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Buying Consent

Masooda Bano

Journal of South Asian Development, 2017, vol. 12, issue 3, 213-235

Abstract: Community participation remains central to development policy; but so do concerns that negotiations to achieve it have become a drill devoid of real meaning. Repeatedly, development interventions fail to unlock its presumed benefits: low-cost innovation, good governance and sustainability. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork with the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) in Pakistan, a well-known case of organic community participation, this article demonstrates that the ability to buy consent in the case of donor-funded projects erodes the capacity for real community negotiations to take place. The article argues for closer study of cases such as OPP, known for their strong element of community embeddedness, to understand where things go wrong in aid-induced community participatory projects. It shows how constant negotiations within the community that allowed for the building of trust, the merging of local and technical knowledge, the trialling and adjustments of interventions, and patient lobbying of government officials and field staff are key to unlocking the real benefits of community participation and ensuring social accountability on the part of government agencies. The quick fixes encouraged under development projects, which normally rely on material incentives to generate co-operation, undermine these very principles leading to growing evidence of failure of aid-induced community participatory projects.

Keywords: Organic versus aid-induced participation; aid-effectiveness; Orangi Pilot Project (OPP); low-cost sanitation; Pakistan (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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