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Timeline Events / Participatory Approaches to Technology Development

Some of the earliest work on participatory approaches occurred in Bangladesh in an effort to learn from local development initiatives, according to Stephen Biggs, who worked for the Ford Foundation in Bangladesh.  Biggs described collaborative efforts by the Ministry of Rural Development, Chittagong and other universities, the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), the Association of Agricultural Voluntary Agencies, and others to survey and learn from unplanned local development efforts. 

In Bangladesh during the early to mid-1970s, “soon after independence, many academics, bureaucrats, staff of aid agencies, and NGOs realised that there was a great number of (mostly unplanned) development initiatives taking place in the country about which little was known and from which they thought development lessons could be learned. The Ministry of Rural Development arranged for ad hoc teams from a range of universities and research institutes to go out, document, and understand what was happening. These teams produced ‘quick reports’, ‘rushed reports’, and ‘Locally Sponsored Development Programme Series’ reports, which were then reproduced and circulated by the Ministry and the research institutions involved.” (Biggs 2008: 491) 

Biggs recalls that “some of this research entailed interaction with the University of Sussex, a process which included critical analysis at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), as illustrated by the article entitled ‘The exploitation of indigenous technical knowledge or the indigenous exploitation of knowledge: whose use of what for what?’ (Bell 1979) and work at IDS (Chambers and Howes 1979).” [LINK] (Biggs 2008: 491) This was also reported on by Brammer (1980).



Biggs, S. (2008) ‘The lost 1990s?  Personal reflections on a history of participatory technology development’, Development in Practice 18.4-5: 489-505

Brammer, H.  (1980) ‘Some innovations do not wait for experts: a report on applied research by Bangladesh peasants’ Ceres 13.2

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