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Eschborn - There was a great crush when the "I)are to Share Fair" opened its doors in House 3 of the Deutsche Gesellschaft fÃ¼r Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ). During the two-day fair several hundred visitors came to discuss approaches to participate learning in development cooperation. During the so-called " Dare to Share Fair", which had over 30 stalls, representatives from four continents demonstrated how a range of approaches to participate learning are used in development cooperation.
The visitors could produce their own clay bricks on an original Indian Bahram press or use cartoons to learn something about "Participative Impact Monitoring"(PIM). They could visit video and slide shows, peruse notice boards and gather all sorts of information. There was a so-called "open space" which visitors could use to present their own topics to anyone interested for 90 minutes. Many were attracted to the topic "macro economics and gender" and to the rehearsals of a theater troop from the Philippines. Those who preferred to follow the Fair's programme found opportunities for debates, workshops and to play the game "Africulture".
The General Manager of GTZ HansjÃ¶rg Elshorst emphasized in his opening speech the necessity to organise development cooperation from the "bottom up". The organisers were pleased with the wide variety of visitors who had accepted invitations. In particular the first day saw visitors from non-governmental organizations (NGOs)from with in and out si de Germany, from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation(BMZ) and from various universities.
Especially crowded was the stall of the university of Hohenheim which presented several participative methods. The latest product of the Hohenheim university, "Road to Progress", combines different approaches. It asks participants to find a symbol to represent the problem which they arc to solve, for example an empty glass for the problem "lack of water".
Tony Gibson knows how to use; concrete displays to stimulate participation and co-operation. The white hared British man, a sort of doyen of participative learning, full of humour and with a lot of experience, has worked for 17 years with residents of socially deprived areas. With cardboard models of their area the inhabitants themselves plan how to change their environment. This is a planning tool which is now being used in Tanzania and India, as well as in GTZ programmes for the renovation of squatted areas in Senegal.
However, new methods arc not a guarantee for changed practices. The steps which are necessary, and possible, for restructuring within organisations were demonstrated by Mallika Samaranvake from Sri Lanka with the example of the National Development Foundation in her country.
The situation of women is not automatically addressed by participative approaches. "80% of the stalls did not even touch on the issue of gender", argued women from the GTZ's Gender and Equal Opportunities division. The participants of the well-attended forum on women and gender stressed that the sustainability of their projects depends crucially 011 the approach taken to gender differentiation.
" Not just only gender components, but real participation" was one of the proposals at the end of the session. "Many small fairs everywhere" was the wish of many when time became short.