Title: Barriers to Community Participation in Development Planning: Lessons from the Mutengene (Cameroon) Self-Help Water Project

Authors: Ambe J. Njoh

Summary: Community Development Journal, 37(3): 233-248; 2002
Recommended Audience: Technical consultants, agency planners, public sector watershed managers, and specialists/educators responsible for ensuring community involvement.

Review: The highlighted West African project to provide safe drinking water dates back to 1959 and the review of the case provides insight for the changing as well as constant political and social factors of involvement. The following constraints to effective community involvement are identified and discussed: the paternalistic posture of authorities, prescriptive role of the state, embellishment of successes, selective participation, hard-issue bias, intra/inter-group conflicts, gate-keeping by leaders, excessive pressures for immediate results, disinterest within the primary beneficiary community, population size, and the belief system(s) of the beneficiary community. The author notes consistency of the findings from the study with several other recent studies.

Implications: The comparisons and applications for the constraints within the U.S. are striking. Agency policy makers as well as those who work to implement and facilitate community involvement in watershed management will find the discussion beneficial in understanding the barriers faced in creating successful and meaningful involvement. The insights provided challenge us to consider how we might reduce and address these impediments.

Resource(s): Barriers to Community Participation