1. Introduction to participatory research for water justice

This submodule gives an introductory presentation on participation action and participatory research methods. It provides a rationale (in this case looking at, ethics and ideals of social justice and the way in which participatory methods are able to promote social justice.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify different ways in which participation is done;
  • Identify different methods of participatory research;
  • Understand participation as an innovative tool for analyzing.

Key Concepts

Social justice, participatory parity, voice, mapping

1. Introduction to Participatory Research for Water Justice

It is essential when trying to deepen democratic processes to engage with citizens at the grass roots levels where decisions impact on everyday lives. This sub-module considers the ideas of participation and citizen voice and why and how these become issues of social justice. A just society is one where voice matters and where decisions are not simply made from the top down.  The sub-module takes you through different techniques that can be deployed to capture voice, level the playing fields and create a more just society.

Watch the following video on Participatory Action and Methods presented by Jaqui Goldin.

You can also access the video here:

Key Readings

Key Readings

Participatory action research

Participatory action research [PDF]

Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions

  • Some say (in fact its Rocheleau 1994) that participation can be ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing - a vehicle for a new form of manipulation or intervention.’ In what instances do you think we could see participation as ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing’ and what exactly is meant by this expression within this context?
  • In the same vein, Guijt and Shah (1998) claim that the language and practice of participation often obscures women’s worlds .. making participatory development an elusive goal. Why do you think Guijt and Shah refer to women’s worlds – and what do they mean by this statement? In what ways could the goal of participatory development be achieved
  • Slide 31 has a list of questions about human behavior. Thinking of human behavior make up your own list of what questions you would need to ask if you want to know more about the behavior of a particular individual or group.

Further Readings

Further readings

  • Chambers, Robert (1997) Whose Reality Counts? Putting the Last First, London: IT Publications.
  • Chambers, Robert (2005) Ideas for Development, London: Institute for Development Studies.
  • Cornwall, Andrea, Karen Brock (2005) “What Do Buzzwords Do for Development Policy? A Critical Look at 'Participation', 'Empowerment' and 'Poverty Reduction',” Third World Quarterly 26(7): pp. 1043-1060.
  • Parfitt, Trevor (2004) “The ambiguity of participation: a qualified defense of participatory development,” Third World Quarterly 25(3): pp. 537-556.
  • Pretty, Jules N., Irene Guijt, et al. (1995) Participatory Learning and Action. A Trainer‟s Guide, London: International Institute for Environment and Development.
  • Rahnema, Majid (1997) “Participation”, in Wolfgang Sachs (ed.) The Development Dictionary. A Guide to Knowledge as Power, New Delhi: Orient Longman Limited.
  • Williams, Glyn (2004) “Evaluating participatory development: tyranny, power and (re)politicization,” Third World Quarterly 25(3): pp. 557-578.

Other related International Waters Lessons and Submodules


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