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Children as agents of change

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Dissertation by Katie Fernandez submitted as part of the MSc Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London. (September 2008)

Children as agents of change: practitioners’ perspectives on children’s participation in Community-Led Total Sanitation

Children’s participation in development projects has only recently become a priority for donors and development agencies. “New” social studies of childhood have also recently arisen, understanding children as competent social actors, and childhood as a social construct. Locating the similarities between this new sociology and actor-oriented approaches to development allows us to analyse the limitations and potentialities of children’s agency, through their participation in development projects. Consideration of practitioners’ experiences and perceptions of children’s participation in Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) enables us to draw out themes to highlight some problematic areas of framing children, and some potentialities for real transformation. Children’s participation should not be seen as a panacea, and the limiting effects of both global and local discourses should not be denied, but at the same time the possibilities of children’s agency at the grassroots should not be overlooked.

Date: 30 January 2009