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Reality Checks: first reflections (PLA 57)

The articles in this final section of PLA 57 looks at some of the ways in which immersions are starting to influence policy and institutional direction. The most significant example is from Sida (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency). Sida is trying to keep a balance between high-level dialogue with its development partners (Southern governments) and perspectives gathered ‘from below’. The challenge for Sida is now less about helping colleagues appreciate their importance and more about supporting their implementation. The Sida team in Bangladesh is carrying out a five-year process of structured dialogue with poor people to help inform and subsequently monitor its country strategy. This article by Dee Jupp et al. describes the last of these in greater depth.

In this second article, Dee Jupp et al. describe how Sida team in Bangladesh is carrying out a five-year study to track the progress of two Sida-supported programmes in primary healthcare and primary education. Their 'Reality Checks' combine immersions and conventional participatory approaches, and involve visiting the same host families and communities each year, at the same time of year, to see first hand how policies are playing out at local level. Although in its early stages, the approach is already providing many new insights with important policy implications.

Participatory Learning and Action (PLA, formerly PLA Notes) is the world's leading series on participatory learning and action approaches and methods. PLA publishes articles on participation aimed at practitioners, researchers, academics and activists. All articles are peer-reviewed by an international editorial board.

Guest editors: Izzy Birch, Raffaella Catani with Robert Chambers.

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