پارادوکس توانمندسازی : تأملاتی روی یک مطالعه موردی از شمال غنا
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|5253||2001||19 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : World Development, Volume 29, Issue 1, January 2001, Pages 135–153
In recent years the “development” industry has began to incorporate into its vocabulary notions about the “empowerment of the poor,” “participatory democracy,” “gender in development” etc. as part of a strategy for poverty alleviation in the developing world. This paper critically examines the notion of participation as the basis of empowerment in the context of a joint Canadian–Ghanaian financed rural development project in the Northern Region of Ghana. The paper argues that because of the inherent goodness of the notion of participation, it has become a substitute for the structural reforms needed for social change. The paper raises questions not just about the terms and mode of participation but further points out that reference to the term “village” or “community” as the basis of participation is simplistic and problematic. The paper also questions the feasibility of the institutional and administrative structures within which such concepts may be realized.
In recent years the “development” industry globally has began to incorporate into its vocabulary notions about “empowerment of the poor,” “participatory development,” “gender in development” etc. as part of a strategy for poverty alleviation in the developing world. The use of these terms at least suggests a certain degree of dissatisfaction with earlier models of development. Furthermore, this demonstrates a recognition on the part of the development industry that the process of social development is facilitated if the intended beneficiaries participate fully in the making and implementation of decisions that affect their lives or what they perceive as development. In the foreword to a World Bank publication, Listen to the People, the Vice President, Operations Policy states: The World Bank is interested in incorporating the peoples's perspective into project work so as to narrow the gap between professionals and the intended beneficiaries. Methods of attending to cultural and behavioural factors—listening to the people—… are as important to effective development work as are the more widely tools of financial or economic analysis.1 In effect, the discussions centers around a theme of initiating development through the action of local people by means of development projects which enhance the “claim-making” capacities of local people. Undoubtedly, the emergence of a participatory element in development discourse is not a bad thing, since it offers the possibility of opening up spaces in which the citizenry could be part and parcel of the cultural and socioeconomic structures of society. The belief seems to be that once people are “empowered,” development becomes both attainable and sustainable. Some of the ideas for empowerment focus on initiating development from below and increasing people's participation in the development process. As Cohen and Uphoff indicate, concern with participation has become so popular that one can hardly be against the concept and promoting participation becomes good by definition.2 In this paper, I reflect critically on participation, as the basis for empowerment in the context of a joint Canadian–Ghanaian financed rural development project in the Northern Region of Ghana, referred to as the Northern Region Rural Integrated Program (NORRIP). The paper argues that because of the inherent goodness of the notion of participation, it has become a substitute for the structural reforms needed for social change. Thus the focus on participation is narrow and ignores many of the contextual issues, which remain out of the control or influence of the beneficiaries of the development project. The paper raises questions not just about the terms and mode of participation but further points out that reference to the term village or community as the basis of participation is simplistic, problematic and gives the impression of homogeneity. Furthermore, the paper questions the feasibility of the institutional and administrative structures within which such concepts may be realized and makes the case that a focus on local participation and empowerment can provide the state with a legitimate opportunity for shirking its responsibilities by dumping them on local areas even though those areas lack the resources needed.3 Historically, the terms participation and participatory development as Majid Rahnema reminds us, appeared in development discourse around the 1950s, and were used by social workers and field activist who were frustrated by the failure of earlier models of development which advocated a “top-down” strategy for development.4 The mainstream development establishment some years later started to acknowledge the failures of the top-down strategy and thus agreed with the then marginalized knowledge that the failure of most development projects to achieve their goals and targets was in part due to the fact that the main beneficiaries of such projects had often been left out of the whole developmental process. Thus the consensus now among various categories of development field workers is that whenever the beneficiaries are locally involved and actively participate in their own development endeavors, much more will be accomplished. Perhaps the writings of the Paulo Freire5, the Brazilian educator provides one of the strongest affirmations of the value of participation, particularly among hitherto poor and dominated social classes. As Freire points out, whenever any social class becomes oppressed and is reduced to a culture of silence, that group is denied participation in the creation of its own humanity and as such, becomes only an object of knowledge. When this group is mobilized to participate in decision making for social development, the group begins to create its own history and engages in its own process of development. This is not to suggest, however, there is unanimity about what participation should entail. As a review of the literature elsewhere suggests, participation means different things to different people.6 Gow and Vansant's four affirmations below summarize the importance of participation in development: —People organize best around problems they consider most important. —Local people tend to make better economic decisions and judgments in the context of their own environment and circumstances. —Voluntary provision of labor, time, money and materials to a project is a necessary condition for breaking patterns of dependency and passivity. —The local control over the amount, quality and benefits of development activities helps make the process self-sustaining.7 What these four affirmations suggest is that participation means more than just an occasional meeting in which local people are briefed about plans by project implementers. Rather, any meaningful participation implies at a minimum the process in which local communities discover the possibilities of exercising choice and becoming capable of managing what they understand as development. It is important that theoretically I locate myself as to how I use the term development. I do not use the term development as that which is self-evident and needed by all poor societies no matter their peculiar needs, circumstances and history.8 On the contrary, I problematize the notion of development and propose to understand development as a practice. That is to say, development should be understood as an arena of negotiations and struggle, which is historically constructed and may take unpredictable turns but usually involves interaction between different social actors.9 Such an approach, for instance, enables me to examine the role of the intended targets of developmental intervention and to find out whether they were capable of exerting any influence of their own. In what follows, I provide an overview of the goals and objectives of NORRIP and also discuss the salient aspects of the Integrated Village Water Project (IVWP). I examine the conditions under which the villages were organized for participation in the NORRIP water project paying particular attention to the socioeconomic environment of the villages and the institutional and administrative structures under which participation was institutionalized. I then conclude by indicating how participation has become a substitute for structural reforms.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The inability of most villages within Yendi and East Mamprusi Districts to fulfill the essential conditions to become beneficiaries of the potable water project by NORRIP raises essential questions for the study of development in current times. In particular, as the development industry globally incorporates into its vocabulary notions about participation, empowerment and sustainability, feasibility of the approach comes into question. In the context of this study, one of such questions NORRIP raises is how institutions create the parameters of what constitutes development in such a way that participation becomes a critical component. I argue that this constitution of development with its emphasis on participation, empowerment and sustainability in development projects reflects a blindness to the wider socioeconomic processes which contributed to the need for development.70 Conceptually, from the point of view of NORRIP, the notion of participation involves the formation of committees to administer and manage the water system. This notion of participation may not be inherently bad. At the least it gives the technical and managerial skills to poor village communities and enables them to repair and manage their handpumps. Further, NORRIP's project of providing potable water was accompanied by messages about basic hygiene and the benefits of ensuring that water is always clean and stored properly for household use. Thus the provision of water was not to end with the installation of the handpump. In fact, in the two project districts, when I asked what NORRIP signified, the response was water. NORRIP thus became synonymous with development because of its involvement with water. But, this notion of participation which is managerial and technocratic may be limiting. We now turn to the question of community or village as used as a core component for the support base of IVWP project. The use of the term community involvement appears to be self-evident by the program sponsors when discussing just who participates in the IVWP. The sector paper of the IVWP stresses that: Community involvement is critical to sustainability and will embrace all aspects of the programme. […] The intention will be to give communities as much involvement in decision-making as possible, consistent with technical aspects of the programme. … The intention will be to involve members of the community at all levels (especially women) and not only at the formal hierarchy. […] It is intended that the whole programme be presented to communities and implemented on the basis of full ownership and responsibility by the community. It will be their programme and their pump. A handover and inauguration ceremony will formally accomplish the transfer of GOG's interests to the community.71 Even though the concept of village or “community involvement” is central to the IVWP, it is poorly defined and used loosely to refer only to a socio-spatial entity.72 The use of the term village or community involvement is silent about the fact that even poor rural communities are not homogenous and may be comprised of the poor, the very poor and the not so poor who have differential access to resources. As such, this use—of the term village or community in the Report—directs attention away from the internal politics in the village and from questions of the nature of actual social relations and the distribution of wealth.73 This fact raises the question of just who participates in the community. As Jackson cautions, the dynamics of participation are complex: even the smallest and poorest of communities have within them the relatively better off and the absolute poor. There are family divisions and often ethnic, racial or religious divisions within communities as well. Women usually have less access to money and power than men, as do children and (most) old people …. All of these factors influence the access individuals and households to money and power.74 How then do all these factors influence the outcome of development? The case of NORRIP is instructive. The project's concept of participation, which is managerial and technocratic, is limiting and may contain the seeds of its failure. This stems from a constitution of development which sets limits on the villagers' participation. The villagers' participation in the NORRIP projects did not allow them to define for themselves their priority needs. The villagers' participation was embedded in a program initiated from outside and to that extent they were only empowered by the terms of participation as set out in the development program.75 For instance NORRIP's IVWP was not linked to a serious systematic economic effort to enhance the socioeconomic capabilities of communities, which are significantly below the poverty line in terms of per capita income.76 Attention was only given to the willingness of the local communities to raise their initial share of contributions for the borehole so that they could possess an indicator of “modernity”—a handpump fitted potable water system. The project failed to allow villages in the target districts to define their priority needs, and thus the villages did not acquire a stronger position in which to generate revenue through a re-organization of their socioeconomic environment. Instead, the communities might have entered into a new form of dependency, one in which they had to depend on outside forces for assistance in maintaining hand pumps. This fact certainly threatens the notion of villagers' ability to sustain the borehole in the longer term. The villagers of East Mamprusi and Yendi, in the context of NORRIP, should be seen as resources for development and not its progenitors. Majid Rahnema's comment, which he borrowed from Karl Polyani's description of the modern economy, is pertinent to the situation of NORRIP. He points out that: participation has come to be “disembedded” from the socio-cultural roots which has always kept it alive. It is now simply perceived as one of the many “resources” needed to keep the economy alive. To participate is thus reduced to the act of partaking in the objectives of the economy, and the societal arrangements related to it …. For the modern construct of participation, a person should be part of a predefined project, more specifically, an economic project, in order to qualify a participant.77 Sustainability of the IVWP is also threatened at another level if one realizes that community development is a continuous process and as such may require on-going support from both the regional and district levels of government. In a situation where the primary institutional vehicle for rural adult education and literary is a inadequately-funded Department of Community Development, there is serious doubt as to whether on-going support will be available.78 This is confirmed in the monitoring report for April 1993–October 1993. The monitors note that “the long-term sustainability of capabilities acquired at the district level will depend on continued financial and logistical support. This is especially crucial in the case of DCD which will have difficulties in maintaining and replacing facilities which have been provided by NORRIP II.”79 Another important aspect of organizational sustainability is the establishment of a system of access to affordable inputs in the form of the spare parts that may be needed to maintain the boreholes. With the current macroeconomic climate of structural adjustment policies, emphasizing cost recovery and privatization, among other issues, it is doubtful whether most of the NORRIP communities will be able to afford the open market prices of basic replacement parts, as NORRIP allows private distributors to handle the procurement of these inputs. The failure to ensure that participation enlarges the socioeconomic choices of the villagers of East Mamprusi and Yendi, in the words of Jackson “amounts to promoting [participation] with poverty, which is utterly irresponsible, not to mention undeniably unsustainable.”80 These concepts—“community participation,” “empowerment,” “governance” and “sustainability”—have gained unprecedented visibility and respectability among the large multilateral and bilateral aid agencies. Indeed, the World Bank, the United Nations and most bilateral programs have made participatory approaches as part of policy papers and project design criteria. Yet, there remains a need for researchers and policy makers to pay critical attention to what these concepts mean in practice. This calls into question the relationship between the state, community participation and development. The literature on community participation state and development in Africa has predominantly showed how the post-colonial state systematically co-opted and directed all efforts at community participation in development.81 Hence most advocates of community participation understandably reject state involvement in the promotion of community participation. The argument is that state involvement perpetuates the old top-down approach to social development, thus stiflingly initiative and local self-reliance. Though these views may be popular and are currently reinforced by structural adjustment policies, which advocate a complete state withdrawal in social development. Such a position tends to ignore the fact: “the state is today a major provider of social development services and … largely determines how social development programmes will evolve. The state also has the power to shape and determine the nature of community participation activities in many Third World societies.”82 Thus it would be a mistake to ignore the role of the state. The important role of the Ghanaian state is reiterated in one of the program principles underlying the overall operations of NORRIP that this is the Government of Ghana's development program for the Northern Region, not Canada's Program. The socioeconomic environment of the districts that I described is one that will need structural and institutional transformation to qualitatively address issues of poverty. The resources made available through NORRIP either in the form of institutional strengthening or subsidizing the purchase of handpumps are inadequate and it seems that in the process community participation became a substitute for the structural reforms needed for the region. Because it is difficult to challenge the inherent goodness of community participation the concept has become a double-edged sword sometimes used to justify the state's evasion of its responsibilities. In the context of Northern Ghana, while community participation may have been a necessary condition for the rural people of Northern Ghana to manage their affairs, this concept was presented as a kind of magical “missing ingredient” from the development package which once provided would guarantee success irrespective of other considerations such as the structural, administrative and political pre-conditions necessary for participation to function.83 To reiterate, while this concept of participation may try to promote the belief that the poor villages of Northern Ghana should be able to establish their own potable water systems from their own resources so as to become self-reliant and autonomous, this case study illustrates a form of participation that fails to recognize that local resources are insufficient to meet local needs and does not allow the people to define for them selves their priority needs. The villagers in this case no longer become the progenitors of development but simply a resource to be used for development. In sum, the discourse of participation and empowerment as used within the context of Northern Ghana becomes the new ideological terrain in which the villagers of the rural communities of Northern Ghana do not decide what is developmentally relevant and are only allowed to participate in a developmental project without questioning the conditions under which they are allowed to develop.