This paper aims to contribute to the growing body of literature on evaluation of community participation in the water and sanitation sector. The first part discusses the conceptual underpinnings of participatory approaches. The paper then analyses stakeholder perceptions about the Household-centred Environmental Sanitation (HCES) approach, a participatory planning approach recently validated in two countries: Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR) and Nepal. Post intervention surveys were conducted with experts and key informants in both countries to assess satisfaction regarding degree of participation, effectiveness of planning outcomes and process efficiency of the participatory planning process. It specifically looks at the variability in people's perceptions about the costs and benefits of community participation. Empirical findings show that experts and participants show high satisfaction rates regarding involvement in decision making. The earlier and stronger residents were involved in the process, the higher the satisfaction rate. In a second part, the main findings of expert interviews are contrasted with the perceptions of the community at large which participated in the participatory planning process. A better understanding of community participation in urban settings is needed regarding skills, motivation, time, and defining the right levels of participation.

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