Participatory Development: A Sustainable Approach for Reducing Inequality and Fighting Poverty? The Example of Disability Policies in Afghanistan
In this chapter, Bakhshi and Trani take discussions of empowerment and participation from a capability perspective further. They argue that despite the well-intended claims of international frameworks and actors, ownership and empowerment have been misused in development practice as well as theory. Development efforts can be criticised for failing to take into consideration the voices of the most vulnerable in given contexts. This is illustrated with reference to the evolution of a disability programme in post-Taliban Afghanistan. The first part of their chapter shows that most development programmes, including the Afghan project, define participation in narrow terms to involve little more than basic service delivery communicated through ‘consultations’ with select local stakeholders. The agency aspect of the capability approach, which has the potential to empower the marginalised and socially excluded, is lost altogether. The second part of their chapter shows how the absence of well-defined principles for participation and effective change in fragile contexts, such as Afghanistan, affects progress towards improving the lives of aid ‘recipients’ and pose serious threats to the sustainability of development projects. The authors advance strong arguments for involving the ‘recipients of aid’ in all phases of development projects and for transferring power to enhance agency.
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