Participatory Development Essay

Participatory Development Essay

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Golooba-Mutebi’s report on decentralization and popular participation in Uganda highlights the shortcomings of participatory development. He traces the development path followed within the primary health care sector and concludes that decentralization and popular participation have failed to correct the short comings thought to have been a result of the top-down political system previously in place. He does not support the top-down approach and acknowledges its shortcomings, but argues that decentralization fails to correct them.

Enthusiasts of participatory development stress empowerment and accountability. Golooba-Mutebi correctly argues that the transfer of power does not necessarily lead to empowerment, and that local level management does not lead to greater accountability. While decentralization and popular participation in Uganda’s primary health sector did yield improvements in infrastructure, it failed to address service delivery and accountability. This is where Golooba-Mutebi makes his greatest contribution. Following authors such as Hyden and Chaason, he argues that participatory development makes little significance in states that are weak. He does not argue, as do authors like Cooke, against the usage of participatory development. But rather states that efforts made using the participatory development model, within the framework of a weak state, are bound to be insignificant.

Golooba-Mutebi identifies two broad obstacles present in weak states that hinder participatory development efforts; limited access to resources and restricted information and knowledge. He argues that community health workers failed to provide adequate services as a result of not receiving their salaries on time. This lead to various fo...


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...ticipatory development continues to bring about seemingly positive results

Johnston argues that the understanding of community participation is taken for granted. She believes that participation may be defined according to the level of responsibility the participant is afforded. Ranging from powerless to being creatively in control she identifies several levels of participation. Johnston goes on to argue that the level of responsibility one acquires is directly related to the extent of their knowledge. The more informed and individual is, the greater the meaning a particular initiative will carry- the greater the meaning, the greater the (level of) participation. Through creative participation in the development process the individual becomes empowered. This ties in with Golooba-Mutebi’s argument that knowledge is key to the success of participatory development.

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