|People's Participation In Natural Resources Management - Workshop Report 8 (IRMA, 1992)|
The term people's participation has become a rhetoric these days. It is used to connote different things by different people and in different contexts. According to Banki (1981, p.533), people's participation is a dynamic group process in which all members of a group contribute to the attainment of group objectives, share the benefits from group activities, exchange information and experience of common interest, and follow the rules, regulations, and other decisions made by the group. Depending upon the context, the mode of participation, and the form of organisation seeking people's participation, the following connotations of people's participation were identified by the Workshop parti-cipants based on their experiences:
a. Attending meetings called to discuss matters relating to the design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of NRM projects;
b. Contributing money, labour, or both to activities/projects of common interest to the group/community;
c. Seeking new knowledge and information and sharing it with other members of the group/community as well as with the project authority concerned;
d. Following the rules and regulations set by the group/community/organisation in consultation with the local people;
e. Adoption of technologies and practices recommended by the project authority;
f. Abstaining from doing any harm or damage to the common property or asset created as a result of participatory effort;
g. Serving on the joint management committees constituted by the project authority for NRM; and
h. Influencing directly or indirectly the design, direction and implementation of NRM projects.
The participants also discussed various modes and forms of people's participation. They distinguished amongst the following forms of people's participation (Mishra, et al.,1984, pp.17-18):
i. Formal vs informal participation: Formal participation is provided for by a legislation or an administrative fiat, or by-laws of the organisation interested in seeking people's participation. Informal participation may be sought by the programme personnel on their own initiative for it is not required officially.
ii. Individual vs representative participation: In individual participation, people are invited in their individual capacities as social leaders, experts, etc., to serve on the boards or management committees of the programme agencies concerned. In this case, the participation is direct. In representative participation, people participate in decision-making through their representatives who may be selected or elected by the people themselves or nominated by the programme authority. In this case, the participation is indirect.
iii. Consultation: This means the process by which the programme agency obtains the opinion of the target group of the people with a view to design, implement, and monitor its programmes.
iv. Co-operation: This means the process by which the local people participate in decision-making through the co-option of their representatives on the joint management committees that are established on an ad hoc basis for the purpose.