Participatory approaches: a facilitator’s guide

Participatory approaches: a facilitator’s guide

How to facilitate participatory processes with multiple stakeholders

The benefits of participatory approaches can only be felt if all those involved have a common understanding and set of expectations. This guide, designed for volunteers, partner organisations and staff, is based on VSO’s experience on promoting participation. The authors hope that it will also prove useful to the wider development community. The guide is divided into three parts, which are available as three separate PDF files.

The first part of the guide looks at basic elements and assumptions for good practice including: 

  • Comparing participatory approaches with top-down approaches and looking at a range of different participatory approaches and the benefits and challenges of different approaches 
  • How to facilitate participatory processes with multiple stakeholders and a framework to help plan and organise work at different levels of participation throughout successive phases of development processes and projects 
  • Key facilitation skills needed to support participatory activities

The second part collates a range of participatory methods that have been used successfully in the field by VSO and others. Examples are given of methods that can be used for specific purposes such as Participatory Organisational Appraisal and Gender/Diversity Analysis.

The third part gives some tips on how to choose the most appropriate tools and participatory exercises, and how to organise participatory workshops and small group activity.
This section systematically records a range of tools providing an at-a-glance reference of which tools are appropriate for which stage of the development process, the level of participation for which they are most suitable and the dominant communication type used. Illustrative case studies are also included. The authors stress that not every tool will work in every situation or culture, certainly not without adaptation.
[adapted from the authors]