Much past analysis of community participation , in programmes designed to produce either housing or infrastructure, is incomplete as a guide to governments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in terms of the approach required to achieve success in this area. There are two main problems to consider when analysing this issue: one is whether community participation is practised at all, the other is how. This paper focuses on the former, aiming at providing some basis of understanding on the latter. Here, community participation is not seen as being just a means to enable the people to get, through mutual-help initiatives and possibly with outside help, the basic needs which, otherwise, would not be available to them, but also as a means to influence decisions in the political arena about issues that affect them. Existing models of community participation, such as Arnstein's ladder of citizen participation, although adequate for analysis in developed countries, provide misleading results within a development context. A tentative classification for the evaluation of participation within underdeveloped countries is suggested, based on the degree of the external institutional involvement in terms of facilitating/carrying out community mutual-help projects. These levels of involvement are arranged in the form of a ladder composed of the following rungs: empowerment, partnership, conciliation, dissimulation, diplomacy, informing, conspiracy and self-management. Examples are used to illustrate these concepts. Cases of empowerment and self-management, at the opposite extremes of the ladder, demonstrate that basic needs can be achieved with or without governmental support.
Habitat International – Elsevier
Published: Sep 1, 1996
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