Policy expertise

Development Aid as viewed by the local population

Policy Area
Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad)
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Seeking to achieve an effective and participatory approach to development has been the focus of much donor attention, as well as an expressed objective for the governments of many developing countries. A review of both the empirical and theoretical literature suggests, therefore, that a more disaggregated and less normative approach to the analysis of participation is required to create an understanding of the conditions under which participatory approaches may further development objectives, and to aid the design of specific interventions. This perspective has driven the development of the framework for this study. The approach proposed for analysing participation is a matrix with rows defined across the project, programme, or policy cycle – design, implementation, and monitoring. The columns of the matrix 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. This framework was applied to the Malawi health sector to provide substantive findings on local ownership and participation in this sector. The pilot study examined community participation in the health sector in Malawi, to identify and characterise the forms that participation takes, the factors influencing this, the results of this participation in terms of its impact on service delivery and community ownership, and finally the implications of these findings for the design and implementation of government programmes and of donor support to these programmes. This study was commissioned by NORAD’s Evaluation Department, with the overall objective of developing and pilot testing a methodological framework that can be used by international development agencies (and others) to improve understanding of the importance of local ownership and participation for aid effectiveness. This framework was piloted in the Malawian health sector to provide substantive findings on local perceptions, participation and accountability with this sector.

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