The challenges of community participation in development projects: a case of community managed projects of plan international - Luwero Program.
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Community Managed Projects (CMP) have become an important form of development assistance in developing countries. However, a look at their conceptual foundations and evidence on their effectiveness shows that projects that rely on community participation have not been particularly effective in targeting the poor. The argument for the CMP approach in much of the literature is mainly to foster ownership, sustainability and accountability in development projects. However, as this particular study expounds, the projects are always faced with numerous challenges and the promises of good outcomes of project initiatives are always hard to come by. This study set out to assess the challenges of community participation in development projects; a case of community managed projects of Plan International in Luwero district. The study employed a survey research design, using both qualitative and quantitative methods in the collection of data. The findings revealed numerous challenges ranging from community to organizational levels that affected the sustainability, ownership of and accountability in these projects. The level of involvement of communities, socio-economic background of CMP beneficiaries, gender, influence of powerful village elites who capture community benefits all contributed to the poor performance of the projects. In addition, obstacles at organizational level like rigid accountability requirements, poorly trained Plan CMP Facilitators and unnecessary demands, featured as major set backs to the CMP initiative. The study recommends commitment of organizations that support CMPs in promoting genuine and effective participation of communities in all stages of the project cycle. Organizations that promote this kind of initiative should be prepared to let communities have effective control over the resources they have provided to them. In addition, a substantial amount of resources need to be committed to training staff and community project leaders to ensure that all stakeholders know their role in facilitating the successful implementation of the projects. However, the challenges that affect CMPs were in no way exhausted by this study. Future researches need to carry out in-depth comparative studies across a number of projects in different settings to discover common features. This needs to cover broader population samples than the single case study done here. More qualitative methodologies and possibly participant observation need to be applied to unravel the community perceptions and attitudes that influence and therefore pause challenges to community participation in CMPs.