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Demystifying Facilitation in Participatory Development, IIED

Author(s): Annemarie Groot and Marleen Maarleveld

Publication Date:  2000

This article, part of IIED’s Gatekeeper Series, begins by highlighting how blueprint approaches to development often have insufficient capacity building elements, which contribute to sustainable natural resource management. The authors promote the emergent trend of multi-actor, multi-scale approaches toward sustainable NRM.

While demonstrating that participatory methods have evolved to develop competence in joint decision-making, the article discusses the missed opportunity of social learning in the processes. The article demonstrates how this can be improved through the skills and decisions of the facilitator.

Based on their own facilitation experience, the authors aim to make facilitation and the role of the facilitator more transparent by highlighting and analysing three different aspects of participatory interventions:

1. The reasons for the participatory intervention
2. The range of stakeholders involved
3. The style of facilitation

The article concludes by recognizing that currently, participatory approaches seem to be increasingly used by strategically acting actors, including facilitators themselves, to achieve pre-determined objectives more efficiently and effectively. In these cases the ideological goals of participatory methodologies are bypassed as the beneficiaries do not fully own and drive the process. The authors promote improved facilitation skills and the “true” application of participatory theory as the solution to this dilemma.