The Global Participatory Action Research (GLOPAR} Project was conceived by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) in 1993 as part of a long term effort to mobilize groups and individuals around the world to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
The aims of the project are to:
* empower national groups;
* stimulate national and regional networking;
* identify key obstacles to breastfeeding;
* help programme planners, policy makers and NGOs to effectively target strategies that can improve breastfeeding;
* develop national baseline reference materials and international materials that measure implementation of the goals of the Innocent Declaration (1990} and other international policy guidelines.
The philosophy underlying this project is encapsulated in the title.
Global: The project aims, over time, to look at the situation of breastfeeding in all countries, while recognising that it is not possible to do everything at once. Although global in scope, the foundation for the work is the national level analysis. The global picture builds from national findings.
Participatory: The project seeks to involve local groups and individuals, particularly those who are most involved in breastfeeding protection, promotion and support, in assessing the impact of policies and practices, and in suggesting future directions. It also aims to be participatory by encouraging the use of networking skills, investigative techniques and monitoring methods that are directly relevant to the investigators.
Action: The project aims to stimulate action, not simply to collect information. Having more information is not helpful unless there are suggestions about how to translate the information into tools for change, how to improve the situation.
Research: The project aims to stimulate research, or as the title of the project guidebook (Investigating breastfeeding} suggests, to investigate, to ask questions, to find out why breastfeeding does or does not occur. The investigation is participatory done by local people, not external researchers - and should lead to useful analysis to stimulate action for change.
Project: It is a project - an experiment - to see if it is possible to use these investigation methods to mobilise larger networks of groups and individuals and to see if, in the words of the guidebook, "simply asking a few questions" will upstart a process of change for the better".
Groups from eight countries have reported in the first phase; groups from a further 25-30 countries are expected to prepare a preliminary analysis of the situation of breastfeeding in their country during the second phase.