1 November 2012

Africa: Participate - Knowledge From the Margins for Post-2015

Blog

The Participate initiative is providing high quality evidence on the reality of poverty at ground level, bringing the perspectives of the poorest into the post-2015 debate.

Participate aims to:

-Bring perspectives of those in poverty into decision-making processes

-Embed participatory research in global policy-making

-Use research with the poorest as the basis for advocacy with decision-makers

-Ensure that marginalised people have a central role in holding decision-makers to account in the post-2015 process

-Generate knowledge, understanding and relationships for the global public good

Key activities include:

-Reviewing lessons from large-scale consultation processes

-Facilitating a global Participatory Research Group (PRG)

-Analysing and synthesising recent and current participatory studies

-Encouraging policy-makers to spend time living with and hearing from people in the poorest communities

-Creating a Ground Level Panel to mirror the work of the High Level Panel

-Putting cameras in the hands of the poorest to make their own films that tell their own stories

-Building partnerships with NGOs and other agencies doing research in the poorest communities

Participate is co-convened by the Institute of Development Studies and Beyond 2015, but the initiative is only possible because of the energy, expertise and vision of numerous organisations committed to participatory research. Participate is funded by the UK Government. For more information contact participate@ids.ac.uk

Reviewing lessons from large-scale consultation processes

Previous global consultations have been experienced by many as ‘extractive’ – with poor people feeling that their voice has been used for political ends which are not their own. There are considerable lessons to be learned about what to do, and what not to do, if the future of development is to be ‘owned’ by those who are most affected by it.

Facilitating a global Participatory Research Group (PRG)

Current participatory research projects gathering knowledge from the margins on the post-2015 debate are brought together through the PRG.

This group is supported through methodological workshops for reflection and innovation, including participatory visual work and documentation of the processes involved. Read more information on the PRG Members or view a map. The list features partners participated as of January 2013; full membership of the PRG is not yet finalised.

Analysing and synthesising recent and current participatory studies

Two analyses are being carried out: the first will be of recent participatory studies that pertain to the MDGs; the second will be of all of the current participatory work. Synthesis will be conducted in an iterative way, with findings translated into a series of comprehensive research outputs and key policy messages for decision makers, while retaining their legitimacy with the people who produced them.

Encouraging policy-makers to spend time living with and hearing from people in the poorest communities

It is critical to bring knowledge from the margins to policymakers, but it is equally important to bring policymakers to the margins themselves.

Participate is therefore faciliting immersions for key policymakers with poor and marginalised communities. An ‘immersion’ involves living, eating, sleeping and working with people living in poverty for a number of days and nights. The process gives decision makers the opportunity to relate to people on a personal level and to learn firsthand from their experiences.

Creating a Ground Level Panel (GLP) to mirror the work of the High Level Panel (HLP)

Participate will also organise a GLP to deliberate on the future of development and produce its own recommendations. Among others, the participants will include dwellers of city slums, pastoralists who walk with cattle across bush lands in search of water, refugees from war, and small farmers whose crops have failed in response to climate change.

Putting cameras in the hands of the poorest to make their own films that tell their own stories

Participatory visual processes can reveal and communicate powerfully about experiences from the margins. Six participatory visual processes are being supported and facilitated which provides contextualised examples of the complex and nuanced understanding of the subjective aspects and consequences of development. In parallel, a documentary film is drawing together learning on the key themes that surface, and how such processes can re-position ground level perspectives for open dialogue with policy-makers.

Building partnerships with NGOs and other agencies doing research in the poorest communities

With an emphasis on engaging marginal communities directly, this initiative is distinct from efforts to engage civil society organisations in the post-2015 debate. However, this work provides a valuable means of triangulating and verifying evidence from both sources, and we will build partnerships with relevant NGO and CSO led advocacy efforts to multiply impact where possible.

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