An assessment of the participatory approaches used in participatory village development in isolated areas project in Chongwe district, Zambia

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Mooto, Linda Nalukui
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The University of Zambia
This study was an assessment of the participatory approaches used in the Participatory Village Development in Isolated Areas (PAVIDIA) project in Chongwe District. The study sought to assess the quality of the participatory approaches used by Japanese International Cooperation Agency in their PAVIDIA project in Chongwe District. The main objective was to measure the extent to which the approaches used by PAVIDIA were participatory. The specific objectives were: To assess the methods used by PAVIDIA; to find out how participatory the methods used by PAVIDIA were; to assess the approaches used by PAVIDIA; to determine the level of participation in the selection for project participants; to determine the retention of knowledge and skills acquired. The research design used by the study was a descriptive survey that combined the use of quantitative and qualitative processes in collecting data and describing the participatory approaches of PAVIDIA. Data was collected using interviews, observation and group interviews. The data were collected from two categories of people: the project participants and the facilitators. The sample population of the study was 195 project recipients and five extension workers and facilitators. The study revealed that participation is not easy to measure because it has different meanings and scales of measurement. The level of participation could be interpreted as both high and low depending on the measurement instrument used. When participation was measured in terms of retention of acquired knowledge and skills an indicator of a community that has undergone participation the level was quite high. The level of retention of skills and knowledge was high especially among those participants who were involved in running the project. The study also revealed that those involved in the project remembered almost everything they learnt. It further established that the PAVIDIA approach involved many approaches brought together to form one. A combination of participatory training tools was drawn from participatory rural appraisal, META plan and participatory extension approach. Lastly the study revealed that participation in PAVIDIA is at two levels: programme level on the one hand and process level on the other. At programme level participation is in the form of instructions, the approaches by the program providers and facilitators working together. At process level participation involves the facilitators and project participants, here participatory methods are used. Arising from the difficulty of assessing the quality of participation, this study concludes that it is possible to have a frame of reference and guidelines for those involved in community development. Secondly is it is also necessary to have multi-stakeholders engagement in the research process in order to link it more closely with the overall process of development
Rural development projects--Zambia