Overcoming organizational obstacles to participatory methodologies in Malawi



Armstrong, Lisa

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University of Guelph


This thesis is an investigation of the organizational context within, and the mechanisms through which, participatory methods are being adopted by non-governmental organizations in Malawi. In an attempt to go beyond the traditional analysis of participatory rural development, an evaluation of the experiences of Malawian fieldworkers, NGO directors and independent consultants was conducted. The study suggests that the enthusiasm with which NGOs in Malawi are implementing participatory rural development has not led to the instilling of participatory values in the greater development process. In order to rectify this situation it is recommended that NGOs concentrate more time and resources reflecting on their operational processes so as to improve their internal participatory practice and move closer to becoming learning-based organizations. This approach involves not only creating an environment which embraces continuous learning and encourages staff to pursue creative visions, but improving an organization's infrastructural mechanisms to provide fieldworkers with information and ready contact with their colleagues necessary to effectively implement participatory methodologies at the field level.



Malawi, Non-governmental organizations, Obstacles, Participatory methods, Rural development