Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

James Levinson


Community participation is now recognized as a vital ingredient in successful development projects, this following the acknowledged failure of an entire generation of “top down” projects. Even with this recognition, however, many development projects have not yet been successful in eliciting such participation. While the language is common in project documents, the reality often falls short.

To examine actual levels of participation and their determinants, a case study was conducted on projects being implemented by the Damazine office of the non governmental organization (NGO) Practical Action in Sudan. The data was conducted using questionnaires, group discussions and observations.

The study found that the level of participation within particular communities was, overall, lower than desired, this despite the NGO’s explicit commitment to community responsibility for these projects. Actual levels of community participation were strongly associated with economic status in these communities, with the level of organization of the Village Development Committee, and with the length of time community members had been aware of the project. Community participation was also strongly associated with the effective implementation of projects although the direction of the causality here is unclear.

Community participation was highest in problem identification, lowest in project implementation and evaluation. Managerial responsibility was entirely external.

Participation in the project by women was relatively low given their time consuming domestic responsibilities and local traditions.

To increase both community participation and effectiveness in such projects, the study recommends more explicit capacity assessment and capacity development, a more significant community role for the community in all aspects of project design which itself will generate increased local empowerment, and more gender sensitivity in the organization of these projects.


Civic and Community Engagement | Growth and Development


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