By Aurelio Menéndez, Economic Development Institute (Washington, D.C.), International Development Centre (Canada), USAID Thailand
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The participants underscored the role of community participation in achieving sustainable interventions. In fact, consensus prevailed regarding the need for affected populations to participate in the design and perhaps management of the policies or programs to ensure their success. The role of the NGO sector was acknowledged as crucial and particularly significant following the economic crisis of the 1980s. Participants highlighted that NGOs present several advantages; for example, they are in a better position than governments and multilateral organizations to identify community needs and priorities, and they can be more innovative and more willing to adopt nonconventional and appropriate technologies.
They have been divided as they were during the workshop discussions between macroand micro-level approaches. Macro-Level Approaches and Government Priorities An initial discussion served to outline the general stance that should be taken toward sizably reducing urban poverty. Several participants, particularly those from Latin-America, suggested that poverty would continue to grow unabated using prevailing means and approaches and poverty reduction may become insurmountable in the coming decades.
5. Nevertheless, one must always bear in mind that community participation is not a unidimensional concept and its effectiveness, even in the areas where it is supposed to be very effective, should not always be taken for granted. Some successes at reaching the poor are based on top-down or outside-in approaches (Tendler 1982, pages 1147). In particular situations, success may be reached as a result of centralization by committed and powerful governments rather than decentralization to local communities where ruling elites may tend to neglect or exclude the local poor.