Contrasting two successful forestry projects in Benin, this paper examined different approaches to achieving effective participation by local people. A GTZ-funded forest rehabilitation programme followed a strategy of 'working with people', creating joint activities and paid labour, while a large multilateral project, PGRN, took the approach of 'talking with people', fostering political involvement. The author argued that certain crucial factors - common interest between project staff and target groups, a clear project strategy and commitment to a long process of communication and institution building - distinguished projects in which participation was merely functional from those in which local people had a full political role in decision-making.
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