Participatory Development (PDev) has been embraced by Third World governments and international organizations such as the World Bank as a means to reduce poverty and empower disadvantaged communities. The emphasis on creating partnerships and using participatory and people-centred approaches has obvious political appeal, yet there is evidence that in practice interventions designed to increase PDev and reduce poverty have yet to have the desired empowerment, transformation and sustainability effect. Using an in-depth study of the Basic Education Improvement Project (BEIP) implemented by the Government of Kenya, the authors of this book critically assess the fit between policy, practice and theory of PDev to shed light on theoretical debates that are on-going in development.
'Making sense of the linkage between the theory and practice of "participatory development" is one of the most challenging tasks in development lexicon. Josephine Mwanzia and Robert Strathdee have produced an insightful book that makes an immense contribution to our understanding of the politics of development in Sub-Sahara Africa.' Jonathan Makuwira, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia 'The book is a significant contribution to participatory democracy and development, challenging the people of Kenya to stand up and take command, responsibility and obligations for the socioeconomic transformation of their society. The destiny of the country is theirs.' John W. Forje, Research Director, CARAD, Yaoundé, Cameroon 'The capacity of participatory development to both democratically empower and efficiently provide public services is a growing question in research on development practice. The authors of this impressive study evaluate one such attempt at participatory development, conducting an in-depth analysis of the Basic Education Improvement Project (BEIP), implemented by the Government of Kenya in conjunction with the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The authors evaluate the project's participatory aims against theoretical frameworks, most particularly that employed by Jim Ife's Community Development: community-based alternatives in an age of globalization (2002).' Journal of Modern African Studies