Some Thoughts about Stakeholders
Stakeholders come in form of government agencies, beneficiaries, donors and funders, competing agencies, people of goodwill and also people of bad will among others. The level of involvement in all these stakeholders is always different as i learnt while managing the community development projects.
The community (read beneficially) mostly wants their problems solved but the first step of their involvement is actually finding out the problem from them. A lot of times, good projects are politicized and rejected by beneficiaries because of the mere fact that the community was never involved from conception.
Driving with a landcruiser to the meeting to introduce the contractor while you never met the ground team earlier is always a recipe for disaster. These stakeholder seems harmless but i assure you they can take you back to the drawing board faster than you think.
Failure to involve government stakeholders especially in community projects by NGOs is also a call for disaster. Having the money and involving the beneficiary is one thing but always remember there is the government of the day. Case and point, there are very many failing and dead hand pumps in Kenya and Togo, why? mostly because the NGO that did the project did not have a good post monitoring program and/or did not hand over the project to the relevant ministry for future maintenance and monitoring. A case of take the photo launching and water flowing and assume you have solved the problem.
Entities of goodwill are always for the project. They should always be involved as they are the ambassadors. Unfortunately they are always not so many.
Entities of bad will. These are the ones that you should clearly be aware of, how they affect or are affected by your project. Projects always have outcomes and impacts and they don't always resonate well with everyone at communal, governmental among other levels.
It is therefore necessary for all development practitioners to note that stakeholder involvement is crucial at all times and at the relevant levels. Most technical people are good at the office only to be let down by the actual situation on the ground. Learn the interests of people, involve them accordingly and in a relevant manner and let them work for the betterment of the project rather than against it.
My article is not conclusive, feel free to add something I have left out osrchat me at email@example.com
In 2013 when i ventured into the irrigation business, I had minimal knowledge and understanding of stakeholders, my main interest was customers. I was encouraged by the happy customers that continuously referred their friends to our company for drip kits. I and my partner had started this out of frustrations due to lack of a formal job despite having engineering degree. As time went on, i realized that there was an emerging trend whereby my relation with my past clients was the key to getting new business and bingo! I started seeing them differently as stakeholders whose views needed to be clearly heard.
In 2014 when i was in charge of managing community development projects in Limuru CDF , i still realized there was more to stakeholders than i thought. No matter how good a project is without stakeholder participation, it still fails.