Barriers to Community-Level Participation

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0-1 - climate adaptation.

We know that participation of communities is both more effective, sustainable and fair… so why is it so difficult to make it happen? How can we start to address these challenges?

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sg - climate adaptation.

It really is as simple as people are complicated. We all have our own agenda, beliefs and values and it takes time to listen to ensure all voices are heard. Community engagment is really worthwhile when it works. Conflict resolution is required when it doesnt.

highres-0j4a0130 - climate adaptation.

Its a really good question and an important one. I do believe that technology will have a huge part to play. We already see how social media can be used to influence decision-making at the highest levels including elections. If we can get people to interact with a social media post, albeit false, then, it should be possible for people to participate in local decision making. COVID19 has served in some ways to dispel the myth that people won't engage using technology. I've been exploring a few platforms lately that adress some of the challenges such as CitizenLab, Maptionnaire GeodesignHub

img 1492 0 - climate adaptation.

What about communities that don't have good internet access?

pradeep photo - climate adaptation.

Thanks a lot. Yes Technology is one of the soft technology & skills to be used and government is working hard with technology. but looking the whole gamut of scaling and spreading the COVID-19 & climate crisis like recent drought, floods now millions need food, nutrition & wash system to support health system. It needs hard work for food & livelihoods, and resilience-building with added reskilling initiatives to adapt with both climate vulnerability & combat COVID-19. Critical engagement is required for returnee, resource poor, ultra poor communitites

Technology does offer some interesting opportunities! But there is still something of a digital divide - many places don't have reliable access, and it often seems to be very dependent on literacy skills. I'll definitely check out those ones you mentioned..
I also think part of the problem is the the skills and resources for really good participatory work that actively consults communities aren't there. Local actors recognise the need to engage communities, but don't have the right tools or the right resources to do it effectively...

The other aspects which I think important are political and social culture. Different groups/ stakeholders have different capacity (knowledge, skills and resources) to implement both individual or collective actions like adaptation measures. To encourage communities to engage, adaptation should be discussed and decided by local communities themselves from identifying the issues, selecting options to managing the implementation process. Therefore, the selected options should be able to deal with all limitations and weakness of the communities.

If an adaptation measure is beyond local capacity and there is no support available, they will not be able to participate. This also means that local communities have not given the right to discuss and make a decision for their own adaptive options. This is where political and social justice plays their roles in promoting or preventing the local participation in adaptation.

This is definitely key... multiple perspectives are needed to address complex local callenges... and communities need to be part of the whole project cycle.
But I guess the challenge is how to operationailse the subsidiarity. Some decisions need to be taken at a higher spatial scale than say a street or village - so how do we build a culture where communities are included in decisions that take place across those larger spatial scales.
Can technology play a role in doing that?
Or is it more a question of getting devolution right?

icon jpeg - climate adaptation.

"We know that participation of communities is both more effective, sustainable and fair… so why is it so difficult to make it happen? How can we start to address these challenges?"

I'd add to the above answers the lack of finances and funding, both for community rooted organisations looking to do work and for participants. Where is the funding for small scale, community based environmental work - particularly around adaptation? There isn't any.

The vast majority of environmental funders channel funds to large organisations that are part of established networks - a 'top down' approach that by nature impedes community based projects.

As for the premise 'We know that participation of communities is both more effective, sustainable and fair' - I agree. But it would be useful to have some evidence to back that up, so a case can be built.