Thanks for coming to virtual classroom for the last time for this course. A question was uploaded to reflect upon the importance of participatory research tools.
Why are participatory research tools critical in development practices?
A point was also made that if you have used similar tools elsewhere do share. Since I was associated with one of similar participatory research tool, at the end I have shared the same. This is simply to critically analyse whether you have also used something similar but little change in perception and design an innovative and made to order participatory research tool.Here is our collective thoughts:
By now all of us have understood that in participatory research community is in the centre of each process. Our experiences also reinforces that it is essential to utilise all our resources optimally. Participatory research tools are based on above understanding and increasingly becoming critical to development practices be they are Govt., social development practitioners, donors, community or others.
The aspects which make it critical are shared here:
Align External Expertise Vs Practical Internal Experiences The researcher being an expert mostly are not familiar with the reality of community and tend to apply a general blue print available which mostly do not fit all. But when PR tool is applied a picture which is close to community emerges, Nazmul reflects that these promise a move away from the outside expert and tokenistic involvement, placing emphasis on negotiating and developing relationships in specific cultural/ spatial/ political/ historical contexts. Hejbullah shares that it promotes action through self-awareness reflection. When people themselves engage in the reflective processes, they are able to analyze their situations better and take actions accordingly. Community members are more likely to accept the legitimacy of the research and buy into its findings if they know it was conducted by people like themselves, perhaps even people they know. Hejbullah feels that they are the key players who best know their community, their local context, their problem, their opportunity rather than any outsider or researcher/investigator.
Cost Effective Process Since local knowledge, expertise and solutions are focused, it uses local resources and makes it a very cost effective processes.
Bottom Up solutions are essentials as it uses local wisdom and local context to solve local problem. These are easily understandable and replicable. Tuhin writes the local knowledge is used through these tools that create more context specific findings and solution of a certain problem. Nazmul shares Participatory Research tools encourage a political stance derived from conditions of inequality and oppression. Taniya mentions by consulting those whose needs the plans are meant to fulfill, the resultant development interventions are more likely to be relevant and appropriate to those needs. Gaffer shares that in development practices, Participatory Research tools are one of the effective weapons to involve peoples to identify, analyze and make solution of their problems in any development issue. Mirza Moinul Shared that the Participatory Research tools are so powerful which make sure involvement of community people, reflect their own perception, generate their idea, analyze their local context which are ultimately contributed to unfold answers of so many research questions.
Creating Community Organisation is a bye product and strengthened thus a social capital is left within community even if the external supports move out. Taniya reflects that it opens up the operations of the government and development agencies to public scrutiny and help set up mechanisms whereby these agencies are held accountable for the implementation of the plans. Tuhin shares it creates mass involvement regarding solving/analyzing of a situation/issue.
Unification of Diverse Perspectives is essential to complete the process of participatory research tools. Unless community is able to do so the processes may not yield desired results. Taniya experiences that by working together, different stakeholder groups develop mutual understanding and trust among themselves and can learn how to collaborate on any follow-up activities and any future joint initiatives. Gaffer expresses that participatory research tools are advocacy tools for decision makers, policy makers, service providers and other stakeholders in any development issue.
Cascading Effect is seen as it builds the capacity in the process of application of participatory research tools and can be used in solving other problems. Sometimes it helps the problem to nip in the bud. Hejbullah shares participatory research tools trains’ citizen researchers who can turn their skills to other problems as well. Skills learned in the course of participatory research carry over into other areas of researchers’ lives.
Sustainability is the key for using resources optimally. Tuhin shares Participatory tools create empowerment and sustainability of a resolved matter. Taniya mentions that to give a sustainable form of development participatory research tools are mandatory with no doubt. Moinul feels that the Participatory Research tools also be considered as an empowerment, (hence sustainable) sensitization and advocacy tools in any development issues. Hejbullah shares it moves communities toward positive social change.
Tuhin feels that his work for the care and protection of children affected by AIDS and children of sex workers, (innovative and specific) participatory tools can easily overcome the barriers of getting information on various issues and needs. Masud reflects that to him, when he is planning to do a big sample size research (research on how the foreign remittance impact on children’s life) the Participatory methods may seem complex. He continues that expressing the research findings and reaching solid recommendation become complex in Participatory Research. Masud, as you visit PRIA portal and website, do click on reports where PR has been applied in big sample size research spread over many countries. Also check on the recommendations made. My experience…. if the size is big generally findings are many; but recommendations are made few as to be able to apply cross cutting all contexts. Khaleda again a late submission but rapport building/identifying key stakeholder/s in the community is the key to all `but’ you have highlighted; these are practical problems (Recall urban field visit).
Rahul, let me share a brief note on `Citizen report card: A participatory tool in development practice’. This may help you to understand difference between participatory research tool and participatory research method.
Citizen Report Cards (an innovative tool) are participatory surveys that solicit user feedback on the quality and performance of public services in order to raise citizen awareness and ultimately bring about reforms in the public service delivery systems such as primary health care, water supply, public transport, elementary education etc.
The survey enables an overall assessment of the performance of a public agency based on the customer/client/citizens’ experience ( through formats prepared and filled by citizen, group discussion –methods) captured in terms of their satisfaction in relation to specific attributes of services such as access, availability, quality and reliability, along with agency responsiveness and transparency of the service provider.
Survey findings are placed in the public domain through the use of media and public meetings (method) thus making it an effective participatory research tool to promote transparency, responsiveness and public accountability.
Just an experience shared ….an innovative tool practiced by PRIA.
It was a wonderful experience to be this part of the course whereby I enhanced my knowledge and understanding on Participatory Research. I thank each one of you for letting me learn all along. A great journey of e- learning!!!!
Looking forward to a draft copy of assignment 6 by 30th Nov 2014,
All the best,