Local Democracy Talk: “The future we imagine” – making change happen with CBPR  

“Local governments must invest in research to access community data”.

An ICLD Local Democracy Talk was hosted by H.E. Charlotta Ozaki Macias, Ambassador of Sweden to Tanzania, in her residence in Dar es Salaam the 17th of November 2022. In her welcoming remarks, the Ambassador noted the importance of uplifting grassroot voices through all levels of government, especially the local one. A panel of academics, local government and civil society then reflected on how to reach impact using community-based participatory research (CBPR) – and why local democracy needs it. In this article, let us present some of the panelists’ thought-provoking statements.

Ambassador Charlotta Ozaki Macias with Julius Daniel, PhD candidate at the Institute of Development Studies. Photo: Ida Edvinsson

– Smart development scholars produce great research published in high-ranking journals, that students in Sweden can download in a second, remarked Mwemezi Rwiza, UNESCO K4C Hub Arusha. But persons living right outside the university walls – the ones the research really concerns – have no idea what was asked and what was found. Participatory research approaches can tear down those walls.

Dr. Judy Makira, project manager in Muranga Municipality, agreed fully on the positive aspect of community-based participatory research:

– CBPR is action-oriented by nature, so whatever we put on the table through such research is applicable in practice. To me, community-based participatory research is a bridge between policies and realities on the ground.

Kenedy Afisa, youth representative from Restless Development, brought forward youth clubs on the school level as an under-utilized channel for community dialogue. Meanwhile, Lusungu Kayani, PhD candidate at University of Victoria, made the connection between the Sustainable Development Goals and CBPR clear:

– One of the key principles of Agenda 2030 is “leave no one behind”. It provides us with a comprehensive, interdisciplinary framework, designed to be inclusive and multisectoral. But those of us working in policy and research know that it’s been hard to access vulnerable groups. We have to think harder and better about how to identify marginalized individuals to really understand what their needs are, and how to address them in a way that really involves them. It can’t just be government and civil society – there needs to be a partnership, and at the core of that partnership should be the communities we work with.

– We see how diverse community problems are, says Mwemezi Rwiza. We have looked at waste management from an engineering point of view, but here is a way to view it from the social perspective.

Partnerships between academia, communities and policymakers are crucial to make democratic policies that meet community needs, but the audience were also reminded not to forget the private sector:

– There are tons of creative ways for businesses to support, fund and facilitate community-driven action research, and we need to include them in the discussion.

This multisectoral approach remained central in the panelists’ view of how to generate impact. The discussion concluded with a clear call to action by Dr. Judy Makira:

– I urge organisations to fund and facilitate research that is grounded at the municipality or country levels.


  • Lusungu Kayani, PhD Candidate University of Victoria
  • Mwemezi Rwiza, Director of the UNESCO K4C hub in Arusha
  • Kennedy Afisa, Worldshare Tanzania (Youth representative Restless Development)
  • Dr. Judy Makira, Coordinator Muranga Municipality

Moderator: Dr. Crystal Tremblay, University of Victoria

More about ICLD Local Democracy Talks