This was contained in a press release entitled “When do Participatory Development Projects Work,” issued by the Bank and made available to the Ghana News Agency on Thursday.
The release quoted a new World Bank report, which said “Involving local communities in decisions that affect their lives is central to making development more effective, and has the potential to transform the role that poor people play in development by giving them voice”.
The release said it was also vital to pay a great deal of attention to context and to commit strongly to transparent monitoring systems, as in Indonesia’s Kecamatan Development Program.
It added that a new Policy Research Report analyzing participatory development efforts showed that such projects often failed to be sensitive to complex contexts, including social, political, historical and geographical realities, and fell short in terms of monitoring and evaluation systems, which hampered learning.
The report shares evidence-based lessons on the challenges donor agencies faced in inducing participation, including the need for a responsive state and a strong awareness of local context, and recommends several steps to ensure that financiers support projects effectively, such as flexible, long-term engagement and participatory monitoring.
According to the release, given that the World Bank itself invested $85 billion over the past 10 years on local participatory projects, with other donors adding billions more, the Bank researchers concluded that while community participation had had some success in improving outcomes in health and education, it had been less effective in reducing poverty, or in building the capacity for collective action.
The Bank reiterated that there were some common features among community-based programs that had done well in reaching the poor and improving services.
It cited Brazil’s Programa Saude da Famılia, which provides free health services managed by municipal governments under the supervision of the Brazilian Ministry of Health, as another strong engagement by the state.
It explained that the assessments of the Brazilian program revealed substantial health effects, especially for newborn babies and young children and in addition, the program was cost-effective.
The release noted that the World Bank and other donor agencies needed to take several steps to ensure that they supported projects with those characteristics.
“The Policy Research Report (PRR) is the latest edition in a series managed by the World Bank’s research department”, it said, adding that PRRs aimed at contributing to the debate on appropriate public policies for developing economies.
The Bank said this year’s edition laid out a conceptual framework and empirical underpinning on participatory development.