Participation is a right held by all people to engage in society and in the decisions that impact their lives. Participation is thus a political endeavour that challenges oppression and discrimination, in particular of the poorest and most marginalised people. Participatory processes enable people to see more clearly, and learn from the complexity that they are living and working amid. Through participation people can identify opportunities and strategies for action, and build solidarity to effect change.
Those whose interests are served by exclusion will seek to co-opt or pacify participation. This is not grounds for rejecting it, but for fighting harder for it, and understanding the fields of power within which meaningful participation for transformative social change lies.
Our work focuses on issues of systematic social exclusion facing women, people living in extreme poverty, people with disabilities, slaves and bonded labourers and others. This requires a systemic understanding of change, and an activist approach to research. We describe such an approach as participatory practice.
Through our work, we aim to:
- Conduct and support participatory practice that is facilitative and developmental, challenging the dominance of ‘external expert' knowledge in mainstream research approaches.
- Use, develop and share knowledge on participatory methods, which are a key part of participatory practice. These include systemic action research, peer research, participatory mapping, collective analysis, participatory numbers, and visual and digital approaches.
- Employ a holistic learning based approach that is ‘responsive’, ‘reflective and ‘adaptive’, recognising that reality is constantly changing, and that participatory practice means continuous engagement.
Strengthening and Broadening Community-Led Total Sanitation at Scale
The Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) Hub works in collaboration with practitioners, policymakers, researchers, and others in the development, sanitation and related communities, and in governments, international agencies, civil society, research institutes and other organisations. The aim is support CLTS to go to scale sustainably and with quality, broadening its scope, accelerating its spread and adding to its momentum as a movement. More details
Final External Review of the Cross-Cutting Disability Research Programme
This independent external review aimed to determine the extent to which the three year Cross-Cutting Disability Research Programme (CCDRP) in Nepal, India, Zambia, Uganda, and Kenya, has met its expected impact, outcome and outputs. More details
Participate: Knowledge from the margins for post-2015
Ensuring that the most vulnerable and marginalised communities have the opportunity to shape post-2015 policymaking More details
Valuing Volunteering is a global action research project, conducted by VSO in partnership with the Institute of Development Studies, to understand how, when and why volunteering affects poverty. More details
Participation Resource Centre
The Participation Resource Centre holds the combined collections of IDS and the International Institute for Environment and Development. More details
Sharing Lessons, Improving Practice: Maximising the Potential of Community-Led Total Sanitation
CLTS is an innovative methodology for mobilising communities to completely eliminate open defecation (OD). More details
Volunteering in Development: challenging the status quo17 Jun 2015
By Erika Lopez Franco
Gender, Violence and Sanitation: practices to make WASH safer08 May 2015
By Sue Cavill
Minds set in Washington DC30 Apr 2015
By Robert Chambers
The power of connecting insider and outsider relationships29 Apr 2015
By Danny Burns
Launch of Northern India Hotspot Evaluation20 Mar 2015
By Ginny Baumann
An Open Letter in response to the World Development Report 201518 Mar 2015
By Robert Chambers, Petra Bongartz
Valuing Volunteering for a post-2015 era18 Mar 2015
By Melissa Leach
Participation and the post-2015 framework: rhetoric as usual?16 Feb 2015
By Tom Thomas
Thinking outside the box: Using digital to tell the story12 Feb 2015
By Vivienne Benson
Re-building participatory practice as a catalyst for social change06 Feb 2015
By Thea Shahrokh