Benefits of Participation

Submitted by Ben Smith | published 23rd Jul 2011 | last updated 23rd Jul 2011
  • Participatory initiatives are likely to be sustainable as they build on local capacity, the participants have 'ownership' of them and they are more likely to be compatible with long term development plans.
  • Working closely with local people can help professionals gain a greater insight into the communities that they serve, enabling them to work more effectively and produce better results.
  • They enable people to express their real needs and priorities, allowing problems to be defined correctly and responsive measures to be designed and implemented
  • The principle resource available for responding to climate change impacts is people themselves and their local knowledge and expertise.
  • Participatory work takes a multi-track approach. It can combine information from many different sources, qualitative and quantitative data and different phases of a process. It is therefore perfect for dealing with complex issues where there are diverse opinions.
  • The process of working and achieving things together can strengthen communities. It can reinforce local organisation, building up confidence, skills, capacity to co-operate, consciousness, awareness and critical appraisal. In this way it increases people's potential for reducing their vulnerability. It empowers people more generally by enabling them to tackle other challenges, individually and collectively.
  • Participation in the planning and implementation of projects by stakeholders accords with people's rights to participate in decisions that affect their lives. It is therefore an important part of democratisation in society and is increasingly demanded by the public.
  • Participatory approaches may be more cost effective, in the long term, than externally driven initiatives, partly because they are more likely to be sustainable and because the process allows the ideas to be tried and tested and refined before adoption.

(adapted from Twigg, 2001)

    When done effectively, participation enables different groups to work together by identifying common ground - areas on which all groups can agree a common interest, for example preservation of a nature reserve. Stakeholders may have firmly held but differing beliefs about the best way to preserve the nature reserve but their desire to protect it is shared. By starting with the common ground, the aspects that everyone can agree to, there is an automatic reduction in conflict and the respect between the stakeholders grows. People who work with or are affected by an issue are generally very good at working out solutions to their own problems if they are given the time and the resources to do so.