
  • You've planned activities so that everyone at the meeting has a chance to be heard, either in the larger group or in a smaller one
  • By the end of the meeting, there was a clear next step, and everyone knew what it was

___You've chosen someone to guide the planning process

___You've decided who will approve a final plan

___You've decided how long the planning process will go on