Module M04 - Community Groundwork and Processes

Unit M04U03: Power and Power Relations as a Prerequisite to Participation


The aim of this Unit is to increase trainees’ awareness about power and power relations as an important factor for participation. It provides a background and description of power and the uses of power as a negative and positive force. The Unit provides the trainees with arguments upon which to reflect on their own power and how best to facilitate power analysis as a means to create opportunities for empowerment and participation by the different groups that may be engaged in a participatory mapping process.

The Unit also assists communities in “mapping” intra-community power relations, identifying ways of working with or around existing structures and facilitating genuinely participatory and inclusive processes. Trainees will be able to present their role and interest in this process, ensure transparency and trust and facilitate participatory mapping while taking into consideration power and power relations in the community.

In power relations, stakeholder analysis is of particular relevance. In any given community, there are many stakeholders with diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, interests and abilities to influence the process and decisions. The nature and level of engagement by these stakeholders in the participatory mapping process will always be determined by how they perceive the process. If they perceive it as threatening their interests (e.g. access or user rights to forest products, water or land), they are likely to oppose or sabotage it and if they see it as serving their interests, they will support it.

Unit objectives / expected outcomes

After the completion of the Unit the trainee will be able to:

  • discuss the complexities of power;
  • describe expressions of power;
  • facilitate empowerment;
  • discuss the uses of stakeholder power analysis;
  • guide a stakeholder power analysis through a step-wise approach.

Content outline, main topics covered and suggested sequencing

This Unit focuses on the topics listed below:

  1. Feeling Power and Identifying Its Sources (Exercise No. 1) (90 min)
  2. Power, Empowerment and Participation (Handout4T No.1 & PPT No. 1) (45 min)
  3. Stakeholder Power Analysis (Exercise No. 2) (120 min)
  4. Stakeholder Power Analysis (Handout4T No. 2 & PPT No. 2) (45 min)

Components of the Unit


Handouts for Trainee (to be distributed in printed format):

Handouts for Trainee (to be distributed in digital format)



5 hours

Additional trainer resources

  • VeneKlasen, Lisa with Miller, Valarie, A New Weave of Power: Action Guide for Advocacy and Citizen Participation, Practical Action Publishing, 2002, Pages 39–59;
  • Mayers, James, Stakeholder Power Analysis 03/09/2009
  • Barrow, Edmund, Jeanette Clarke, Isla Grundy, Kamugisha-Ruhombe Jones and Yemeserach Tessema, Forest and Social Perspectives in Conservation No. 9: Analysis of Stakeholder Power and Responsibilities in Community Involvement in Forest Management in Eastern and Southern Africa, IUCN World Conservation Union East Africa Programme, 2002.

Equipment needed

Metaplan cards, soft boards, pins, felt pens, newsprint, masking tape

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