Evaluating community participation in development projects
Community participation is a concept that is frequently mentioned in community development. Practitioners in development believe that in order for projects to succeed, communities need to actively take part in designing, implementing and shaping the projects that affect them. The aim of this thesis is to evaluate community participation by measuring quantitative and qualitative indicators of participation. It is important to note that there are no universal indicators of participation. The thesis presents three projects as case studies. In order to measure participation in the three cases, the quantitative and qualitative indicators of participation of Oakley et al. are reviewed. The indicators are applied across all three cases and the analysis indicates whether they were high, low or absent. It is also important to note that to measure participation effectively requires one to spend lengthy periods at the project site and this proved to be a challenge, as will be shown in the thesis. The thesis also demonstrates that to a large extent community participation is contextual. Of the three projects, two were rural projects and one an urban project. The two rural projects, Mongoaneng Development Forum and TsweloPele Women‟s Co-operative, were initiated by members of the community and aimed at addressing issues of poverty. The urban project, Motherwell Youth Development Forum, was specifically targeting young people with the aim of providing them with skills. Key findings include the fact that each of the cases was highly diverse, and furthermore, when measuring these cases, a common thread was that not all participation indicators were present at any given stage. Another key finding is that co-operation amongst project members tends to yield positive results and the reverse yields negative results. Another finding relates to the sustainability of the projects, pointing to the fact that even though two of the cases were doing well, their sustainability was questionable.