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Participatory analysis

Participatory approaches are sometimes viewed simplistically as fun, visual ways to generate interesting information and stop at this point, with a large amount of unstructured information that is taken away from those who generated it, analysed but never checked back due to lack of time or resources. Reflection on material generated through a participatory process is an important part of the process as this is where patterns are identified and issues prioritised. The people who undertake this reflection and analysis have a great deal of influence over outcomes from a process including any recommendations made. By taking away from the people who generated the information and analysing it remotely it is easy to misunderstand meanings. A community map may not make much sense to someone who does not know the local area or local words and symbols used. An outsider trying to make sense of it may thus miss important aspects and make wrong judgements about what is important to local people.

AP interactive decision tree - click any node to select it

Undertaking the process of reflection and analysis with those who generated it, with stakeholders (or within a community), not only considerably increases the quality of the data, ideas and solutions that come out of the process but also enables those who participated to gain confidence in their ability to represent their views to others. By delving deeper into the causes of the problems and understanding more about why these issues are important and the reasons behind them, it becomes possible to identify realistic and relevant solutions. At each stage of analysis judgements are inevitably made about which pieces of information are most important for providing a clear picture of what is happening and identifying satisfactory solutions. It is thus important to consider who is making these judgements.


Read more in the Toolbox under the following category:

Participatory analysis tools

This section is based on the UNEP PROVIA guidance document

Criteria checklist

1. You want to implement adaptation actions.
2. The phases of "Getting started" have been adressed.
3. There is agreement about which stakeholders need to be involved.
4. Implementing the plan is within the (perceived) responsibility of the stakeholders identified.
5. Potential stakeholders do not have the (perceived) capacity and will to engage.