Participation and sustainability in social projects: The experience of the Local Development Programme (PRODEL) in Nicaragua
This paper describes the work of the Local Development Programme (PRODEL) in the eight cities in Nicaragua where it provided low-income groups with small grants for infrastructure and community works projects, and loans for housing improvement and micro-enterprises. Donor funds were matched by municipal, community, and household contributions. Between 1994 and 1998 more than 38,000 households benefited and both loan programmes achieved good levels of cost recovery. The paper describes the micro-planning workshops and other methodologies, and explains how local governments and the bank responsible for managing the loans learned to work in a more participatory way, and it outlines the measures taken to ensure that the needs and priorities of women and children were addressed. The paper considers lessons learned in sustaining the initiatives and institutionalising citizen participation in social programmes, and describes how PRODEL’s methods have come to be used by central and local governments in other programmes.