In conversation: Participatory development


The Challenges to Participatory Development Conference is part of the Australian Council for International Development University Linkages Partnership, which brings scholars and aid practitioners together to discuss important development issues.

The conference was held on Nov 28 and 29, and this interview is about participatory development, which involves including people who are affected by the development process to be an integral part of it, rather than being seen as merely a 'beneficiary'. Participatory development's catch cry might be 'ordinary people know best'. It has, however, been criticized for being tokenistic and not been able to address the issues of top down development and more recently results-based planning. This interview and the conference explores these issues from both academic and practitioner perspectives.

The Interviewees 

Prof Robert Chambers is a Fellow of the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex. He has worked on rural development in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, and popularised the idea of participatory development in the 1980s. He is author of Rural Development: Putting the Last First; and his latest book is: Provocations for Development. Prof Gita Sen combines a distinguished academic career with policy advocacy and NGO activism. She is a professor at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, India, and Adjunct Professor of Global Health and Population at the Harvard School of Public Health. Her recent work includes research and policy advocacy on the universal health care, the equity dimensions of health, and the gender dimensions of population policies. She is the author, co-author or co-editor of several books on these gender-related issues. She is a founding member of DAWN (Development Alternatives with Woman for a New Era).