The last decade has witnessed the development of an impressive array of methods to empower citizens and promote participatory governance: participatory budgeting in Brazil, public service monitoring in Bangladesh, evidence-based policy advocacy in Uganda. These approaches have brought and continue to bring substantial benefits in terms of improved governance, citizen empowerment and tangible development results, but many practitioners remain unaware of them.
The CIVICUS Participatory Governance programme, in collaboration with a global network of regional partners, is currently supporting skills-building programmes for practitioners from some 20 countries. The programmes begin with regional-level skills-building workshops to help practitioners enrich their understanding of the fundamental principles of participatory governance, expand their knowledge of practical methods, and develop their ability to translate learning into practical interventions. The workshops culminate in the creation of regional networks, made up of workshop participants and their partners and peers, to allow participating organizations to continue peer learning and build national, regional and global alliances. The final stage consists of providing ‘innovation grants’ that offer direct operational support to a small number of selected participatory governance initiatives. The projects are documented and lessons shared sector-wide.
In the past four months, the Participatory Governance programme has supported four regional workshops in South Asia, South America, West Africa and Southern Africa. Similar programmes are planned for South-East Asia, Central America and the Middle East/North Africa region during the first half of 2009. Ultimately, the programme aims to reach 2,000 participatory governance practitioners around the world.