Title: Participatory development and the water sector: a new 'tyranny' of development cooperation or an important opportunity for a politicised and radical development practice?
Authors: DONIN GiorgiaLEONE Andrea
Publisher: Publications Office of the European Union
Publication Year: 2011
JRC N°: JRC64168
ISBN: 978-92-79-19845-8
ISSN: 1831-9424
Other Identifiers: EUR 24782 EN
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC64168
DOI: 10.2788/85194
Type: EUR - Scientific and Technical Research Reports
Abstract: In this paper we analyse the role of participatory development as a tool improving governance of services provision in the water sector. In the past few decades the scientific literature and the international cooperation agencies understandably promoted participatory development as a new tool of mainstream development practice. As a result participatory development has been and it is in vogue for development water sector related programmes worldwide. This approach is the result of the failures of the first 50 years of development cooperation made of coercive ‘top-down’ projects. As a “new” solution towards the sustainability of northern investments in development cooperation the idea of a ‘bottom-up’ approach appeared as a magic potion to make development programmes successful. After its first wave of ubiquitous application in the nineties, participatory development was quickly criticised questioning the political strategy laying behind the notion of participation. In development studies, participation became the “new tyranny” or the “Trojan horse” used to hide the real political agenda of international development agencies or government programmes. While participatory development theory has the potential to create radical development practice, the actual implementation of this complex socio-economic and political process seems very farfetched from its theoretical positive influence above all with regards to the complex management issues of the water sector. In this paper some case studies related to water sector development and services provision are presented analysing their relationship with citizen participation to understand how and when the participatory approach can be successful revealing its true transformative and innovative nature as a tool to improve water sector governance.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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