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Participation

Three questions to ask before organising a capacity building workshop

In my opinion, capacity building workshops are one of the most overused activities in international development / aid programs today. Normally involving the words “strengthening”, “sustainable” or “empowerment”, these events have the potential to waste large amounts of money and achieve relatively little. That’s not to say workshops are completely useless, ... Read More »

Should I use interviews or focus groups?

Deciding whether to use interviews or focus groups for collecting qualitative data is an age old question that plagues every international development / aid worker at some point in their career. Some experts think interviews are better, some think focus groups are better, while others say it depends on the situation. ... Read More »

Simple, quick and easy – Tiny Tools for impact assessment

Download Tiny Tools Many international development / aid programs try to directly improve people’s lives through activities such as building boreholes, running agricultural training programs, or setting up youth programs. When evaluating these types of programs it can be difficult to know if community members really believe that their situation ... Read More »

How to do great semi-structured interviews

Semi-structured interviews are a staple of international development programs. Unfortunately they are often done in a rush without proper planning and analysis. The result can be a pile of interview notes that don’t contain the information you need, or simply repeat the same points over and over without adding anything ... Read More »

The Batteries Methodology for measuring quality of life

Improving people’s quality of life is the ultimate goal for many international development programs, even though it might not be stated as such. Having a high quality of life just means having a full and happy life. For example, programs to increase people’s income or health only do this so those ... Read More »

Using the ‘Most Significant Change’ (MSC) Technique to measure the intangible

In development, it is essential to measure if programs are having the desired impact. However, intangible goals such as ’empowerment’, ‘leadership skills’ and ‘confidence’ are difficult to measure with normal quantitative monitoring tools. This is particularly true in social change programs where improvements in attitudes, behaviour and beliefs take place ... Read More »

Doing Focus Groups – Book Review

I was recently involved in a frustrating debate with a World Bank development economist where qualitative research was dismissed as ‘not reliable and anecdotal’. Thankfully, this view now appears to be in the minority, as international NGOs and UN agencies are increasingly recognising and utilising qualitative research methods such as ... Read More »

Participatory Workshops – Book Review

As a follow-up to our previous book review of the Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making, I decided to review a facilitation book that was written specifically for an international development audience. Participatory Workshops: A Sourcebook of 21 Sets of Ideas & Activities, by Robert Chambers, is a collection of workshop activities ... Read More »

Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making – Book Review

Everyone likes to have a “participatory” project. Donors like it because it makes them sound like they’re supporting locally led development; international NGOs like it because it makes them feel better about being outsiders; and local NGOs like it because the more participatory a project is the more donors want ... Read More »

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