Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 A new strategy for rural devel...
 The seven-point action plan
 Implementing the plan of actio...
 Back Cover

Group Title: People's participation in rural development : the FAO plan of action.
Title: People's participation in rural development
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00085335/00001
 Material Information
Title: People's participation in rural development the FAO plan of action
Physical Description: 16 p. : ill. ; 30 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Publisher: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Place of Publication: Rome Italy
Publication Date: 1992
Subject: Rural development   ( lcsh )
Popular participation   ( ltcsh )
Genre: international intergovernmental publication   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
General Note: Also issued in French and Spanish.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00085335
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 30338730

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Table of Contents
        Page 1
        Page 2
    A new strategy for rural development
        Page 3
        Page 4
    The seven-point action plan
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
    Implementing the plan of action
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
    Back Cover
        Page 17
Full Text


FAO. 1992

Design: Thmanii- jn!<:.ncn: Rome

The designations etmpli.,'.- d id the presentation of material in this rjb.. b ..r. J, ni.-. min.p. t.e c rpre : ,r of any opinion
whatsoever on the pan of the Food and Agr,.:'r art- Ocr.-iz7. r of the United Nations concerning the legal status of ajn
country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delmitation of its frontier or boundaries

2 Introduction

3 A new strategy for rural development

5 The seven-point Plan of Action

ONE Promotion of greater public awareness
of the role of people's participation
and people's organizations in agricultural
and rural development

TWO Creation of favourable legal and policy
conditions for people's participation

THREE Strengthening internal capacities
of the rural people's organizations at local
and national levels

FOUR Decentralization of government

FIVE Promotion of increased dialogue
and technical collaboration between
governments, development agencies and
people's organizations

SIX Introduction of appropriate operational
procedures and methods

SEVEN Monitoring and evaluation of people's

13 Implementing the Plan of Action



INTRODUCTION The term "people's participa-
tion" entered development terminology more than 15
years ago. At that time, it was seen as a logical response
to the perceived failure of conventional, "top-down"
rural development strategies to reach and benefit the
rural poor. It was also seen as a means of involving the
poor in the rural development process as active partici-
pants, not simply as passive recipients of services.
Today, in spite of decades of effort and some
progress, as much as one fifth of the world's population
still lives in chronic poverty in rural areas. Some 700
million people suffer from chronic malnutrition, funda-
mentally because they are poor, and 15 million die each
year from starvation and related diseases. Population
pressure and the low productivity of farming systems
push farmers to open up ever more marginal land for
agriculture, with the end result of deforestation, soil
depletion and desertification. Environmental degrada-
tion, unemployment and misery in the countryside are
provoking a mass exodus of rural people to already
overcrowded cities, with potentially explosive conse-
The international community is now seeking a much
more dynamic strategy for implementing rural develop-
ment action and protecting the environment. People's
participation is clearly a basic element in such a strategy.
Future development efforts must aim at releasing the
energies of rural people and guaranteeing that they
share fully in the fruits of their efforts. This can only be
achieved by working with the poor to help them take
charge of their lives, to make full use of resources and to
manage their own activities.
FAO experience over the past two decades has
shown that through participatory programmes and
activities it is possible to mobilize local knowledge and
resources for self-reliant development and, in the

process, reduce the cost to governments of providing
development assistance. People's participation is also
recognized as an essential element in strategies for
sustainable agriculture, since the rural environment can
only be protected with the active collaboration of the
local population the narrowing of ecological imbal-
ances goes hand in hand with the narrowing of social
and economic inequalities.
However, people's participation should be viewed as
more than just an instrument for implementing govern-
ment projects. It is a development approach which
recognizes the need to involve disadvantaged segments
of the rural population in the institutions and systems
that govern their lives. While participatory approaches
have been successful in many countries at stimulating
self-help activities at the local level, they can and should
also be followed in the design and implementation of
rural development policies and programmes.
In November 1991, the FAO Conference adopted a
Plan of Action for People's Participation in Rural Devel-
opment aimed at helping to put the above ideas into
practice. The Plan is published here in order to familiar-
ize a wide readership with FAO's participatory approach
and to stimulate action by the public and private sectors
in support of people's participation. FAO believes that
the strategy and recommendations for action outlined in
the Plan could energize a vast reservoir of human
resources, providing developing countries with a key to
improving rural incomes, generating rural infrastructure
and employment, protecting the environment, and
building national self-reliance.

Edouard Saouma
Food and Agriculture Organization
of the United Nations



Conventional rural development strategies
tend to see development as a series of technical trans-
fers aimed at boosting production and generating
wealth and improved social conditions. Conventional
projects usually target medium to large-scale "progres-
sive" producers, hoping that benefits will eventually
extend to more "backward" strata of rural society.
However, numerous studies have shown that this
approach often leads to concentration of resources,
marginalization of small farmers and increasing
The basic fault in the conventional approach is that
the rural poor are rarely consulted in planning or given
a role in development activities. This is because the
poor lack an organizational structure that effectively
articulates their needs and serves their interests. Isolated
and often exploited, they lack the means to win greater
access to resources and services that would help them
improve their conditions.
The lesson is clear: unless the rural poor are given
the means to participate fully in development, they will
continue to be excluded from its benefits. As a result,
they will be unable to contribute their full potential to
the expansion of rural markets, savings and investment,
all key ingredients in any rural development process.
This realization is provoking great interest in a new rural
development strategy that would incorporate, along
with other elements, people's participation.
The World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural
Development (WCARRD) in 1979 affirmed that "partici-
pation by the people in the institutions and systems
which govern their lives is a basic human right and also
essential for realignment of political power in favour of
disadvantaged groups and for social and economic
development". People's participation implies the active
involvement in development of the rural people, par-

ticularly disadvantaged groups that form the mass of the
rural population and have previously been excluded
from the development process.
Since WCARRD, the issue of people's participation
has gained considerable momentum among govern-
ments, donor agencies and international organizations.
The Declaration of Principles and Programme of Action
adopted by WCARRD stimulated and guided a number
of FAO participatory programmes, such as People's
Participation in Agricultural and Rural Development
through the Promotion of Self-Help Organizations
(PPP), Community Action for Disadvantaged Rural
Women (CADRW), Forestry for Local Community
Development Programmes (FCLDP), the Forests, Trees
and People Programme (FTPP), and the Programme for
Small-Scale and Artisanal Fishermen.
FAO's Medium and Long-Term Outlook for Food and
Agricultural Development, approved by the Ninth
Session of FAO's Committee on Agriculture (COAG) in
1987, and the Long-Term Strategy for the Food and
Agriculture Sector, endorsed by the 98th Session of the
FAO Council in 1990, recognized that rural development
- and particularly rural poverty alleviation "can be
achieved only with the voluntary and active participa-
tion of the rural people themselves". The Long-Term
Strategy emphasizes that "policies must encourage the
development of various forms of people's participation
to overcome structural and other impediments".
The AGC Task Force on Rural Development, of
which FAO is the lead agency, established in 1981 a
Panel on People's Participation. Its main achievements
include encouragement and assistance to agencies in
sensitizing staff in the issues related to people's partici-
pation and the publication of several studies on ap-
proaches to people's participation in rural development.
The importance of people's participation has also been


highlighted by UNDP in its Human Development Report
1990 which emphasizes that a participatory approach,
including the involvement of NGOs, is crucial to any
strategy for human development.

People's organizations and NGOs
A close conceptual and operational link exists between
people's participation and people's organizations.
Active participation of rural people can only be brought
about through local community and membership-based
self-help organizations whose primary aim is the pursuit
of their members' social or economic objectives. Peo-
ple's organizations are voluntary, autonomous and
democratically controlled institutions including tradi-
tional community councils, informal groups, coopera-
tives, rural workers' organizations and peasant unions,
women's associations, etc. Some local people's organi-
zations may establish higher-level federations at provin-
cial, national or international level in order to increase
their self-help capacities and bargaining power, and to
promote participatory development at local level.
However, the vast majority of the rural population are
still not organized in groups and are therefore not
benefiting from the dynamics of such groups.
Participation through people's organizations is
enhanced at local level through the work of develop-
ment NGOs that aim at improving the social and eco-
nomic conditions of rural people, especially the poor.
Some development NGOs are membership-based,
accountable to local associations which establish them,
but the majority are not. The support they provide to
grassroots groups takes various forms: training, techni-
cal support, research, assistance in formulating projects,
exchange of information and experiences.
NGO approaches to participation, geared to enhanc-
ing the self-reliance of people's organizations, are
increasingly relevant when structural adjustment meas-
ures are obliging governments to cut back on state
services. They help people's organizations to build up a
substantive platform of awareness and initiatives on the
basis of which they can participate meaningfully in
planning and implementing government-promoted
development programmes.
Over the past few years most governmental and
multilateral development cooperation agencies have
made serious efforts to strengthen their collaboration
with the non-governmental sector, due in large part to a
recognition of the relevance of NGO experience and the
importance of their grassroots outreach. FAO estab-
lished an NGO programme over 30 years ago, the

Freedom from Hunger Campaign/Action for Develop-
ment (FFHC/AD). Already in 1971 promoting people's
participation in development was one of the main
themes debated by NGOs associated with FAO at the
Fifth FFHC/AD Conference. Over the intervening years,
FFHC/AD has built up continuous working relations
with NGOs and NGO networks in the South and a
programme of support for their initiatives. At the same
time, most FAO technical divisions and country offices
have initiated collaboration with NGOs relevant to their
areas of work. The establishment of World Food Day
has given FAO an additional promotional instrument to
do so.

Origins of the Plan of Action
In 1989, following requests from Member Governments
and the Rome-based Group of International NGOs,
COAG and the FAO Council examined the issue of
people's participation and its implication for FAO's
activities in rural development. They recommended that
the concept of participatory development be integrated
into all development policies and programmes of FAO
and suggested that FAO develop a Plan of Action for
People's Participation. A draft Plan was submitted in
1990 to the 99th Session of the FAO Council, which
broadly endorsed its objectives and the areas of action
The Plan of Plan was adopted by the FAO Confer-
ence in November 1991. The Conference recognized
that active participation could be promoted through
voluntary, self-reliant and democratic organizations of
the rural population and stressed the need to intensify
cooperation between governments, NGOs and FAO.
Overall responsibility for monitoring the implementa-
tion of the Plan of Action and for its periodic reporting
was vested in FAO's Human Resources, Institutions and
Agrarian Reform Division, assisted by the Inter-Divi-
sional Working Group on Rural Development.



The overall aim of the Plan of Action is to
ensure active participation of people in the achievement
of sustainable rural development. While it is recognized
that other factors relating to social, economic/financial
and technical aspects do play an important role in
achieving this objective, the active participation of rural
people, including disadvantaged groups, acting through
voluntary, self-reliant organizations of their own choice
is equally important. Without participation, rural devel-
opment initiatives are unlikely to be sustainable in the
long run and rural inequities are unlikely to be redressed.
It should be recognized that the policy decision and
responsibility for formulating and implementing partici-
patory development policies and approaches rest with
the governments of individual member countries.
Hence, the policies and programmes for people's
participation envisaged in the follow-up to the Plan of
Action must fully recognize and respect the sovereignty
of Member Governments.
The primary responsibility for implementing the Plan
of Action lies with member governments themselves. It
is for each country to identify target groups, intended
beneficiaries and their needs, and to set priorities taking
account the socio-economic relations which influence
the type and quality of participation. Within this context,
it is recognized that the international community can
make a valuable supplementary contribution by provid-
ing technical and financial support for the implementa-
tion of the Plan. FAO can play an important role in the
follow-up to the Plan by acting as a catalyst and an
advocate, as well as by providing technical assistance to
governments in promoting participatory activities.
In order to achieve the goal of sustainable rural
development with equity through people's participation,
the Plan proposes that action be taken in the following
seven areas:

* Promotion of greater public awareness of the role of
people's participation and people's organizations in
agricultural and rural development;
* Creation of favourable legal and policy framework
for people's participation;
* Strengthening internal capacities of the rural people's
organizations at local and national levels;
* Decentralization of government decision-making;
* Promotion of increased dialogue and technical
collaboration between governments, development
agencies and people's organizations;
* Introduction of appropriate operational procedures
and methods to facilitate wider participation;
* Monitoring and evaluation of people's participation.
Action proposed in each of these areas is outlined in
the following sections. Each section begins with a
summary description of central issues and problems,
followed by specific recommendations for consideration
by Member Governments and FAO.



ONE Promotion of greater public awareness

of the role of people's participation

and people's organizations

in agricultural and rural development

Achieving sustainable rural develop-
ment and environmental protection
requires the cooperation of large,
sometimes diverse populations residing
within specific ecological areas. Such
cooperation can be enhanced through
the voluntary and cooperative action
and participation of all sectors of the
rural population, including women
and other disadvantaged groups.
Full recognition of the inherent
advantages of people's participation in
mobilizing rural communities for
sustainable agriculture and rural
development is an essential first step.
Many key decision-makers need to be
informed about and convinced of the
intrinsic benefits that flow from
enhanced people's participation in
development programmes and projects.

For Governments
* Create greater awareness among gov-
ernment officials of the benefits of adopt-
ing participatory approaches in order to
reach rural people.
* Establish clear government policies
and regulations for the training of govern-
ment officials in the principles, practice
and benefits of people's participation in
* Apply communication methods and
materials, to be used by government staff
and people's organizations, in the pro-
motion of people's participation and in
the sharing of knowledge and skills.
* In order to reach all sectors of the rural
population utilize a variety of organiza-
tional modalities, such as small informal
groups, traditional community associa-
tions, cooperatives, unions, etc.
* Mobilize rural communities to achieve
sustainable rural development objectives
using participatory approaches, acting
through existing or through new rural
people's organizations.
* Ensure that mobilization activities are
focused on satisfying community needs
and produce tangible benefits for those

* Conduct case studies and research on
the effectiveness of participatory} ap-
proaches and people's organizations in
mobilizing rural communities for sustain-
able agricultural and rural development
and environmental protection.
* Assist governments in testing the ef-
fectiveness of different organizational
methodologies for mobilizing rural com-
munities, satisfying arii niu.ii-,T .-id ririf,-.:
needs and producing tangible benefits
for those involved.
* Collect and disseminate to Member
Governments. NGOs, other people's or-
ganizations and the general public infor-
mation materials on examples of people's
participation activities, approaches, per-
formance and benefits.
* Develop training materials on partici-
patory rural development project design,
monitoring and evaluation in order to
enhance among concerned FAO techni-
cal staff, the awareness of participation
issues and to assist in the integration of
people's participation elements into FAO
programmes and projects.
* Assist governments in developing new
training approaches aimed at sensitizing
key government and development agency
decision- makers to the merits and value
of using more participatory approaches
in rural development.
* Through the World Food Day Net-
work, mobilize governments and NGOs
for the creation of a positive attitude to-
wards people's participation.



TWO Creation of favourable legal

and policy conditions for people's participation

Legal and administrative frameworks
should encourage the free association
of rural people, thus enabling them to
participate in development. Legislation
which restricts the rights of individuals
to freely organize themselves into
participatory self-help organizations to
pursue their own economic interests
and gain access to land, inputs,
markets and services can constitute a
serious obstacle to participation.
Likewise, national economic policies
in many countries, especially those
fc, iJ,', the pricing and distribution of
agricultural inputs and the pricing and
marketing of farm production, credit
services, taxation and revenue-sharing,
should not discourage or penalize rural
savings and investment. Laws which
recognize the rights of rural people to
establish new autonomous economic
organizations serving their needs or
which give authority to local govern-
ments to spend locally generated tax
revenues can foster local initiatives in
support of people's participation.
The vital role women play in socio-
economic life and in agricultural and
non-agricultural activities must be
recognized in rural development
planning and programme implementa-
tion. Development based on growth
with equity and people's participation
will therefore require full integration of
women, including promoting their
equal access to natural resources and
services, equal rights to inheritance
and equal opportunity to develop and
employ their skills.

For Governments
* Establish clear government policies
and regulations that favour people's par-
ticipation and encourage the establish-
ment of people's organizations. Towards
this end, establish an appropriate frame-
work which provides a basis for free asso-
ciation of rural people in organizations of
their choice.
* Introduce and enforce policies and
legal and structural reforms (such as land
reform, reform of tenancy laws, water use
rights, etc.) which promote more equita-
ble access to resources and services for
the rural population, especially the rural
* Enact and amend laws to ensure equal
rights and full membership for women
and other disadvantaged groups in peo-
ple's organizations.
* Reform or, where necessary, create,
local government institutions to promote
and facilitate democratic participation of
rural people through organizations of their

* Encourage and assist governments in
establishing a legal framework to provide
for free association of rural people in
organizations of their choice.
* Promote the introduction and imple-
mentation of policies and of legal and
structural reforms (such as land reform,
reform of tenancy laws, water use rights,
etc.) that promote more equitable access
to resources for the rural population, es-
pecially the rural poor.
* Assist governments in the design, im-
plementation and evaluation of policies
to promote more equitable access to re-
sources, inputs and services by rural
people, especially women and other
disadvantaged groups.
* Assist governments in the design and
implementation of improved pricing,
credit and taxation/ ti, I. policies and in-
centives which encourage greater partici-
pation by rural people in savings and
investment and in the functioning of do-
mestic markets.




THREE Strengthening internal capacities

of the rural people's organizations

at local and national levels

Experience in both the developed and
developing countries has shown that
the existence of active people's organi-
zations is essential for the success of
participatory approaches to rural
development. Government efforts
therefore must focus on promoting and
strengthening the growth of self-reliant
rural organizations so that they can
serve as channels for the delivery of
government development services to the
rural population and participate
effectively in the design, implementa-
tion and monitoring/evaluation of
development activities.
In order to promote voluntary rural
people's organizations pursuing their
members' interests, rural development
policies may need to be re-oriented. The
lack of trained managers and local
leaders of people's organizations
directly affects their ability to achieve
self-sufficiency goals and frequently
leads to loss of funds, confidence and

For Governments
* Introduce policies to facilitate the
transformation of government-sponsored
and government-financed people's or-
ganizations, especially cooperatives, into
self-reliant, member-controlled and fi-
nancially autonomous organizations.
* Promote the use of new "bottom-up"
approaches to building rural organiza-
tions, e.g., through informal group for-
mation as a complementary approach to
existing government efforts.
* Strengthen training programmes for
leaders, managers and members of peo-
ple's organizations in order to reinforce
management and technical capacities.
* Establish self-control mechanisms,
audit services and modes of financing
which strengthen self-reliance capacity
of people's organizations.
* Encourage the mobilization of local
member resources (member savings,
share capital, labour contributions, etc.)
to finance people's organization activities
and growth.
* Limit the external financing of peo-
ple's organizations to the minimum
amount necessary and to a mutually
agreed time frame so that it does not
undermine their independence and self-

* Advise governments on the design
and implementation of long term strate-
gies for the gradual transformation of
government-sponsored and financed
people's organizations (especially coop-
eratives) into self-reliant, member-con-
trolled and member-financed organi-
* Encourage governments to adopt ap-
proaches to financing local people's or-
ganizations which place primary
importance on assisting them in achiev-
ing financial self-reliance and make mini-
mum use of grants and subsidies.
* Assist governments in developing ef-
fective approaches for building the inter-
nal capital base of local people's organ-
izations through increase in the savings
and share contributions of members and
accumulation of operating surpluses.
* Assist governments in strengthening
the self-management, self-help capaci-
ties of rural people's organization leader-
ship as well as membership, through
training-of-trainers programmes, etc.
* Assist governments in developing ap-
propriate accounting, business manage-
ment and financial self-sufficiency
methodologies for strengthening the in-
ternal self-help capacities of rural peo-
ple's organizations.



FOUR Decentralization of government


Decentralized systems of public admin-
istration and government decision-
making encourage local initiatives and
participation at the local level. Rural
people are more likely to support
development initiatives when these take
into consideration the views and the
expressed needs of the intended benefi-
ciaries. The promotion ofpeople's
participation depends to a great extent
on the delegation to local levels of the
responsibility for decision-making,
including for raising revenues and
incurring expenditures.
The effective delegation of decision-
making to local levels also requires the
existence or establishment of appropri-
ate mechanisms for facilitating in-
creased dialogue and collaboration
between governments, development
agencies and local people's organiza-
tions. Where these mechanisms are in
place, decentralization efforts are more

For Governments
* Introduce changes in administrative
and budgetary procedures which facili-
tate the delegation of authority and re-
sponsibility to local levels for decision-
making, revenue raising and spending.
* Establish local consultative, advisory
and planning bodies composed of peo-
ple's organizations, NGOs and govern-
ment representatives to assist government
in the decentralization of decision-mak-
* Develop new accounting, local over-
sight and control mechanisms which fa-
cilitate decentralized decision-making.

* Assist Member Governments in de-
centralizing decision-making within the
framework of national policy to promote
greater participation of rural people in
the formulation, implementation and
evaluation of rural development pro-
grammes and projects that affect them.
* Analyse the political, economic and
fiscal impact of different forms of decen-
tralization so as to assist governments in
developing strategies aimed at delegat-
ing increased decision-making, revenue-
raising and spending authority to local
* Advise governments on measures for
increasing the participation of rural peo-
ple, especially women and other disad-
vantaged groups, in the process of rural
development planning.


. ....... .... .....



FIVE Promotion of increased dialogue

and technical collaboration between governments,

development agencies and people's organizations

In many developing countries govern-
ments, development agencies and
NGOs are often involved in different
ways in promoting and supporting
village community groups and people's
organizations representing the rural
Promoting exchange of information
and dialogue between all parties can
help collaboration in participatory
development at local level. Many
governments in developing countries
are seeking solutions to this problem by
encouraging greater dialogue with
NGOs in some developing countries
have recently established collaborative
mechanisms such as umbrella organi-
zations or coalitions which bring
together international and national
professional voluntary development
agencies, donor NGOs and people's
organizations. These umbrella organi-
zations or NGO networks, have become
important supporting institutions for
information exchange and provision of
training for leaders of people's organi-
zations at the country level and for
promoting dialogue and collaboration
with government and donor agencies
on policy issues in rural development.

For Governments
* Establish multi-institutional mecha-
nisms, coordinating or advisory bodies,
etc. at national and local levels within and
between line ministries in agriculture,
agrarian reform and rural development,
which facilitate a dialogue and collabora-
tion with NGOs, people's organizations
on policies, programmes and projects to
promote participatory development.
* Facilitate legally, administratively, and
technically, the establishment of umbrella
organizations of NGOs representing and
servicing rural people's organizations.
* Enable the participation of repre-
sentatives from people's organizations in
national and local level training activities
related to information exchange, policy
dialogue and design and implementation
of participatory rural development

+ Assist governments in the establish-
ment of multi-institutional mechanisms at
national and at decentralized levels to
facilitate information exchange, dialogue
and collaboration between government.
NGOs and people's organizations in pro-
moting participatory rural development
programmes and projects.
* Facilitate NGOs and people's organi-
zations in developing countries to estab-
lish and/or strengthen umbrella
organizations or coalitions as a platform
for information exchange and for p"' .i..
dialogue on participatory rural develop-
ment with the government and develop-
ment agencies concerned.
* Encourage the establishment of insti-
tutional arrangements which promote
closer dialogue between international
donor NGOs and national NGOs involved
in supporting development and people's
participation at local level.
* Establish appropriate modalities to fa-
cilitate closer dialogue and technical col-
laboration with NGOs on people's
participation and rural development.
* Encourage participation by repre-
sentatives of local organizations together
with government officials, in workshops.
expert meetings, consultations and con-
ferences on rural development policies.
procedures, programmes and projects.



SIX Introduction of appropriate

operational procedures and methods

The effective promotion ofpeople's
participation requires the development
of appropriate operational methods and
decentralized mechanisms which
facilitate wider participation of the
rural population in the formulation,
design, implementation and evaluation
of rural development policies, pro-
grammes and project activities. Moreo-
ver, research on people's participation
and on the education and training of
promoters of participation or of the
beneficiaries themselves needs to take
into account the local needs, skill levels
and experiences of the rural people

For Governments
* Establish appropriate administrative
procedures and financial arrangements at
local levels to enhance the establishment
and activities of informal and formal
groupings of the rural people and their
participation in development activities.
* Introduce more participatory meth-
odologies which permit rural people to
play a more active role in identifying their
research and technical assistance needs,
in designing research and training ap-
proaches and in monitoring progress and
evaluating results.

* Develop operational procedures and
measures that facilitate participation of
people's organizations in rural develop-
ment activities, including arrangements
for their implementation of certain project
* Assist governments in establishing
mechanisms to facilitate collaboration
with NGOs and farmers in the develop-
ment of participatory methodologies for
research, education, training and exten-
sion in agricultural and rural develop-
* Develop project design guidelines that
encourage, to the maximum extent possi-
ble, the incorporation of people's par-
ticipation and people's organization-
building objectives in relevant FAO project
* Encourage closer technical coopera-
tion and exchange of information be-
tween all FAO technical units involved in
the implementation of participatory rural
development programmes and projects.






SEVEN Monitoring and evaluation

of people's participation

The lack of reliable information on
people's participation issues constitutes
a major constraint to rural develop-
ment policy-makers and planners at
national and international levels and
frequently leads to an incorrect assess-
ment of the development needs of rural
people and their organizations as well
as a sub-optimal use of resources
destined for that sector. These inad-
equacies also make it difficult for
governments, development agencies
and people's organizations themselves
to properly measure progress achieved
in improving levels of rural people's
participation and people's organization

For Governments
* Establish appropriate mechanisms for
collecting, processing and disseminating
data on people's participation and peo-
ple's organizations on a systematic and
regular basis so as to assist in policy for-
mulation and decision-making.
* Develop participatory monitoring and
evaluation systems to assess progress in
people's participatory approaches to ru-
ral and agricultural development.
* Assess periodically the overall effects
of policies to enhance people's participa-
tion to determine whether further im-
provements are needed to ensure

* Assist governments in collecting,
processing and disseminating informa-
tion on people's participation, using indi-
cators adapted to the specific nature of
different types of people's organizations.
* Assist governments in providing
training to the staff of governments and
people's organizations in the collection
of data and in the development of partici-
patory monitoring and evaluation systems.
* Assist governments in preparation of
case studies to examine trends in peo-
ple's participation in rural and agricul-
tural development.
* Continue with the assistance of Mem-
ber Governments to monitor progress in
rural development and people's partici-
pation as part of its regular WCARRD
reporting, using socio-economic indica-
tors developed for this purpose.




It must be recognized that the objective of
active participation by the people in the development
process can be achieved only through consistent and
concentrated efforts over a long period. The implemen-
tation of the Plan of Action will therefore call for both
long-term policies and adequate resources. In laying a
secure foundation for people's participation, the process
is extremely important as also the creation of voluntary
and democratic people's organizations.
By its very nature, the process of promoting people's
participation is complex. It often involves fundamental
socio-economic changes which require long-term policy
and resource commitment to the objective of promoting
people's participation for improving the economic and
social conditions of the rural people, and particularly of
the poor. The resources needed for moving on the path
of sustained people's participation must not be underes-
timated; nor should the long-term benefits flowing from
a people-centred, equitable and sustained growth
process. It is obvious that the primary responsibility for
implementing the policies, programmes and activities
advocated in the Plan of Action rests with individual
member countries.
An essential first step in the implementation of the
Plan is for each country to determine clearly defined
and time-bound targets and set priorities, taking into
account its own specific conditions and capacities, in
respect of the programmes suggested in each of the
seven areas of the Plan of Action. The determination of
these targets will also involve the estimation of the
required resources.
FAO can and will need to play an important role
in the implementation of the Plan of Action and to
provide technical and financial support to interested
countries in this task at their request. The Plan envisages
FAO acting as a catalyst and an advocate to encourage

and assist governments and people's organizations in
promoting participatory activities. In this context, FAO
will provide assistance through its own Regular Pro-
gramme and through its Field Programme using the
traditional instruments of development intervention, i.e.
information gathering, analysis and dissemination,
training, institution building, promotion of dialogue,
exchange of experience, as well as policy advice.
The actions envisaged for FAO in the seven areas of
the Plan of Action would provide a broad framework for
the technical programmes of FAO in support of partici-
patory activities. While it is not feasible to provide
information on all current FAO programmes which
support people's participation, a selection of the most
relevant programmes gives an indication of the wide
scope of ongoing and planned FAO activities which
promote this approach.
The sub-programme Rural Institutions and Em-
ployment deals primarily and directly with policies,
research and training related to rural institution-building
and the strengthening of associations of small farmers
through cooperatives or informal groups. The activities
under this sub-programme provide technical support to
the Small Farmer Development Programme (SFDP)
and People's Participation Programme (PPP), and
aim at the integration of participatory principles into
large-scale projects and programmes. Under this sub-
programme, FAO recently published a manual, Partici-
pation in practice, based on over ten years of SFDP/PPP
field experience, which provides guidelines for promot-
ing and implementing participatory field projects. Future
actions planned for the 1992-93 biennium for promoting
greater public awareness for people's participation
(action area 1), include the preparation of country case
studies on the effectiveness of participatory experiences
within the agricultural, rural development, forestry and


fisheries sectors. It is also proposed to undertake more
in-depth, long-term impact assessments of people's
participation projects which highlight the benefits of
participation, such as those currently underway in
Lesotho and Thailand.
Future planned actions under the sub-programme,
which aim at creating favourable legal and policy
conditions for people's participation (action area 2),
involve the provision of assistance to member countries
in the redrafting of their legislation governing coopera-
tive and other people's organizations. Such assistance
has already been provided to Ethiopia and Grenada and
Iran has expressed interest in this matter.
As regards the strengthening of internal capacities of
the rural people's organizations at local and national
levels (action area 3), FAO has a programme to advise
Member Governments on the design and implementa-
tion of long-term strategies for the gradual transforma-
tion of government initiated cooperatives into
self-reliant, member-controlled and member-financed
organizations. Such assistance is currently being pro-
vided to Ethiopia, Burkina Faso and Mongolia. Further,
a detailed analysis of the 25 country studies on the state
of the art of cooperative movements throughout the
world is now underway, which will strengthen the basis
for future policy advice to Member Governments on the
re-organization of cooperatives. With a view to strength-
ening the self-help and self-help management capacities
of rural people's organizations, a Guide to bookkeeping
and accounting in agricultural cooperatives has been
Another important area under the sub-programme
Rural Institutions and Employment is the promotion of
increased dialogue and technical collaboration between
governments, development agencies and people's
organizations (action area 5). Towards this end, FAO
has helped in the organization of national tripartite
consultations in which representatives of governments,
NGOs and donors participate. FAO has conducted such
a tripartite consultation in the Philippines and one is
planned in Jamaica. FAO is prepared to respond to
requests from Member Governments for organizing
such consultations. FAO also assists NGOs and people's
organizations in developing countries to establish and/
or strengthen regional and national umbrella organiza-
tions or coalitions (networks) as a platform for informa-
tion exchange and policy dialogue. An example is
FAO's assistance in establishing the Asian NGO Coali-
tion (ANGOC).
With regard to promoting decentralization of govern-

ment decision-making (action area 4) FAO, under the
programme element Decentralized Planning and
Analysis will assist member countries in conducting
national in-service training programmes for government
officers working at local level and members of peasant
associations. In particular, assistance will be provided to
local planners to enhance their planning capability in
the use of analytical tools and methodologies through
direct assistance and training with the purpose of
strengthening local planning institutions, developing
financial resource allocation procedures, enhancing
private business and people's participation in develop-
ment. Country studies are proposed in the next bien-
nium in Ethiopia, Ghana, Uganda, Zambia, Rwanda,
Senegal and Mexico. In addition, case study and meth-
odological materials will be prepared on the basis of the
work initiated in the preparation of the publication
Rural area development planning: principles, ap-
proaches and tools of economic analysis.
Activities under the sub-programme Non-govern-
mental Organizations also relate to action area 5. This
sub-programme aims at developing closer relations with
a range of non-governmental organizations and promo-
tion of collaboration with FFHC/AD initiatives in
strengthening regional NGO networks in the Latin
American and African regions is noteworthy. During the
1992/93 biennium FFHC/AD will build up a comprehen-
sive database on NGOs of relevance to FAO's mandate,
undertake a systematic assessment of NGO experience
in sustainable rural development, and building on its
existing activities, promote catalytic FAO/NGO field
projects which can serve as a laboratory for evolving
alternative, participatory solutions to development
With regard to the introduction of appropriate
operational procedures and methods (action area 6)
FAO has developed procedures to facilitate increased
delegation of authority and responsibility to national
implementing agencies (including NGOs) in the execu-
tion of FAO participatory projects. Future actions for
developing appropriate operational procedures and
methods will include the development of field-designed
and tested participatory training materials in such
subjects as group enterprise management, mobilization
of member capital for investment and group formation
and development for use at local levels.
FAO will continue to monitor and evaluate people's
participation (action area 7), as part of its regular
WCARRD reporting. In order to facilitate such monitor-
ing, it is proposed to collect more detailed information


on member participation in rural cooperatives and other
organizations. FAO will also continue to participate
actively in the Panels on People's Participation and on
Monitoring and Evaluation of the ACC Task Force on
Rural Development, which recently held a joint meeting
to discuss participatory monitoring and evaluation. It
was agreed that FAO would contribute its experience to
prepare a revised edition of the Panel's widely used
publication Guiding principles for the design and use of
monitoring and evaluation in rural development
projects and programmes.

Participatory elements are included in many other
activities, such as in the development of sustainable
farming systems, irrigation management, soil conserva-
tion, integrated dairy development, forestry extension
and public education as well as community forest
development and fishermen's organizations.
The principles of people's participation have been
applied in many FAO field activities. FAO was imple-
menting, in early 1991, some 145 participatory rural
development projects with a value of around US$345
million, while forty more such projects were in the
pipeline. A good example of a large-scale FAO field
project with a strong participatory orientation is the
regional Integrated Pest Management (IPM) project.
This project applies group-based and participatory
approaches and has trained over 400 000 farmers to
diagnose symptoms, analyse their agro- ecosystems and
to decide what to do without waiting passively for
extension advice. The farmers are now able to treat their
crops in a way which is environmentally and economi-
cally sound, generating savings from lower pesticide use
levels of over US$10 million per year.
People's participation is also a key element of the
Tropical Forestry Action Plan (TFAP). TFAP guide-
lines stress that governments and aid agencies must
strengthen participatory forestry mechanisms and
facilitate the involvement of local people and NGOs in
the TFAP process. The proposed activities, which will
be coordinated with other FAO initiatives such as the
Forest, Trees and People Programme, include:
country-level inventories of organizations actively
involved in forestry and rural development; assessment
of the potential of each organization to facilitate effec-
tive public participation in TFAP; identification of
appropriate public participation mechanisms for the
country; translation into local languages of TFAP docu-
ments; strengthening of selected local organizations
through, for example, the training of staff in participa-

tory forestry; and use of qualified representatives from
local NGOs as TFAP consultants.
The policy of the FAO Fisheries Department is
guided by the Strategy for Fisheries Management and
Development adopted by the 1984 FAO World Fisheries
Conference. The Strategy and the related Programmes of
Action place particular emphasis on the active participa-
tion of fishing communities in the planning and imple-
mentation of development and management schemes.
Various activities have been implemented under the
regular and field programmes to strengthen the collabo-
ration with NGOs and to promote the closer involve-
ment of fisherfolk organizations in development and
management efforts; examples include credit and
women extension services implemented by the Bay of
Bengal Programme and schemes for improved fish
marketing and social services undertaken by the
Project for the Integrated Development of
Artisanal Fisheries in West Africa. In view of the fact
that many inshore fisheries resources are heavily ex-
ploited, the close participation of fisherfolk in fisheries
management is essential. In this connection, a trust fund
project has been approved in 1991 to study and pro-
mote the concept of community-based fishery manage-
ment systems in Asia. People's participation in fisheries
and coastal resources management will also be a key
component of the next phase of the Bay of Bengal
Programme and of a UNDP interregional programme on
integrated coastal fisheries management that is to
commence in 1992.
Communication is also an essential element in
participatory development programmes. FAO has over
twenty years of experience in promoting the use of
communication methods and media to establish a
dialogue among all the actors concerned in the develop-
ment process, and particularly with the rural people; to
involve communities in the planning, implementation
and monitoring of development programmes; to pro-
vide information as a basis for change and innovation;
and to help with the sharing of knowledge and skills.
FAO's Development Support Communication field
programmes will continue to apply communication
techniques and media to facilitate knowledge sharing
and, through dialogue, open the door to the participa-
tion of rural people in situation analysis, development
planning, management and decision-making. An exam-
ple of a project that successfully uses communication for
improved participation is the rural communication
system established in Mexico to support the integrated
development of the Tropical Wetlands (Proderith).


Communication media and approaches are applied to
reach a consensus with local communities concerning
the development actions to be taken and to plan and
implement local development programmes. But, most
important, the rural communication system is now being
decentralized and transferred to the farmers' associa-
tions themselves. Communication materials are being
produced by the farmers, with the farmers, and for the
farmers. This unique experience can be a model for
other developing countries.
Another field programme which will include com-
munication to increase people's participation is the
Forest, Trees and People programme. A communication
component will apply traditional and low-cost commu-
nication media to involve people in the planning,
implementation and evaluation of community forestry
programmes. The results of this interregional pro-
gramme will be made available to governments and
NGOs through audio-visual media, publications and
case studies.
The FAO Investment Centre has been helping to
introduce people's participatory components in projects
prepared for financing agencies, especially the World
Bank, IFAD, the African Development Bank and the
Asian Development Bank. In recent work, the Invest-
ment Centre has given increasing attention to promoting
people's participation in the design of projects so as to
ensure that the felt needs of the intended beneficiaries
are properly addressed in project interventions. Using
Rapid Rural Appraisal methodologies, project design
teams have focused on means of developing a conver-
gence between beneficiary and Government views on
project design and on identifying institutional mecha-
nisms which ensure an equitable distribution of benefits
within the affected communities.
People's participation is also an important compo-
nent of the International Cooperative Programme
Framework for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural
Development (ICPF/SARD) which was approved by
the 26th Session of the FAO Conference in 1991. This
framework is based on the Den Bosch Declaration and
Agenda for Action for SARD and foresees under Pro-
gramme No. 2, People's Participation and Develop-
ment of Human Resources, four priority goals, all of
which are compatible with the aims of the Plan of Action:
the development of decentralization policies for rural
the concurrent adjustment of institutional structures;
the development of rural organizations and of the
interactive processes with government institutions;

* the development of human resources for the above
While the principles of participatory approaches to
rural development will involve many technical units of
FAO, the overall responsibility for monitoring the
implementation of the Plan of Action and for periodic
reporting would be vested with the Human Resources,
Institutions and Agrarian Reform Division. In this task
the Division will be assisted by a Sub-Group on People's
Participation of the Inter-Divisional Working Group on
Rural Development. In implementing the Plan, FAO will
collaborate closely with other UN agencies which are
members of the ACC Task Force on Rural Development,
which is chaired by FAO.
FAO has been providing technical assistance, sup-
ported by extra-budgetary resources, to government
programmes in areas covered by the Plan of Action.
FAO's technical assistance would aim at promoting
people's organizations both formal and informal as
essential instruments for promoting participatory activi-
ties, and also at introducing well-defined components
for promoting people's participation in larger develop-
ment projects in agriculture, fisheries and forestry.

The role of the international community
It should be stressed that although the actions envisaged
in the Plan of Action are addressed to the member
countries which wish to promote people's participation,
their implementation crucially depends also on the
availability of external funds for development. The very
restricted and diminishing resource position of many
developing countries, as well as their high external
indebtedness, are likely to hinder progress in promoting
a people's participatory development process. In this
context, the international community can make a
critically important contribution by providing external
resources in support of the implementation of the Plan.
Necessary adjustments in the area of international trade,
external debt and the flow of financial resources can
also facilitate the generation of the will and commitment
for achieving the objectives of the Plan.

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