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DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS AND CLIENT PARTICIPATION JON GRESHAM JULY 1985 What is meant by development?

For the purposes of this paper we will define development as the process of promoting a better quality of life for the objects of the project. We will not attempt to define this "better quality of life."

What this paper will define is the need for development projects to make the most of the "people" resources available during this development process. All types of projects, whether their scope is National, or Individual, can benefit from active client participation in all aspects of the projects.

Development projects are generally aimed at accomplishing one or more of four objectives: National development, Regional/Community development, Societal development, and Individual development (Maunder, 1972). At any level of development, the immediate recipient of help wants attention to his immediate perceived needs. For programs aimed at the individual, personal needs such as potable water, food, or housing may appear to be more important than national activities such as reduction of the trade deficit. At the other end, governmentlevel programs, such as national pollution control, may be far removed from involvement of the small farmers affected. Don't national programs really need the participation of nonbureaucrats? Why shouldn't policies at the national government level need to consider the feelings of a minority rural populace that may be illiterate? '

Program Operation A common development sequence may consist of roughly six activities: A. Situation Analysis B. Identification of the Problem C. Proposal of Alternative Solutions D. Project Strategy Development 'Situation' analysis means looking at the various factors that may be involved in the object of the proposed work. This usually includes a look at the many political, cultural, social, religious, and economic values. It also attempts to analyze the physical factors of geography, climate, and natural resources available. The purpose of the situation analysis is to have at hand a complete picture of all the variables, no matter how small, that could in some way , in any way, affect the project.

'Problem identification' is the phase that should

attempt

to quantify the aspect of life that must be changed in order to achieve some

better quality of life. The important point here is to cut through the various social, political, cultural, etc., factors that may cloud the "root problem." It is easy to find "some problem" that should be corrected, but it is much more difficult, and necessary, to identify the real problem that may be the cause of the other more obvious difficulties. Attempting to treat the surface problems without understanding the underlying cause will just be treating the symptoms and not the disease.

'Alternative solutions' arise out of a desire to solve the problem(s) identified. There seldom is just one solution to a given development problem. If only one solution is proposed for a problem, it is bound to reflect an incomplete understanding of the entire situation. "Integrated Development" is a common phrase used to describe a development process that looks at society as s whole, realizing that there is no quick fix" for the serious problems facing so many countries in the world. A team approach to development planning has helped to bring in a

wider picture of the effects of the development project. Increasing the number of possible solutions to a given problem increases the possibility that the "real problem" may actually be addressed by the project.

Successful problem-solving includes the brainstorming activities that generate a multitude of possibilities and then combines and molds them into a package of ideas that are so closely intertwined that they "integrate" a holistic comprehension of all the factors involved. Effective (doing the right things) and efficient (doing the things right) problemsolving in a development setting will make an active effort to solicit the involvement of all parties affected, at all levels of society. This is important because of the wide divergence of opinion concerning the "problem." What is a major problem to one sector of society may be totally inconsequential to another sector, even if the latter sector depends upon the former for food, power, protection, etc.

'Project strategy development' is the phase of planning that determines the optimum course of action to achieve the desired results. The usual assumption is that if certain inputs are provided, desired outputs will result, thus achieving the purpose of the project. Another assumption is that the end result will justify the means used. From these assumptions, based on the elements of what must be done, and why, the project strategy designs the "how" aspects--how to provide the inputs needed, and how to determine project completion (verification). A last assumption is that participants in the project will have a certain degree of personal integrity, allowing completion of project activities. 'Project implementation' is the carrying out of the project strategy, doing the things that need to be done to achieve the desired results, in the right time, and in the right manner.

Lastly, 'project evaluation' is the area holding the greatest potential for successful completion of future projects--the possibility to learn from past activities to determine which were helpful and which were detrimental. The project evaluation is often the weakest element -of the project. No one wants their mistakes and failures made known to others, particularly public officials and their agents. Evaluation is also is affected by the standard of personal values and beliefs of those involved in the project, and the internal conflict with the personal drive and motivational incentive.

The absence of objectively verifiable indicators may allow a project to be carried out, and paid for, without ever achieving a measurable degree of change in the object of the project.

Complexity in Development Planning

Results of development projects are not easily predictable because of the many, varied factors that are not readily identifiable. Four common problems can be summarized from Delbecq, Van de Ven, and Gustafson, 1975, and Delbecq and Van de Ven, 1971: i. A resistance to change, and the resulting freeze on resources 2. A conflict of interest between the groups involved 3. The power gradient between "tecnocrats" and general populace 4. Ignorance of the possible benefits from change.

These four factors are representative of the hidden, or notso-hidden, problems that planners find hindering their work in development. There is no single prescribed formula for development. Every situation is different, and must have adequate attention given to explore all of the aspects of life that impinge upon the proposed project. The complexity of any project makes mandatory the accumulation of all information that may influence the proposed activity. Thus, no government official has access to all of the facts needed. No one branch of a government has all the information. Not even all the branches of the government together have enough.

Appropriate program-planning processes must be adopted to cope with these complex planning situations (Delbecq, Van de Ven, and Gustafson, 1975). -Obtaining early review of the planning intent, and a clear mandate from top-level decision makers concerning the general approach followed in developing the program. -Involving clients or consumers in problem exploration meetings to document unmet needs. -Involving outside resource people (both scientific and technical) to help explore components of an appropriate program to solve those needs. -Involving administrators, funding sources, clients, and professionals in an early review of program plans. -Involving appropriate personnel in developing designs for implementation and evaluation. -Involving other personnel, from organizations who will be later adopters of the new program, as participant observers in a demonstration program, to prepare the way for technological transfer or diffusion of innovative programs.

The program planning must stress involvement of many persons representing the whole spectrum of humanity involved. The days of bending the force of development around the personal whims of persons in power should be drawing to a close. Funding agencies are attempting to enforce accountability for the funds that they disperse, trying to ensure that the resources supplied make their way into the hands of proper recipients, in the proper manner.

If power-holders do not actively involve their "subjects" in the planning and accomplishment of development projects, then these authorities will probably act to fulfill their own personal needs. They will use people to fulfill their needs, and so become dependent on them. They will fear people because dependence on others means yielding of control to others who may also use and abuse.

They will also despise those not living up to their expectation that others have a responsibility to meet their needs.

Personal insecurity of those in power is increased when they are divorced from their clientele. This divorce is indicated by an emphasis on personal comfort rather than on personal commitment to their subjects' welfare.

Bringing Society Together for the Common Good The philosophy of government must change from exploitation of the masses of rural people to recognition of a responsibility for their welfare (Maunder, 1972). For any government to build a successful program of agricultural development, it must stress involvement of the people. "This includes such matters as analyzing with people the problems such programs are designed to solve; informing them as to technical and other available resources, explaining why such programs are desirable; obtaining a commitment from people to cooperate; organizing people to use resources made available; obtaining the views of people on ways of making these programs most effective under local conditions; and training leaders for local administration of programs to the extent practicable" (Maunder, 1972). Any program must fit carefully into the peculiar aspects of the local setting into which it seems appropriate. National patriotism may motivate a few people for a time, but for a long-term commitment to a project, that project must reflect local needs and concerns.

Maunder (1972) says "popular acceptance of a program is in direct ratio to the degree that local representatives have participated in the conception and formulation of the program, and that progress comes faster when those who are supposed to be helped have something to say about the programme in the beginning". It is absolutely invalid to assume that development project progress will be satisfactory to all participants just because all participants are allowed to participate in some way in the process. "Town-Hall meetings where local citizens are asked to comment on their needs and feelings do not appear to provide an environment for truthful sharing of local needs and concerns at a personal level. All sorts of inhibitions interact to prevent all participants in the discussion meeting to feel satisfied

with the outcome.

Leaders must hear and understand the voices of their clients. Valuable tools for any development planner and administrator are the problem-solving techniques of the Nominal Group Technique of Delbecq and Van de Ven and the Delphi technique of Dalkey and associates at the RAND Corporation. Both of these techniques promote participant satisfaction by minimizing the counterproductive aspects of discussion group activities. Delbecq and Van de Ven (1974) state that "the degree of differences in effectiveness between NGT and interacting (discussion group) processes, and between delphi and interacting groups, is important and large."

They suggest that "the NGT be used for situations where people are easily brought together physically, and for problems requiring immediate data, and that the Dalkey delphi technique be used for situations where the cost and inconvenience of bringing people together face-to-face is very high, and for problems that do not require immediate solution. Both the nominal group technique and the delphi method are more effective than the conventional discussion group process."

Managers and administrators of development projects need to carefully plan how they will involve their clients at all levels in the development planning and implementation phases, as well as in the project evaluations. Developers may wish to pursue an investigation of making the most of their project dollars by structuring NGT or delphi group problem-solving activities into the various phases of the project. The days of the all-knowing and all-wise benevolent autocrat making all decisions for his subjects is past. It is time to make the most of a ruler's greatest resource--the problem-solving ability of his people.

REFERENCES

Delbecq, A.L. and Van de Ven, A.H. (1971). A Group Process Model for Problem Identification and Program Planning. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 7, 466-492. Delbecq, A.L. and Van de Ven, A.H. (1974). The Effectiveness of Nominal, Delphi, and Interacting Group Decision Making Processes. Academy of Management Journal, 17(4), 605-621. Delbecq, A.L., Van de Ven, A.H., and Gustafson, D.H. (1975). Group Techniques for Program Planning. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman and Company. Maunder, A.H. (1972). Agricultural Extension. Rome: FAO.