Power, politics, and performance: community participation in South African public works programs

Michelle Adato, John Hoddinott, Lawrence James Haddad
research report

Through a study of seven public works programs implemented in Western Cape province, this report examines the benefits and challenges of pursuing community participation, together with the effects of participation on meeting the other objectives of the programs. Although aspects of South Africa’s experience are unique to its political economy, the study’s findings reveal insights, dilemmas, and possibilities of considerable relevance in the wider context of participatory or “community-driven” development programs, which have increasingly become integral to the development agenda throughout the world.and were not trained...Politics, conflicts of interest, struggles over resources, and processes of consultation and consensus-building are part of the landscape of community-driven development. If participatory development is to remain on South Africa’s development agenda, all actors must commit to realizing this objective, including generating sufficient resources, creativity, and patience to see the process through.