Launched in 2012, the Participate initiative undertook participatory research to gather high quality evidence on the reality of poverty and marginalisation at ground level. Comprising a network of 18 participatory research organisations working with poor and marginalised groups in 29 countries, it aimed to bring the perspectives of those left behind into the post-2015 debate. Its work aimed to influence decision-makers in the run up to 2015 and thereby affect the shape of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
With the launch of the SDGs in 2015, the initiative focused on participatory monitoring and accountability. Maintaining the ‘leave no one behind’ approach to the post-2015 development agenda, Participate launched its second phase, the Participatory Monitoring and Accountability (PMA) programme, in November 2015. It piloted ways to foster learning processes about participatory accountability for the most marginalised. This second phase highlighted:
- that marginalisation is perpetuated when development initiatives do not address intersecting inequalities (Burns et al 2013), and
- sustainable solutions mean developing capacities, facilitating spaces for dialogue with decision makers, and shifting behaviours towards relationships of accountability across multiple spaces and levels.
Building on previous work, the current phase focuses on the need to consider and address intersecting inequalities – the spatial, economic and identity-based drivers of poverty and inequality – if the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are to be successful. Funded by the Sustainable Development Programme of the British Academy, the initiative is working with five partners and will open spaces for the engagement of marginalised groups and other stakeholders – peers, community, business, service providers, funders, government – by building multi-level relationships and communication processes across the wider system.
Its key aims are to:
- Use participatory learning to explore the experiences of intersectionality of highly marginalised groups in India, Uganda, South Africa, Ghana and Egypt
- Foster on-going dialogue between these groups, duty bearers and other stakeholders in order to generate theoretical and practical knowledge on how to develop accountable relationships in reality
- Provide evidence and insight for policy makers about effective pathways to inclusive and responsive governance, and make a timely input to knowledge on the role of participatory processes in increasing sustainable impact during SDG implementation.
The project aims to generate missing knowledge on how to promote inclusive, accessible, accountable and equitable societies, governance and institutions. Participatory methodologies are being used throughout the project and include story-telling, visual methods and participatory action research.
Background to the programme
The initiative was established to provide high quality evidence on the reality of poverty at ground level, bringing the perspectives of the poorest into the global debate on what should follow the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Participate’s overarching aims are to:
- Bring the perspectives of those living in poverty into decision-making processes
- Embed participatory research in global policy-making
- Use research with the poorest as the basis for advocacy with decision-makers
- Ensure that marginalised people have a central role in holding decision-makers to account throughout the life of the SDGs
- Generate knowledge, understanding and relationships for the global public good
Since 2012 Participate has worked with a variety of research organisations who have come together as the Participatory Research Group (PRG).
Participate’s first phase was funded by the UK Government, and through a Programme Partnership between Irish Aid and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS). The second phase was implemented in partnership with UNICEF and UNDP. The current phase is funded by the Sustainable Development Programme of the British Academy.