Participation, Partnership, and Gender equity are the key approaches and overall outcomes of CDS activities. These approaches have been introduced and developed by academics and development practitioners as effective vehicles for promoting economic growth, alleviating poverty and achieving social justice.
The Center for Development Services is committed to participatory approaches in order to assist individuals, communities, and organizations to define their developmental priorities and take meaningful steps toward self-directed, self-sustaining change. CDS participatory approaches are meant to create value for stakeholders’ resources invested in development work put together around strategic themes. These approaches in hands of highly qualified teams of professionals and entrepreneurs engaged with our stakeholders in painstaking processes of planning and management help address the challenges facing development work in diverse settings and boost impact on the well being of thousands of people in the region. Participatory approaches enable the Center for Development Services to facilitate processes of learning and change in diverse communities and organizations. They assure sustainability of results over time and offer higher returns for donor resources while getting people to claim a greater say in the running of their own affairs.
CDS recognizes gender inequality is a significant constraint in development. Gender and Development is one of the key approaches and underlying theme of CDS’ activities. Designing, implementing and evaluating development programs and projects requires incorporation of gender as a crosscutting theme in all these phases, to enable women and men to participate and benefit equally from development initiatives.
The following are examples of participatory approaches we use in our work :
- + The Collaborative Community Action
- Since 1998, CDS has been employing a Collaborative Community Action (CCA) approach: an innovative action research approach through which individuals, members of communities, governmental and non-governmental organizations as well as the private sector, act together to achieve shared goals and outcomes. The experience of CDS during the last ten years indicates that setting-up the CCA framework among civil society actors, government entities, and local communities at an early stage of project implementation is not only feasible but also potentially rewarding. The CCA framework utilizes a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods, tools and techniques that complement one another in order to reach the project's objectives. The CCA approach ensures the involvement of both individual and institutional levels in the design, implementation and evaluation phases of the project/program, ensuring effective and broad outreach of project activities.
- + Participatory Rapid Appraisal
- CDS is known for its efforts in developing practical approaches to qualitative research in the development field where numerical measurements are either impossible or undesirable. CDS pioneered the adaptation of the Participatory Rapid Appraisal (PRA) methodology to the Middle Eastern context. The only Arabic manual to date to guide practitioners in the use of PRA was developed by CDS in the early 1990s. PRA fosters local ownership over and management of information through using a variety of techniques and activities to which local people can easily relate. PRA is designed for individuals, local community members and agencies (government and non-government) involved or newly participating in the field of community development. PRA overall aim is to assist individuals and community members to portray their communities, analyze problems and identify solutions with the ultimate goal of reaching a sustainable development of these communities. Throughout the 1990s and to the present time, PRA has been applied to urban as well as rural communities and adopted for a variety of purposes. Today, CDS' work covers a wide range of approaches in qualitative research and related methodologies, such as the Participatory Poverty Assessment and Social Impact Assessment, implemented by CDS in Egypt and the region.
- + Community-Based Monitoring
- Community Based Monitoring (CBM) is a process where concerned citizens, government agencies, civil society organizations and local institutions collaborate to identify, monitor, and respond to issues of common community concern. It is a periodic process whereby a follow-up of program implementation is conducted to ensure the quality of services and the scope of the work being done. The CBM process involves multi-level communication, creating an information delivery system that transfers the information from the community to the relevant decisionmakers. Collaboration allows the community to better identify common concerns and possible solutions through the collection, evaluation and sharing of information. CBM aims not only to generate the appropriate information for improved service delivery but also seeks to strengthen local decision-making, public education, community capacity and effective public participation in local government. The CBM concept conforms to the worldwide trend of adopting a human rights-based approach to development and setting up sustainable country-led monitoring and evaluation systems, as a means to improved public service delivery. Ensuring the rights of communities and providing information, insight and incentives for more effectively designed interventions and governance are instruments of enhanced livelihoods.
- + Self and Participatory Evaluation
- Participatory self evaluation supports active involvement of those with a stake in any project: partners, NGO, beneficiaries and other interested parties. Participation takes place through all phases of evaluation. Experience has shown that participatory evaluation improves program performance. The self-evaluation process empowers implementing agencies and project stakeholders with great insight and foresight into what approaches and techniques are most effective and efficient for the beneficiaries and other clients of the project. Careful review helps identify what decisions amounted to significant progress and overall success of the project, as well as what obstacles impeded development and achievement of set goals.