Frameworks for capturing impacts of ABCD
Tips, Tools, Strategies, and Technology
Thanks for the responses so far
updated by @ian-cunningham: 11/05/17 05:22:06PM
Thanks for the responses so far
[possibly belongs under the evaluation thread but I've left it as a 'tool' for now]
Possibly one for those who have led evaluations of ABCD programs in the past - I'm interested in frameworks you may have used to capture changes from ABCD programs.
I have been working on an ABCD project in rural Malawi, they did an amazing job of citizen-led M&E throughout the project, and the mid-term and final review took a deeply participatory approach too. However, the findings in written reports tended to focus mainly on tangible outcomes (things easier to touch, feel, measure). Other aspects like changes in attitudes (psychological assets as described by some) were included in reporting, but less so.
Hence, I'm keen to know of any well-being or similar frameworks you have found useful to assess or reflect on change?
There are TONNNES of well-being frameworks out there, we used a slightly modified version of the "Well-being in development" framework from Well-being in Developing Countries Research. Their framework classifies well-being as deeply rooted in relationships, with relational, material and subjective perceptions of well-being co-existing and linking with each other. A summary of the dimensions of well-being they use are outlined below
a) social ie. social relations, collective action and access to public goods (relationship to the state)
b) human ie. capabilities, attitudes, personal relationships
2. Material. ie. $ earned, employment, livelihood activities etc
ie. mediated by:
a) values, ideologies and beliefs
b) perceptions of material and relational well-being
We tweeked this to make it more aligned with the ABCD approach and reflective of change - we asked questions of citizens of their experience of attitudinal, relational and tangible changes. Using this as a framework helped illicit a different (complementary) story than previous evaluations. I'd be happy to share findings once it's finalised/published.
Meanwhile, I'm interested in your experience in using anything similar (or different) either as a reflective tool for participants during the process of ABCD or in evaluations. I note Coady have a useful paper on this topic you can access via here.
I'd be interested in your findings on evaluating relationship health if you're able to share here or offline.
I am really enjoying the discussion and thanks for your lengthy and very interesting reply David, I'll check out those references.
Just to clarify to both John and David I wasn't suggesting that ABCD is about experts getting community to do what they want. As you suggested David that is the 'wrongness' associated with many International Development projects and will form a big part of my PhD.
I wanted to revisit the point on attitude changes through ABCD. Perhaps it is a language issue (what I call an attitude), but when I have used ABCD approaches for myself and seen them in action they bring hope and possibility (attitudes) and action too of course. I would call this "hope" an attitude change that is part of ABCD and is part of a community moving towards their aspirations (the action component).
I've read some interesting evaluations/thesis which focus on attitudes of defeatedness and neediness, one of the negative legacies propagated by "Development" work as you highlighted David. And ABCD has been used to turn those attitudes around at least initially and resulted in an organised community that gets things done". I would see attitude change as part of the theory of change of ABCD.
Many thanks for your reply, useful and thought provoking.
I am still pondering your first point, I'll reply to that later.
On the second point. I have my own (not very positive) thoughts on the restricted access of academic literature. I understand the contradiction between an expert model vs the philosophy of ABCD. There is some (but very useful) literature out there including Alison Mathie's write up of anhttp://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09614524.2014.899560#.Vw7Pr0aUYiM" target="_blank">evaluation that was completed by the community in question. It's a great article but one of the few that is around in journals.
There seems to be minimal critical review or ABCD or analysis. I have advocated for the approach and use ABCD a lot, train others in it.... but find there is a level of reflection in how or why the process is working (or when it has not) that is not documented. At least I haven't found much on it!
You have raised lots of interesting points within your post
"these technology and infrastructure projects might bring in outside resources, but should create a stronger, permanent connection between the community and those outside resources like a county technician, a water pump supplier/repairer in the nearest city, and government funds available for infrastructure projects."
I have been reading a colleagues PhD thesis on Citizen Voice and ABCD/strength based approaches, it taught me quite a lot on how ABCD/SBA can be integrated into working with service providers, reducing conflict and helping collaboration between a 'community' and those who have a role to support them.
In reflection, when I used ABCD for an extended period the partnership neglected integration with government. The water users group certainly accessed suppliers (who provided materials and technical advice) but collaborated minimally with the government. A large reason was because the community water user group had bad experience with government projects in the past, they wanted this to be "theirs".
Looking for local assets (local materials, local expertise) has practical, economic and resilience benefits. A supplier 2 hours away as was the case in this instance is possibly bordering "outside resources" but was also a huge asset. I was also an "outside asset" in a sense I was working with them for a defined period and the water user group did utilise me for technical advice.
In grappling with similar questions to you, my mantra was: are those implementing the project (the community water user group) accessing and utilising these external resources from a standpoint of power? Or in turning to external aid were they forgoing their power and ability to self-determine their future.
My first posting and a possibly provocative discussion question.
I am in the process of PhD research focusing on ABCD particularly in the context of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects in emerging nations in particular. The WASH sector is quite self-reflective and constantly grappling with how to make change stick. Albeit often looking to technology, process etc rather than a human focus.
My 'lens' at the moment for looking at ABCD mainly revolves around power, how ABCD process is both a standpoint from which power is 'awakened/revealed' in us from which point action/change happens.
There is plenty of excellent practice based tools and manuals on ABCD although there is frustratingly little peer reviewed literature. Amongst the practice material and some of the academic material there are many inspiring case studies of change, innovation, enterprise etc that has come from ABCD. I am interested in research that examines how changes facilitated by ABCD lasts (or not). Do attitudinal changes sustain and continue to support existing and new outcomes in other areas 5 years later, 10 years later etc? Do the "I can" attitudes nurtured by facilitators continue?
How does the shift in power translate to other changes in well-being longer term?
Case studies are useful but for the purpose of the PhD at least some peer reviewed literature is also needed.