Since their introduction in the 1970s, participatory methods and techniques have become central tools for community development and have been applied in a variety of contexts and sectors. Participatory approaches to development are promoted on the basis that they support effective project implementation and enhance the well-being of the poor. Although the poor are becoming increasingly involved in the various stages of development, questions remain as to whether their inclusion constitutes genuine participation and whether people's capabilities have been increased in such a manner as to enable them to chart the course of their destinies in collaboration with the government, NGOs and the international community. This paper seeks to address these broader issues within the specific context of participatory freedom. Its main goals are to:
provide an overview of five participatory approaches and techniques that can be used; and
introduce key issues for consideration when assessing the degree to which specific participatory approaches may contribute to enhancing the capabilities of individuals and communities.