In a participatory project geared towards community action, it follows that the community must be involved in selecting indicators of achievement, and in collecting and gathering evidence. This works well in some disaster contexts, for instance in food security and famine early warning, where a number of NGOs have established viable community-based warning systems to alert agencies to deteriorating food and livelihood security, and to generate appropriate responses. Sales of animals, sightings of certain insects and birds and failure to carry out funeral ceremonies are among the indicators identified and applied by local people in such initiatives. Nevertheless, it should be borne in mind that the needs of communities in this regard may differ from those of outside agencies – especially their senior management – and of donors, who expect more conventional indicators of success, often emphasising the quantitative at the expense of the qualitative (see Chapter 18 for further discussion of monitoring and evaluation). It is also useful to review the participatory process itself: who participated, how they participated and the outcomes in terms of community empowerment. Box 6.2 (How did people participate? A checklist of questions) suggests ways of thinking about this.
Box 6.2 How did people participate? A checklist of questions
- How were people involved? List the techniques you used: assemblies, focus groups, meetings with partners, participation in decision-making, etc.
- Did you work directly with members of the population or in collaboration with another institution (NGO, CBO, etc.)?
- Did people engage actively in the process? In what ways? If not, why not?
- Did men and women participate in the same way? Were women and men equally able to actively engage in the process?
- Were people from marginalised groups within the community actively engaged in the process?
- How effectively was information transmitted? Did people understand the messages you shared with them, in particular concerning your organisation, the different stages of the project, potential constraints, etc.?
- How effective was the consultation? Did people succeed in transmitting their ideas to you? Did they feel consulted and that their contributions were taken into consideration? How do you know? Ask them if they feel that they were consulted or involved in decision-making. If participants made requests or demands that couldn’t be accommodated, did they understand why?
- What was the impact of participants’ contributions in decision-making and in the project?
- What was the impact of participation on the quality of the relationship between the aid organisation and the population and other stakeholders? Was mutual respect and trust established?
- Were participants, other stakeholders or other members of the population exposed to risks as part of the participation process? If so, what did you do about it?
Groupe URD, Participation Handbook for Humanitarian Field Workers, 2009, http://www.alnap.org/resource/8531, p. 30.
Box 6.3 Features of successful CBDRM
Extensive research carried out for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in 2010–11 with communities in four countries affected by the 2004 Asian tsunami identified nine key determinants of a successful community-based DRR programme:
- The motivation and capacity of the community and community leaders.
- The motivation and capacity of the Red Cross/Red Crescent stakeholders and the strength of partnerships between them.
- The capacity of external actors (government, NGOs, private sector) and the strength of partnerships with them.
- The level of community participation and ownership of the CBDRM programme.
- The level of integration of CBDRM programmes with other sectors.
- Having an appropriate balance between standardisation and flexibility in programme design.
- Having sufficient time to implement CBDRM programmes.
- Having sufficient funding to implement CBDRM programmes.
- Having adequate assessment, monitoring and evaluation procedures.
Arup International Development, Key Determinants of a Successful CBDRR Programme (Geneva: IFRC, 2011), http://www.ifrc.org/docs/Evaluations/Evaluations%202012/Global/GlobalKey_Determinants_12.pdf.