Funded by the Governance and Civil Society Program, Ford Foundation (usa) 1Table of Contents



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Assessing and Learning

for Social Change:

A Discussion Paper

Irene Guijt

July 2007






Prepared for the Power, Participation and Change Group

Institute of Development Studies (UK)

Funded by the Governance and Civil Society Program, Ford Foundation (USA)

1Table of Contents




Irene Guijt i

July 2007 i

Funded by the Governance and Civil Society Program, Ford Foundation (USA) ii

1 Table of Contents iii

Preface viii

Preface viii

Abbreviations x

Executive Summary xi

Executive Summary xi

Introduction 1

Introduction 1

1 Social Change and the Implications for Assessment and Learning 4

Understanding Social Change 4

Forms of power 6

Mechanisms through which exclusion and privilege occurs 6

Examples of efforts to overcome mechanisms of exclusion by people’s organisations and intermediaries (see Box 3 for sources) 6

Making and enforcing rules, structures and policies that serve certain people over others, decision-making processes in which certain groups are excluded 6

Sauti ya Wanawake, Kenya: 6

Lobbying parliamentarians to ensure passing of the Sexual Offences Bill 6

Producing databases of violence cases and using these to open community discussions and action 6

SPARC, India and the Alliance: 6

precedent setting of alternative housing construction models based on women’s needs 6

collaboration between Indian Railways, Govt. of Maharashtra and the Alliance for voluntary relocations 6

publishing community-led surveys of slum dwellers 6

Kasighau Small-scale Miners: 6

First time participation with stalls at Annual Agricultural show with stalls to display precious stones and open up discussion on lucrative local industry shrouded in secrecy that was only benefiting the rich 6

helped form and joined a district-wide Small-Scale Miners Cooperative Society 6

participate in national conference to discuss a new mining act that would consider interests of small-scale miners and local communities 6

Setting the agenda and being heard, with the explicit inclusion or exclusion of certain groups and voices 6

Sauti ya Wanawake, Kenya: 6

creating strategic networks and linkages with organisations and partners to provide women with technical support in various fields 6

SPARC, India and the Alliance: 6

organising women pavement dwellers into savings and credit groups that created social linkages and sharing opportunities 6

undertaken surveys to make visible those with no formal residence and therefore without a formal identity 6

Shaping meaning, sense of self and what is normal 7

Sauti ya Wanawake, Kenya: 7

trainings for women on their rights, children’s rights, paralegalism, counselling, and transformatory leadership 7

meetings with women who shared personal stories of challenges and transformation 7

educating wider community, especially community structures (local chief, village elders) and institutions (religious institutions, police) 7

campaign on violence against girls is being carried out in schools 7

SPARC, India and the Alliance: 7

Kasighau Small-scale Miners: 7

Undertaking participatory action research on core issues and effectiveness of strategies to deal with small-miners’ rights 7

Implications for Assessment and Learning 9

Understanding the Challenge 9

Features of Social Change that Affect Assessment and Learning 11

Creating a Basis for Rethinking Assessment and Learning 13

Frameworks, Concepts and Methods: Towards a Purpose-built Assessment Process 16

Frameworks, Concepts and Methods: Towards a Purpose-built Assessment Process 16

The Emergence of Alternative M&E Practice 16

The Potential of Methods and Key Considerations 17

Methodological Building Blocks 17

Rethinking the Idea of ‘Method’ 21

Making the Most of a ‘Theory of Change’ 23

Staying Mindful of Core Principles 25

Examples from Practice 27

The Merits of a Framework – Mama Cash 27

ActionAid International’s Global Framework 28

Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres, India 29

Centro de Tecnologias Alternativas – Zona da Mata, Brazil 31

Relationships Matter and Relationships that Matter 33

Relationships Matter and Relationships that Matter 33

Seeing the Web of Relationships 33

Dealing with Donors 34

Maintaining Integrity as an Intermediary 38

Core elements 39

Specific competencies and qualities 39

Communication skills/qualities 39

Patience 39

Diplomacy 39

Persistence (to build ongoing dialogue) 39

Listening and probing 39

Respect 39

Openness 39

Facilitation skills that make it possible to approach assessment as an action learning process 39

Mobilization skills 39

Principles 39

Recognising non-neutrality of any facilitation/assessment input and approach, and therefore articulating own biases/agendas/assumptions 39

Focusing on developing inquisitive, deductive thinking (rather than a specific procedure or model or method) 39

Honesty 39

Trying to continually see how assessment can add value locally 39

Inclusiveness 39

Knowledge / competence 40

Understanding critical concepts: social change, gender dynamics, invisible power 40

Understanding dominant debates and their limitations – positivism, results-based management, efficiency focus 40

Being able to convey the value of reflection, as much more than navel-gazing 40

Crosscheck data to incorporate different voices 40

Skill at packaging the work within the required formats of donors 40

Strong theoretical understanding that can build evaluative capacity 40

Attitude 40

A critical questioning attitude rather than an advisory stance 40

Being a facilitator rather than a solution provider or implementer 40

Being a dialogue mediator 40

Having a win-win frame of mind, such as seeing how to use donor framework to further the social change work rather than as a necessary evil 40

Humility 40

Being keen on constituency building 40

Keen to seek the unfamiliar or ‘taboo’ insights – get off the beaten track… 40

Organisational level 40

Well-defined principles and attitudes 40

Leadership 40

Identifying where cohesion/convergence is lacking 40

Nurturing trustful relationships 40

Creating and supporting dialogic open spaces to challenge individual and group assumptions about how social change happens 40

Continually re-examine an organisation’s role in the social change process in line with changes in the context 40

Issues of Scale in Assessment and Learning 41

Issues of Scale in Assessment and Learning 41

Two Directions of ‘Scale’ to Bear in Mind – Scales 41

Risks Both Ways … and the Intermediary in the Middle 43

Considerations for Assessment and Learning 44

An Agenda for Action 48

An Agenda for Action 48

Donors with Different Principles 48

Intermediaries as Innovators, Challengers and Bridgers 50

Opportunities for Facilitators and Evaluators 51

Assessment and Learning that Values the ‘Golden Goose’ 52

Annex 1. ASC Participants (in alphabetical order) 54

Name 54

Organisational Affiliation 54

Link to the ASC initiative 54

Cindy Clark 54

Just Associates, Washington DC 54

Participant, Themes 1 and 2 54

Marta Foresti 54

ODI, London 54

Participant 54

John Gaventa 54

Institute of Development Studies, UK 54

Overall guidance 54

Irene Guijt 54

Learning by Design 54

Participant, overall coordinator, case study editor 54

Mwambi Mwasaru 54

Human Rights Commission, Kenya 54

Participant, case study author 54

Valerie Miller 54

Just Associates, Washington DC 54

Participant, Theme 1 54

Sammy Musyoki 54

Institute of Development Studies, UK 54

Participant and co-coordinator 54

Natalia Ortiz 54

As Raiz, Colombia 54

Participant 54

Sheela Patel 54

SPARC, Mumbai 54

Participant, case study author 54

Molly Reilly 54

Just Associates, Washington DC 54

Participant, Themes 3 & 4, case study author 54

Roger Ricafort 54

Oxfam, Hong Kong 54

Participant, Theme 1 and Mumbai meeting 54

Evelyn Samba 54

Action Aid International Kenya 54

Participant, case study author 54

Ashish Shah 54

Action Aid, Kenya regional office 54

Participant 54

Ritu Shroff 54

Oxfam Great Britain, Cambodia 54

Participant 54

Lisa VeneKlasen 54

Just Associates, Washington DC 54

Participant, Themes 1 and 2 54

Name 54

Organisational Affiliation 54

Link to the ASC initiative 54

NSDF, Mumbai 54

Sherry Bartlett 54

Independent consultant 54

Documenter, Mumbai event 54

SPARC, Mumbai 54

SPARC, Mumbai 54

Biki Kangwana 54

Institute of Development Studies, UK 54

Documenter, Mombasa event 54

Kattie Lussier 54

Institute of Development Studies, UK 54

Documenter, Mombasa event 54

SPARC, Mumbai 54

Annex 2. References 55




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