31 October 2012

Africa: On Having Voice and Being Heard - Participation in the Post-2015 Policy Process

Blog

From their inception and formal agreement in 2000, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have played a significant (and also ambivalent) role in shaping policy agendas, directing aid around the globe, to combat poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation, and discrimination against women. This week, the Post-2015 UN High-Level Panel convenes in London to discuss the shape that the future global development agenda will take following 2015.

The Participate team will use this blog and Twitter to provide a unique window into the the discussions taking place in and around the HLP reflecting on and documenting the policy process as it unfolds. We will be blogging on the HLP meeting here, working with our partners in the Participatory Research Group, and providing regular updates through twitter using these hashtags: #worldwewant; #post2015; #beyond2015; #post2015HLP. Check back here for regular updates and follow the debate live on Twitter: @IDS_UK

The development policy climate is on the cusp of change and the imperative for active and participatory engagement is crucial to ensure that the post-2015 framework genuinely reflects the priorities of people most affected by poverty and injustice. The field of development, and of participatory research, has and perhaps always will be challenged by the difficulties posed by the disjuncture between the practice of people's lived realities and the policies that directly (and indirectly) affect them, between thoroughly listening to the voices of the most marginalised and ensuring that these voices are heard by policy makers.

This disjuncture calls us all - from marching academics and activists, to striking miners, from HIV community-health workers to international policy makers - to really look at the difference between having voice and being heard, and to hold ourselves and each other accountable in the process of creating a world where policies genuinely speak to people's needs. The Participate initiative reflects the imperative of listening to voices from the margins and ensuring that these voices are heard in the post-2015 process.

Working with partners in Latin and Central America, Africa, Asia and Europe, Participate aims to provide high quality evidence on the reality of poverty at ground level, bringing the perspectives of people living in poverty into the post-2015 debate. As discussed previously on this blog by Joanna Wheeler and Danny Burns, Participate is working with communities, social movements and civil society organisations in more than 25 countries across these regions, to draw together an extensive body of past and current participatory research in order to ensure that the perspectives of those most affected by poverty and injustice directly inform the post-2015 process.

Participate will use in-depth methods to gain insight in to the lives of people most affected by development. Some key activities include: creating a Ground Level Panel tomirror the work of the HLP; putting cameras in the hands of the poorest to make films, to share stories from their own lives and provide a more nuanced understanding of the subjective aspects and consequences of development; encouraging policy-makers to spend time living with people and learning firsthand from their experiences. More information on Participate's activities is available here.

Elizabeth Mills is a PhD candidate working on health, citizenship and HIV/AIDS within the IDS Knowledge, Technology and Science research team.

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