PLA 62 - Wagging the dragon's tail: emerging practices in participatory poverty reduction in China

This special issue of Participatory Learning and Action reflects on the journey towards participatory approaches to poverty reduction in China, focusing on transformations at the interface between the government and rural communities. 

Article, 31 July 2011
Participatory Learning and Action
A journal for newcomers and experienced practitioners alike.

August 2011

Guest editors: Johanna Pennarz, Song Haokun, Deng Weijie, Jianping Wang

The articles show how development and poverty approaches continue to evolve in the specific Chinese political context and its ongoing governance changes, and in line with China’s unique ability to experiment with and pilot new approaches, pragmatically using international experience.

The discussion is relevant and important for the global audience that is trying to understand China’s unique approach to development and its implication for global poverty reduction. It is also relevant to understand how and under what conditions participatory approaches become embedded in specific contexts.

This issue draws on case studies from internationally funded projects, including the Poor Rural Communities Development Project (PRCDP). It also includes other articles on participation in China, as well as relevant resources and tips for trainers.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. Content can be freely reproduced for non-commercial purposes, provided the source is fully acknowledged. 

Follow the links below to download the whole issue or individual articles in pdf format.

Download the complete issue.

Also available in Chinese (traditional and modern)


Nicole Kenton

Alan Piazza

Overview: Changing government-community interface in China
Johanna Pennarz, Arjan de Haan  

Prologue: Reflections on participation in Southwest China in the early 2000s
Andreas Wilkes

Part I: Communities taking charge in China

Johanna Pennarz

How community farmers participated in project planning and implementation

How an ordinary farmer was elected as project leader
Qin Guozheng 

How farmers claimed their rights to supervise projects
Song Haokun 

Part II: Changing roles and relationships in China - the facilitator  

Johanna Pennarz 

Reflections from the Sanjiang Workshop
Johanna Pennarz

Facilitating community-level processes
Qin Cheng

The role of village facilitators
Qin Guozheng

The role of the township facilitator
Meng Shunhui 

Adapting to the local context: lessons learnt from external facilitation
Wang Jianping 

Part III: Management practices in China - towards fairer and more transparent resource allocation

Johanna Pennarz 

From participation inside villages to competitive selection amongst villages
Yang Gang 

Participatory planning and poverty analysis in Guangxi
Qin Zhurong

Different ways for implementation in different communities
Chen Chunyun

Part IV: The China Watershed Management Project - a participatory approach to watershed management

Nicole Kenton

Background and approach
Wang Yue

Innovative, community-led practices
Wang Baojun 

The perspective of the Ministry of Water Resources
Wang Yue

Challenges and lessons learnt
Liu Yonggong

Part V: Experiences by professionals – participatory approaches in health and education in China

Lu Caizhen and Johanna Pennarz 

Improving the health of rural women through participation
Yu Denghai

Applying participatory teaching in big classes – experiences of a primary school teacher
Li Jianru 

Participation based on empowerment: the Chengdu Gay Care Organisation
Wang Jun, Wang Xiaodong, Yang Dou, Yu Fei, Lin Shu, Lin Xiaojie, Wen Yi, Yang Yu 

Part VI: Scaling up – ways of institutionalising participation in China

Johanna Pennarz

Exploring community-driven development in Chinese poverty reduction
Li Hui

A participatory learning system in Guangxi
Huang Canbin, Zhou Qing

Adapting participatory methods to the government system: the Wenchuan Earthquake Rehabilitation Project 
Deng Weijie

EIAs go public: creating new spaces for participation 
Lila Buckley

Part VII: Conclusions - Changing spaces at the interface of government and citizens
Johanna Pennarz  

PART VIII: Tips for Trainers

Why participatory research and how participatory?
Maruja Salas

Learning is more than training – experiences from PRCDP
Johanna Pennarz

Training in the Chinese context: tips and resources for trainers
Wang Jianping, Deng Weijie, Sun Dajiang and Johanna Pennarz


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