The Participatory Approach (PA)

The participatory approach (PA) introduced with participatory rural appraisal and participatory action research (Chambers 1994) has taken momentum with the World Bank study at the beginning of the millennium that asked the poor in 47 countries what it meant to be poor (Narayan et al. 2000). The PA acknowledges the expertise of people who directly experience poverty as it avoids externally imposed views and conceptions. By giving a voice to the poor, it is argued that this approach provides vulnerable populations with an opportunity to defend their interests. The PA can additionally aid the construction of a list of basic capabilities and prioritize these needs, which is useful for policymakers (Saith 2001). However, the PA has been criticized due to adaptive preferences (Sen 1999; Teschl and Comim 2005). People adjust to adverse and unfair circumstances and do not question the order of things (Nussbaum 2000). This translates in high level of self-perception of wellbeing. There are also concerns that the PA may still exclude the poorest whose voices may remain unheard (Laderchi 2007).

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