Introduction to participatory techniques

1. What is participation and why use this approach?

Participation means the active involvement of people from the community. To successfully identify community owned solutions, as many members of the local community as possible will need to be involved, allowing them to share their views, their knowledge and their ideas.

Two people sat next to each other talking

The key idea of community participation is to build trust and confidence within a group so that a wide diversity of ideas will be represented for community owned solutions. Participation starts with informing, consulting and gaining consent within the community you will be working with. The list below highlights a few key points that can help encourage people to participate.

How to encourage community participation

  • Ensure people understand why you are asking for their opinion. You need to explain clearly what a community owned solution is and when it can be considered a best practice
  • Explain how participating can be beneficial to the community. People need to understand that their opinion is crucial - you want them to find out about their best practices so that these can be further strengthened and supported
  • Find ways for people to play an active role in activities. They should be clearly informed on the content and duration of activities
  • Make sure activities are enjoyable and people feel at ease. They should not feel under pressure or forced to participate

In this course, you will find that there are different levels of participation with the community and different techniques can be used. Activities in this section can either involve a limited number of individuals, or engage the whole community, according to time and logistical constraints.  The following gives information about the different types of approaches that can be used to engage people.