[ Index ]
Assessing the added value of the LEADER approach
Questions and evaluation issues for each specific feature
3.2. The bottom-up approach
The bottom-up approach aims to encourage participatory decision-
making at the local level for all those concerned with development
policies. The involvement of local players is sought and includes
the population at large, economic and social interest groups, and
representative public and private institutions.
Capacity building is a strategic component of the bottom-up
- awareness raising, training, participation and mobilisation of
the local population to identify the strengths and weakness of the
- the participation of different interest groups in the
strategic choices of the rural innovation programme,
- transparent criteria for selecting the actions implemented.
Participation may take place at different stages of the programme
(prior to the plan, during implementation, after its conclusions);
it can be assured through direct participation or through the medium
of representatives of collective interests.
To be effective, the bottom-up approach must be applied to a
relatively small area, in which the inhabitants know each other, can
meet easily and have the occasion to take part in decision-making.
The bottom-up approach is therefore interrelated with the area-based
3.2.2 Motivation and expected results
The bottom-up approach is an alternative to the traditional forms of
policy making, which is more often than not top-down. It is a method
for identifying desirable policy measures through the consultation
of relevant interest groups at the local level.
If it is assumed that rural areas have a different set of resources
and have different problems to resolve; measures adapted to each
case are required. Centralised decision-making becomes inappropriate
or insufficient as it cannot be adapted to take into account the
particularities of each area. Local participatory decision-making
becomes therefore a strategic tool for acknowledging the different
policy needs of rural areas. If this approach enables new ideas to
be revealed then it should be applied at the analysis stage when the
rural innovation programme is being designed.
A second assumption is that participatory decision-making can
ensure, insofar as it functions efficiently, a wide and fair
representation of all groups of interest, thus creating an occasion
for building up a consensus, dealing with conflicts and fostering
interrelationships between sectors and groups.
Adopting the bottom up approach implies empowerment at the local
level in relation to the other levels of governance. It can bring
about an increased effectiveness and flexibility in rural
development, decentralisation and a higher degree of consensus at
the local level.
3.2.3 Main questions
a) the initial situation:
- Explain whether participatory decision-making has been used,
how it was implemented, the role of animation activities and who was
involved, and the presence or absence of previous experience.
- If no form of animation or participatory decision-making has
been used explain why and how this influenced the plan and its
results; in this case, please ignore the questions that follow.
b) the processes
- Who took part in the democratic consultation process to build
the initial consensus for the rural innovation programme and how?
Who was excluded and why? (Actions involving animation, awareness
raising and mobilisation of the population, formal consultation of
representatives of social organisations and economic interests).
- Who participated in and who was excluded from the decision-
making process? How? Why? (Consider the influence of public and
private interests, particular sectors and groups, independently of
their membership in the local group).
- Has the bottom-up approach been used consistently throughout
the programme? (in the preliminary phase, in the identification of
strategies and actions, and in the implementation).
- How were participation and animation activities organised?
(Role of 'animators' (facilitators) and external experts, and
c) the results and impact
- In what way has the bottom-up approach influenced:
- the perception of local problems and local needs,
- the choice of new objectives, strategies and actions,
- wider representation of local players in policymaking?
- In what way has the bottom-up approach practically contributed
to the development of the area? (Impact)
- Has the level of decision-making been strengthened in relation
to other levels? Has participation encouraged:
- the development of a consensus for local action,
- the establishment of negotiating practices,
- economic and social cooperation,
- an enhanced capacity to integrate the local population in the
new forms of organisation within the area?
- What additional contribution has the bottom-up approach made
in relation to the top-down approach? Has it been extended to
programmes other than LEADER? To other areas? (demonstration effect)
d) the lessons
- What lessons should be retained to consolidate the approach?
Are there any negative or undesirable effects? How could the
approach be improved? Which models of good practice should be