Recent years have seen a rapid expansion of efforts to applying participatory approaches to promoting policy change. The so-called ‘participatory poverty assessment’ has formed a major part of this. This handbook was commissioned to fill a gap in the current literature on participatory research and policy – namely practical guidance for development practitioners. The things we aim to do are:
· Summarise key messages from recent experience
· Provide guidance on appraising at the country level whether a PPA might make a useful contribution to improving the effectiveness of poverty reduction policy
· Provide guidance to designing the process to ensure that the PPA will have a beneficial impact on policy
· Provide help in finding useful literature and technical assistance.
The handbook should be more useful early in the process of conceiving and designing a PPA – rather than later. This reflects reality, inasmuch as once policy and operational processes are up and running the variations in the institutional context mean that generic guidance is likely to become less useful. Nonetheless, those trying to work with and manage participatory policy research might still find a summary of recent experience useful, even at later stages in the process.
The handbook is divided into three sections, following this introduction. Section 2 deals with the nature of PPAs, and their history and origins. The third section takes the reader through various functional stages in the development of a PPA – with basic guidance in what information is needed to make informed decisions, and what the key considerations will be at each point. This section also considers potential future directions for development practice arising out of the experience of PPAs.
The final section of the handbook provides two case studies that illustrate in practice the process of conceiving, designing and implementing a PPA.