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Transcript of Theme 3: Facilitation Skills for Public · PDF fileAdvanced Training Course on...

  • Advanced Training Course on Moderation/Facilitation Skills 3-7 December 2002, Kathmandu, Nepal

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    Theme 3: Facilitation Skills for Public Participation

  • Advanced Training Course on Moderation/Facilitation Skills 3-7 December 2002, Kathmandu, Nepal

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    Planning for Participation Community and Public Participation has become increasingly important for Local Government in recent years. Participation has been recognised as being one of the fundamental elements of effective development processes and projects. Increased Participation in Government is an essential part of all types of Government reform, and is especially relevant at the Local Government level. Participation is a key element of good Governance and it also increases the efficiency and the effectiveness of the decision-making (and policy development) processes. In recent times, enhanced participation has also been required as Local Governments have become the facilitators of all kinds of relationship -building between various stakeholders in the local area. Participants may be individuals, groups, NGOs and/or members of the civil society. They may also be from other Government agencies and institutions, and Private sector representatives. Such participation does not simply happen as an unmanaged process. Successful participation is often via a facilitated process or through a series of processes. This these processes are ideally designed, delivered and managed by "facilitators". Facilitators are simply people who are skilled in the processes of facilitation. Hence this program is about enhancing your skills and knowledge about facilitation processes and techniques, so that you may, in turn, pass them on to others.

  • Advanced Training Course on Moderation/Facilitation Skills 3-7 December 2002, Kathmandu, Nepal

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    What is Public Participation? There is no official, authorised definition of 'public participation" in Local Government. In one sense there has always been some form of participation in Local Government as there have always been people taking part - the question is more usefully "which people and how do they take part?". Typically, in elected forms of Local Government, all citizens have at least been involved in the voting process, and of course others maybe involved as elected local representatives. Others may belong to local lobby groups, NGOs or the so-called 'civil society'. Or they belong to other government institutions or agencies. Or, they be representatives of local businesses, the private sector or even overseas interests. All of these individuals or groups may be regarded as the 'public' and hence all of them may be included in 'participation'. In recent times we have been increasingly using the term "stakeholder" - ie a person or persons who has a 'stake" or a "vested interest" in the outcomes of an issue being discussed. Understanding and identifying our stakeholders in any given issue is an important task and we will return to this topic later. However, let us, for the purposes of this workshop, agree that the 'public' is in fact everyone who may be affected by the outcomes of our decision-making. Therefore, our aim is to successfully identify the 'public' and then find ways that we can 'facilitate' their involvement. 'Public Participation' can be called many things : 'Community Involvement', 'Public Consultation', 'research', 'public relations'. All of these terms may relate to the involvement of people in the decision-making processes, and they imply different levels of public involvement in the processes of "Governance". Osborne and Gaebler (1993) in their book Reinventing Government give the following useful definition of Governance:

    Governance is the process by which we collectively solve problems and meet our societys needs - Government is the instrument that we use.

    Other definitions of Public Participation could include:

  • Advanced Training Course on Moderation/Facilitation Skills 3-7 December 2002, Kathmandu, Nepal

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    Public Participation simply means the way that people take part in public life, even if their roles are relatively passive or seemingly powerless,

    Public Participation is a way in which communities can participate and become involved.... using different methods and processes and in varying degrees. By taking the appropriate action, Local Government can help them to do this.

    Public participation can range from minor and infrequent comment to active and powerful influence.

    In many of our systems of Local Government the following model may be seen to explain a system of 'representation'. In the past, some people have seen this model as the only way in which to conceive Local Government. Some people also believed that to give members of the public a more active role in Local Government other than that of a voter, was to undermine the role of the elected representatives to exercise public judgement and also to undermine their authority to instruct and supervise the staff. What such a strict model fails to recognise is, that in the real world, there is far more interaction and that the day-to- day business of Local Government would not function effectively if we only relied on 'representative' government. What we have come to learn in more recent times is than 'participative ' government is not an alternative to representative government - it is a valuable and vital supplement to it.

    The Citizens

    elected representatives...who collectively form....

    The Local Authority (e.g. Council or Committee)... which sets policy and determines courses of action

    who...as voters, choose...

    ...and employs staff to plan, manage and deliver appropriate

    programs and services to....

  • Advanced Training Course on Moderation/Facilitation Skills 3-7 December 2002, Kathmandu, Nepal

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    Why have Public Participation? Although it has become commonplace for all sorts of government and non-government agencies to talk constantly about the need for more public participation, it is still worth us reflecting for a moment and reminding ourselves WHY have more public participation in Local Government? Public participation in Local Government can be viewed as both a MEANS and an END i.e. as both a way of carrying out Local Government and also as a goal to be achieved in itself. However, these two perspectives are not mutually exclusive. When viewed as a MEANS, public participation: Utilises the widest range of collective expertise and experience when

    dealing with an issue Means that the local authority shares the processes of making

    judgements in sometimes difficult situations and hence means that the community has to also share some of the responsibility for such decisions.

    Means that community and stakeholder opinions are known up-front and do not appear as a surprise at a later date.

    Allows the development of all sorts of useful relationships and partnerships.

    Can help change and shift community attitudes. Can help people understand the bigger picture Increases the accountability and transparency of Local Government

    decision-making Is an educational and learning process for all the stakeholders and the

    local authority itself Brings together a variety of different (and sometimes conflicting)

    viewpoints and can assist people to understand and empathize with others.

    As an END, public participation: Is a fundamental aspect of democratic good governance Validates the local authority as a legitimate forum for local decision

    making Can be the glue that bonds a community together. Is (in many situations) a critical indicator of program effectiveness. May often improve the quality of public debate May help enhance the quality of elected representative performance. Is a key to the real empowerment of citizens and communities.

  • Advanced Training Course on Moderation/Facilitation Skills 3-7 December 2002, Kathmandu, Nepal

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    All of these aspects are important, and as was mentioned earlier, in some cases the pursuit of these objectives will often mean that public participation is seen as both a MEANS and an END. However, achieving effective public participation in all cases is not so simple there are definitely some drawbacks and the real potential for problems and difficulties.

  • Advanced Training Course on Moderation/Facilitation Skills 3-7 December 2002, Kathmandu, Nepal

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    EXERCISE: List down some of the drawbacks and/or difficulties that may arise because of the use of public participation. ______________________________________________________________________________

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    It is important to recognise these difficulties and to be honest about them. Quite frankly, sometimes it would be easier not to have so much public participation!