Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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4.4.5 What can participation achieve?

In relation to the technology transfer discussion, participation can be seen as essentially the opposite to top-down, external-expert determined approaches, whether at international or national levels. The process is broader than consultation and is usually dependent on capacity-building (see Section 4.5) to be effective.

In many projects participation has taken place during implementation, but more seldom in project formulation, management, control over resources and distribution of benefits. Conversely, large MDBs have only recently made a commitment to supporting participatory approaches and their experience is mostly in the planning stages (World Bank, 1996). Participatory rural appraisal took off in India due to the involvement of senior government staff (Blackburn and Holland, 1998). It has been found to be a crucial tool to engage the 'main protagonists' rather than regarding them as 'targeted beneficiaries' and thus increased success (Malhotra et al., 1998). Frequently, small-scale, community-specific projects aiming at social objectives are a common form of donor assistance to the promotion of participation.

Systematic evaluations of measurement of the costs and benefits of participation are scarce, but generally indicate that the costs, in terms of time and money spent, tend to be relatively higher for participatory projects in the course of their early phases (OECD, 1997). The initial investments in participation, however, tend to pay off in terms of increased efficiency and sustainability, and in saving time in subsequent phases.

Furthermore, it is widely recognised that people and civil society are key players to maintain long-term efforts on anti-corruption programmes (Heiman and Zucker Boswell, 1998; Klitgaard, 1998). Public awareness campaigns can focus on the harm done by corruption, the misuse of public money, denied access to public services, and the public duty to complain when public officials act corruptly. Such campaigns can empower civil organisations to monitor, detect and reverse the activities of the public officials in their midst, by drawing on the expertise of accountants, lawyers, academics, non-governmental organisations, the private sector, religious leaders and ordinary citizens (Kindra, 1998).

There are a number of tools and methods which are used within participatory approaches depending on what stage participation is being used and whether poor or powerful stakeholders are being engaged. Table 5.2 summarises the main methods used.

Participation can thus achieve:

  • Better choices and identification of possibilities and opportunities in local systems
  • Better commitment to projects which improves implementation and sustainability
  • Opportunities to negotiate conflicts
  • Empowerment- which raises awareness about the need for stakeholders to achieve solutions themselves.
  • Access to additional resources for the project raised from the target project beneficiaries through payments, and time.

Some recent practice with participatory methods has shown a range of benefits in climate relevant technology (see Table 4.3).

Table 4.3 Methods and Tools for Participatory Development (Source: World Bank, 1996)

Appreciation- Influence-Control (AIC).
AIC is a work-shop based technique that encourages stakeholders to consider the social, political, and cultural f actors along with technical and economic aspects that influence a given project or policy.

Objectives-oriented project planning (ZOPP).
The main purpose of ZOPP is to undertake participatory, objectives-oriented- planning that spans the life of the project or policy work, including implementation and monitoring, while building stakeholder team commitment and capacity with a series of workshops.

Team-Up builds on ZOPP but emphasises team building, it uses a computer software package (PC/Team-UP) . It enables teams to undertake participatory objectives-oriented planning and action while fostering a "learning-by-doing " atmosphere.

  • Stakeholders establish working relationships
  • Promotes ownership
  • Stakeholders establish rules of the game
  • Support may be needed for non-experienced participants

Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA).
PRA is a label given to a growing family of participatory approaches and methods that emphasis local knowledge and enable local people to do their own appraisal, analysis, and planning. PRA uses group animation and exercises to facilitate information sharing, analysis and action among stakeholders.

SARAR promotes five attributes: self-esteem, associative strengths, resourcefulness, action planning and responsibility. Its purpose is to (a) provide a multisectoral, multi-level approach to team building through training (b) encourage participants to learn from local experience rather than from external experts and (c) empower people at the community and agency levels to initiate action.

  • Demystifies research and planning processes by drawing on everyday experience.
  • Participants feel empowered by their participation.
  • Local communities have to be provided with decision-making authority in the project and/ or involvement in project management.

Beneficiary Assessment (BA).
BA is a systematic investigation of the perceptions of the poor and hard to reach beneficiaries, thereby highlighting constraints to beneficiary participation and (b) obtain feedback on development interventions.

  • Field based needing time for regular consultation and interactions.

Social Assessment (SA).
SA is the systematic assessment of the social processes and factors that affect development impacts and results. Objectives of SA are to (a) identify key stakeholders and establish the appropriate framework for their participation; (b) ensure that project objectives and incentives for change are appropriate and acceptable to beneficiaries, (c) assess social impacts and risks; and (d) minimise or mitigate adverse impacts.

Gender Analysis (GA).
GA focuses on understanding and documenting the differences in gender roles, activities, needs and opportunities in a given context.

  • Provides a process for building information from local communities into plans and plans into action.
  • Need focused data analysis and needs experienced local consultants.

Problems Arising with Participation
There are a number of problems that arise with participation:

  • The commitment of considerable time and resources may not be available though completion of the project. Needs can also change. Over time stakeholders become capable of demanding and paying for goods and services from government and private sector agencies, and a this stage it is necessary to move from welfare-oriented approaches and to focus on building sustainable, market-based based financial systems and to strengthen local institutions. Capacity building for participation is essential and cannot be achieved over short time scales (Harkes, 1998).
  • Considerable efforts are needed by all stakeholders to participate. The use of NGOs as intermediaries may have its own set of problems. The NGO label includes widely different kinds of organisations, some of which are working in a participatory manner while others do not. Additionally, NGO representativeness and accountability often remains unclear.
  • There are constraints at a policy level, which impinge on the effectiveness of participation in relation to peoples' rights and access to information, and there may be resistance within bureaucracies to work in innovative ways.
  • There may be opposition from some stakeholders who stand to gain if alternative courses of action are pursued. To overcome this the active engagement of players keen for the process and project to succeed may be necessary by the project leaders. The participation of multiple stakeholders and social groups require negotiation processes that are difficult to influence and require a strong institutional focus (Neefjes, 1998). This can mean that participatory, process driven approaches re-create complex institutional structures. "Complexity itself can be the enemy of sustainability" (OECD, 1997).
  • There may not always be a happy ending. Some stakeholders may withdraw if their views do not get general agreement. Parts of the project may need to be dropped in order for success in other areas (World Bank, 1996).
  • The practical experience is rather limited. At a technical and procedural level there is a need to further develop evaluation frameworks, procedures and indicators that better accommodate participation processes. There is a key role for multilateral agencies. Further development of operational guidelines, evaluation frameworks, methods, procedures and indicators that better accommodate participatory processes are needed.

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