How Crazy Can it Be? An Assessment, Three Years Later, of Outcomes from a Participatory Project with Children in Johannesburg

This paper provides a follow-up, three years later, to a promising initiative by the city of Johannesburg. In 2000, the local authority invited children in four low-income neighborhoods to identify local concerns and to make recommendations, as a contribution to the city’s planning process. The follow-up investigation examined how the city had used the children’s neighborhood assessments and found that there had been no response at all. Drawing on interviews with all key players, the paper presents an account of what happened and what went wrong. It discusses the challenges inherent in participatory efforts of this kind, and makes recommendations for future initiatives, both for local authorities and for organizations supporting children’s active involvement in local planning.

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