Participation is dynamic process aimed at involving the masses so that they can formulate their own end goals and work together to realise them. Masses cannot be forced to participate in projects which affect their lives but should be given the opportunity where possible.
Empowerment Empowerment is an initiated process that enables the masses to gain power and extend it in such a way that they can use this power to share in changing social, economic and political structures. Empowerment is successful if the participants regard the result of their action as beneficial. Therefore participation is a cornerstone of empowerment. It is a prerequisite for achieving empowerment. Empowerment is one of the consequences of participation, which means that if we want masses to gain power, they must participate. Empowerment is generally seen as a key for good quality of life, increased human dignity, good governance, pro-poor growth, project effectiveness and improved service delivery (Narayan. 2002. 8.).
Bureaucracy It means the structure and set of regulations that control the activities of people that work for these organizations. It is characterized by standardized procedure (rule-following), formal division of responsibility, hierarchy, and impersonal relationships. Bureaucratic leader are concerned with ensuring workers follow rules and procedures accurately and consistently. The bureaucracy does not create or initiate policy, but it does implement policy decisions.
Why mass participation and empowerment are important Empowerment puts people at the centre of the development process; it implies a participatory approach to development focusing on bottom-up approaches rather than top-down bureaucratic methods. Empowerment increases the capabilities of the poor to influence and hold accountable the institutions that provide for them. To this end, empowerment attempts to give power and knowledge to rural communities to assist in creating a better quality of life, so that in the future they will have the skills to rely less on external forces to provide vital services and infrastructure.
Mass participation is an essential part of the process of good local governance, and empowerment. To be meaningful, these processes must be seen as fundamental values of Healthy Cities and so must be developed as an integral part of long-term strategic development. Empowerment of mass is associated with cleaner business and government, and better governance. Specifically, the greater their involvement in public life, the lower the level of corruption, even in countries with the same income, civil liberties, education, and legal institutions.
Masses Empowerment through inclusion, voice, and accountability can also promote social cohesion and trust, qualities that help reduce corruption, reinforce government and project performance, and provide a conducive environment for reform, with consequential benefits for development effectiveness and economic growth. Finally, empowerment or lack of it can also have positive or negative socio-political effects on the outcomes of countries’ poverty reduction efforts.
Why the concept of mass participation has been illusive in the third world
There are some serious failures of the international community to contribute meaningfully to empowerment and participatory approaches. If countries are not willing to support countries that need help, then the future is bleak. Aid allocations need to increase if meaningful solutions are to occur. Making the rural poor involved in empowerment and participatory programs is hard to achieve due to their social exclusion. The gap between the poor in rural areas and those who are more wealthy is large and widening
Because the rural poor are socially excluded, often development organisations such as the World Bank think of the poor are ignorant and complacent. More often they are not excluded from participating in projects in a meaningful way, due to pre existing biased views that they are not worthy, or indeed, have the skills to participate effectively. (Courtney et all in Godinot and Wodon (ed). 2006. 3).
Lack of empowerment amongst rural people leads to their vulnerability and thus most development projects tend to benefit the benefactors rather than the beneficiaries. In light of this sustainable development is not achieved because non-participation of local people means that rural development is not self-sustaining. Therefore, local rural people play an important role in rural development because they understand their situation and problems better than the government, aid agencies and other stakeholders.
This highlights the gap between the reality and ideal of empowerment and participatory development where the poor themselves are considered the centre of the process and the most vital players. Rural areas in developing countries experience large problems associated with access to basic amenities and services. Attempts to resolve this situation involve development programs using community empowerment in rural areas of developing nations to ameliorate instances of poverty.
The aspirations deep inside the poor can only be brought out by making them the centre of the development process. They have difficulty expressing them due to their exclusion.
How mass participation and empowerment are promoted or discouraged by the action of bureaucracy
The problem with bureaucracy is that Executives want to control everything; even the simplest administrative decision has to be approved at the top. . One problem is unnecessary delays in outputs (Waterston 1965:259) , for even though there are more than enough officials in the lower administrative ranks, they are not effectively employed in the posts to which they were appointed.
Political involvement of officials – when bureaucracy becomes involved in politics, this stimulates corruption. Officials start taking decision and performing actions that will benefit themselves, or groups in which they have an interest.
Corruption is out of control. Development funds are siphoned off to hire friends or relatives. In some cases the money simply disappears.
The misuse of office by government functionaries is relatively common in areas of public procurement, revenue collection, government appointments and contracts, licensing and permits. In these areas of specialty, graft and venality are readily executed through anyone of the following activities:
The civil servant receives from a private contractor a fixed percentage of awarded government contracts; the kickback may be in kind, such as free education for the children in foreign institutions, or in cash, paid directly into bank account.
Police or other law enforcement agents use the threat of sanctions to extort bribes in lieu of official fees or taxes. But paying bribes to avoid taxes or fees is equally damaging to society since governments depend on such revenues to provide public goods. The relative absence of revenues from taxes and fees also means less compensation for civil servants, which leads to more corrupt practices. One of the reasons adduced by low- level government employees for demanding bribes is the infrequency of their monthly salary. Government employees in essential services, e.g. law enforcement, electric power supply, telecommunication etc.
Customs agents insist on payments above the official rates or side payments before providing requisite services to both importers and exporters. Those unwilling to pay bribes stand the chance of losing their merchandise through forfeiture or theft.
Civil servants award large contracts to companies owned by relatives or partners, and in return receive an agreed upon fee or lavish hospitality.
Officials responsible for permits and licenses demand extra payment for services ordinarily called for by their office; in cases where expediency is requested, a great deal more is demanded to speed-up the process.
Bureaucracies’ themselves create the causes of corruption. Salaries are low, housing is poor, officials lack professional qualification and status, all of which means that officials do not feel motivated to do good work, or to be loyal to the organisation.
When a country’s resources are continually misallocated by corrupt government officials bent on maximizing their short-run selfish interests, development is severely hindered through a multitude of social and economic dislocations. The bureaucracy is unresponsive to the needs of the public; there is an atmosphere of official’s indifference and unsympathetic attitude toward the needs of the people. This is caused by the strictly centralised nature of the bureaucracies, the lack of mass participation and consequent lack of contact with the populace.
A bureaucracy, crucially, is not only a structure, a mere organigramme with functional relationships and roles. It is a group of people with lives, emotions, aspirations, energy, passion and values. Those that work in them often have strong values, great intentions and good ideas. Most want to do good and not be negative. Somehow, however, good intent can evaporate as the dynamic of the organizational ‘system’ unfolds. Can the positive virtues and potential of public sector bureaucracies and the people working in them be rediscovered? These include fostering fairness, equity, and equality of opportunity, being neutral and transparent. These are important achievements of democracy, yet the focus on efficiency can obscure these intentions.
The most effective organizations are those where people feel they can be engaged and where their commitment to the organization lies beyond a contractual relationship and where a deeper emotional bond can be established both to the work itself and the organization. In these situations people feel they are able ’to be our true selves’ and to have a ‘creative presence’ so that working gives the sense of ‘pregnant possibilities’ and where they can develop ‘an intensity that feels and appears effortless’. Here energy and passion can come into alignment.
Conclusion /My view
The participation of communities in development projects is a major aspect of an empowering approach. Participation works well at the small scale. Community based organisations if trained correctly can manage and supervise locally based construction and maintenance activities very effectively (Meshack. 2004. 61). There is a fine balance between success and failure of participation in that it needs to be locally based with little input from external forces.
Governments and donors can in fact undermine contributions made by the community in that they take over projects and locals lose their sense of ownership (Meshack. 2004. 61).
Participation in development projects does however need outside stakeholders but the community needs to be the one driving the project, as there are many people who can contribute to a development project.
Empowerment involves expanding the capabilities of the poor. Its main process involves putting the community at the centre of the development process. The community becomes empowered due to the fact that they have a certain degree of control over their own resources, they gain a sense of ownership over the service or infrastructure being provided.
One of the main concepts involved in creating efficient empowering projects include the access of the community to information, as informed citizens make better development decisions.
Accountability in the development process is another crucial aspect of an empowering approach. Increasing the capabilities of the poor specifically refers to local organisational capacity. This is when a community works together to mobilise resources and tackle problems as a group. This is another major process involved in community empowerment.
Courtney from Study Moose
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