Local participation, local ownership
Participation of local communities in the development, implementation and even evaluation of aid interventions is increasingly recognised as an essential ingredient for fostering local ownership. A new participation framework, piloted in Malawi’s health sector, points the way forward.

The framework is a matrix that helps development professionals analyse participation across projects, programmes or policy cycle at its different stages. The rows of the matrix define the stages of the project, notably its design, implementation, and monitoring. The columns identify the specific forms of participation, who participates in each form (and whether they do so individually or collectively), their motives, what factors determine the effectiveness of participation, and the results of this participation.
 
An advantage of this framework is that while it can be applied to examine participation in a donor-financed programme, it can also be used more generally, for instance in relation to participation in the planning, delivery, and monitoring and evaluation of a service. It provides a convenient summary and checklist for representing varying forms of participation, and for supporting the assessment of causal links.
 
A pilot application of the framework, funded by NORAD, was applied to the health sector in Malawi. This pilot showed that the framework could provide informative findings for policy makers on the nature of participation. One of the key findings is the importance of rooting any participation in existing social organisations and networks.