Methods are the organized, logical steps that are taken when planning, organizing and carrying out an activity or group of activities. With PAME, the methods are very closely linked with the concept and the tools.
PAME is an ongoing process of information identification, information gathering, information analysis and information feedback. The methods are distinguished by the kinds of information they are designed to elicit, and by their temporal position in the project. The tools are used to gather the information required. There are some tools, such as Drawing and Discussion, that crosscut all methods, and some tools which are specific to one method.
Six methods are used in the PAME approach:
* Community Site Selection
* Participatory Monitoring and ongoing evaluation (PMoe)
* Participatory Evaluation Events (EE)
* Analysis of Information and Communication of Results
"And Bureaucrats, that urban type,
wait prudently till crops are ripe
before they venture to the field, to
put their question: "What's the yield?"
Unfortunately, projects are often "stuck" with an identified, pre-determined "solution" to a "problem" long before the community is consulted. Most projects are funded for a specific purpose, be it forestry, health, water, or education. So in many ways the "site selection," in terms of country, area, and focus, the "problem" and the "solution," have been done in advance.
It would be ideal to have "blank slate" projects. And while some agencies are moving towards this by including community members on outsider appraisal or assessment missions, or offering several activities under one "umbrella" project (Health, Water, Forestry, Education), most projects start with some proscriptions, "givens".
For example, field staff often have to choose specific communities in which to work. There are often many potential communities from which to choose, but the project is limited by having the financial and human resources to work with only a few. How can field staff decide which communities to work with? The purpose of a community site selection by outsiders is to obtain information on which to base these kinds of decisions.
In Sudan, a Gum Arabic (Acacia senegal) rehabilitation project had over 2300 villages in their designated project area, and resources to work with only 6 villages the first year.
The large distances between villages, difficulty in travelling during the planting season, the lack of reliable transportation and few trained extension staff were identified as major constraints. Project staff decided that clustering the villages would deal with most of these constraints. This reduced the potential 2300 villages to 160 villages.
Field staff then did a two week "reconnaisance mission" and short survey visit of the 160 villages, and decided that the major criteria for success were well maintained wateryards, good water committees,
and strong community leadership. Using the results of the survey the field staff met again and short listed the 160 villages to 15.
They returned to these 15 villages and spoke with the leaders, explained their two major criteria, and discussed again with the village leaders the potential of the community to support the project activities. With this information, the 6 villages were then chosen.
In retrospect, the field staff found that meeting with the leaders had not involved the community as much as it could have. The next year of operation they improved this by doing the strength and weaknesses exercise (TOOL 18), at community meetings.
Some projects have found that developing a list of criteria can be helpful for community selection. These criteria are often a list of characteristics which are thought to be necessary for project success. Criteria can be organized under the following headings:
Does the community have, or see itself as having the same problems and the same order of priorities that the project does?
It is important to identify the communities which need the services the project and its resources can provide.
Observation, use of government records and existing studies, and tours of potential sites are probably the best information gathering techniques. A round table "community selection" discussion by field staff and selected community members, based on the information which is gathered, can help to establish appropriate criteria for site selection. Quite often decisions will be based on informed common sense.
Assessing the physical potential of a community will depend on the project's range of possible activities. It is important that the basic conditions for meeting objectives either exist or have the potential to exist in the community.
For example, it would be unrealistic to initiate a community woodlot in a community that does not have any communal or unused land, or to introduce alleycropping in an area that is not experiencing soil infertility.
Ask the question:
"What factors must be present in the community in order to accomplish the proposed activities?"
Some of the factors that may have to be examined are:
Pre-defined projects have many constraints. They are often limited to specific goals and specific areas in which they can undertake activities. They are limited by legal frameworks of national forest policies. Can people cut the forest they plant? Can they sell charcoal they make? They are limited by the number of staff and budget made available to them. And they may also be limited by factors such as transportation, and access to materials. It must be very clear to field staff what can and cannot be done by the project so that they are able to relay the message clearly to the communities with whom they are going to work.
Answering the following kinds of questions may help:
"What project/regional characteristics will limit possible success?"
(For example, lack of trained staff, national forest policies, legal constraints regarding land).
or "What can we realistically provide to communities?"
It is generally believed that community organizations are the key to successful community forestry projects. Community organizations are defined as collections of people who have reason to work together to accomplish a goal.
If the project is going to be channeled through a community organization, the potential for existing or new community organizations must be assessed. If the project is dealing with individual farmers, assessment of community organizations may not be required. However, if resource use will be changed by the project, if neighbors will have to keep their animals off a farmer's property even after crops are harvested in order to protect tree seedlings, community discussions and general agreement supported by informal and formal leaders will be needed.
FROM EXPERIENCE - EXISTING COMMUNITY SYSTEMS
A case study of indigenous forest management in Nepal pointed out that:
(1) The essential feature of indigenous systems is the presence of institutionalized norms based on a degree of consensus among users. Formal organizations, where they exist, are a superstructure (sometimes not essential) built on this essential substratum. The absence of a formal organizational structure does not mean that no local system exists; nor does the disappearance of the organizational superstructure constitute the disappearance of the system.
(2) Committees are often not the locus of decision-making in indigenous systems and it is a mistake to assume that the presence or absence of a committee equates to the presence or absence of effective local institutions or organizations. In externally sponsored systems, formal organizations often exist without institutionalized norms or roles, and consequently these organizations often do not function effectively.
(3) Failure to take adequate note of the local institutional decision-making system is a major limitation of attempts by outside agencies to set up effective forest management systems.
Source: Fisher et al (1989)
There may already be organizations functioning in the community that can take on an extra set of activities, or organizations that can be strengthened and supported to take on new roles.
If an existing organization is going to be used, look at who controls it and whether the leadership has the desired qualities (concern for equitable distribution of benefits and the best interests of the community). Examine the time and leadership resources the organization has available. Consider the pros and cons associated with giving the organization extra responsibilities. This may help to decide if an existing organization is capable of handling extra responsibilities.
In one area in Kenya, women's groups, which were traditionally organized along kinship lines to support funeral rituals, were used for training and group extension to promote nurseries and tree planting. In Korea, Mother's Clubs turned to nursery production to earn funds for their other activities. Experience shows, however, that it is often difficult for an informal group organized for one set of objectives to take on a completely different type of responsibility.
Setting up a new organization which mirrors an existing organization is another alternative which has sometimes been successful. An agroforestry project in Sudan modeled the new nursery committees on the water committees which had been in existence for decades.
FROM EXPERIENCE - LEADERSHIP COUNTS
A case study in two communities in West Bengal found that the community who selected a leader who belonged to a strong political group alienated the "target" group because his sphere of influence did not extend to them. In another neighboring community, an apolitical person was chosen and was able to influence the entire community.
There is another example from southern India where the men who had been managing community food rations were distributing them in an unequitable manner because they had many "favors" to return. When the management was turned over to women who did not have political "favors" to repay, it was possible to distribute the food more equitably.
In Sudan, where women were not speaking up at community meetings, a separate meeting of women was arranged by the project, and a 6 person women's committee was formed. This committee met separately and then with the 6 person men's committee. The women's input proved to be crucial to the success of village nurseries, as they provided most of the nursery labour. The women's input also changed the types of species requested, as they were more interested in fruit and shade species than income producing (Acacia senegal) tree crops.
By the time the COMMUNITY SELECTION has been done, the project
staff will have a better sense of:
1. What they can and cannot offer communities.
2. What community resources will be required to implement the project. In community forestry this is especially important, because a great deal of the input from the community may be required in the form of land, labour, risk, and time.
3. The outsider's role, if a contract with the community is to be negotiated.
"Outsiders who come with ready made solutions are worse than useless. They must first understand from us what our questions are, help us to articulate them better, and then help us to find solutions."
A community is a complex arrangement of people with kinship, political, economic, religious and social ties to one another and other communities. Depending on the nature of these relationships, communities can be cohesive or divided. Ties among community members are often generational, and deeply entrenched, as are the ways in which a community deals with crisis or problems. While the methods that are used to address problems under normal conditions may be effective, these indigenous problem solving methods may break down when social structures have eroded or when new, unprecedented problems present themselves.
Community Problem Analysis (CPA) builds on pre-existing community problem solving methods, laws and structures to help community members identify, analyse and find solutions to their problems. It uses these same structures to facilitate negotiations between community, outside interest, and/or user groups. Often, through the assistance of an outsider, the communities can probe and explore new approaches to problem solving. The new perspectives which are introduced can increase the likelihood of new solutions.
The purposes of CPA in the context of community forestry projects are:
FROM EXPERIENCE - ASK THE COMMUNITY
"There is an under-exploited scope for asking rural people themselves to identify their needs, the ways in which they can be helped, or who in the community are most vulnerable or most in need."
Source: Chambers (1986)
While CPA is most often done at the first (design) phase of a project, before implementation, it can be used in other phases. Many of the methods and tools can be used during project implementation. Here are a few examples of times that this method can be used.
DURING THE PROJECT
In the middle of a project (which has not been "fully" participatory) it is noticed that there is a problem. Community enthusiasm has died down and volunteer labour is not sufficient to keep the project going. Targets are not being met. CPA is useful at this point to discover what the problems are, and to redirect future activities, targets and/or strategies.
DURING AN EVALUATION
During a mid-project or final project evaluation, it is recognised that there is ample quantitative information available, but very little information about whether the project has met the real needs of the community. CPA can provide qualitative, retrospective information, and help to direct future activities. In this way, CPA encourages community participation, iimproves project design and results in more sustainable projects.
DURING A CRISIS
CPA can also be used to help resolve a crisis. The crisis may be the result of community conflicts that were not recognized when the project began, or unanticipated conflicts that have resulted from project activities. CPA provides analytical methods and tools to assist in conflict resolution.
FROM EXPERIENCE - A WAVE IN THE SEA
According to a Filippino peasant, extensionists have to be like waves in the sea; made of the same water, but which rise up above the water according to the needs of the situation, and merge into the water again when the need is over.
Not the only wave, and not too big a wave which overpowers others.
Source: Bhasin (1976)
Because CPA builds on local community analytical skills, and existing community structures, facilitators may have to vary the method (and the tools) to fit the specific community.
While some communities will analyse their problems without outside assistance, an outsider perspective can often aid the development of new solutions. Depending on the effectiveness of pre-existing community analytical and communication skills, a facilitator may take a major or a very small role.
Recognized community leaders or groups can lead the discussions, or new leaders may emerge during the problem identification process. And while CPA tools can facilitate the process, the community can also call upon its own pre-existing resources to solve the problem at hand.
Some guidelines for project field staff in the facilitating role are:
1. Develop sensitivity and listening skills. Respect and support the existing community skills and yet know when to introduce appropriate methods (and tools) to strengthen these local skills. Listen to stories telling how problems have been dealt with in the past as this can deepen understanding of existing community analytical processes.
2. Use key informants who can describe the power structure of the community. Working relationships with local leaders can make or break a project, especially when the poorer strata of the community are the prospective beneficiaries. Although the primary beneficiary group may be identified as the poorer group, experience shows that usually local leaders must also benefit. Benefits can be political, economic and/or social.
3. In group discussions, have community members describe the way the community has made decisions in the past. How effective has this method been? Can it be improved upon? How?
4. Clearly and honestly present the project's development objectives and inputs, and the inputs expected from the community.
5. If necessary, suggest tools which are likely to facilitate community problem analysis. Be aware of the uses and benefits of PAME tools.
6. Facilitate community identification of problems by determining their capacity and their needs, and having them set their own objectives. This will enable both field staff and the community to better judge if the project and community objectives are compatible and therefore likely to be achievable.
7. Help the community negotiate when there are conflicting interest groups within (or outside) the community. If the project wants to help the most disadvantaged, negotiation with the community may be necessary in order to reach this beneficiary group.
In CPA, the community must answer the following kinds of questions:
"Do we need what the project offers?"
"Do we want what the project offers?"
"Do we have the capacity to achieve what the project proposes?"
It may be useful to establish a framework for analysis using the same categories outsiders use to select communities.
Community problem identification increases the probability that the right problem is being addressed by both parties. Identification helps define the community's interest in problems which in turn, gives the community a vested interest in finding a workable solution. Some of the questions that can be addressed are:
"Do we have the "problem"?"
"Is this problem a high priority?"
"Does this project offer the best solution to our problem?"
FROM EXPERIENCE - DRAWING TO ASSIST IN DISCUSSION
A poultry marketing project in Chad (SONAPA) used drawings, discussion and ranking to assist community identification of the project's problems. These tools together overcame language difficulties between project staff and villagers and also helped them identify solutions to problems. Some of the drawing produced are shown:
The act of drawing had a strong fun component for everyone, and was instrumental in developing rapport between project staff and villagers.
Source: Scheuermeir (1989)
There are many tools which facilitate and focus discussion and assist the community's problem identification. These tools are described in Section 8. Depending on the specific community conditions, some of the tools which might be useful in problem identification are:
Maps and mapping
Drawing and Discussion
Ranking, Rating and Sorting
It is important for communities to know that the project is able to provide an appropriate "solution" to the problems they have identified. The field worker can present the project's approach and objectives, and discuss openly whether or not these are reasonable; whether the solutions are "tried and true", "experimental", or "best bets".
It is important for the community to discuss and ascertain whether the necessary conditions for project activities exist or can be created.
The community can explore the question:
"Do we have the conditions necessary to carry out the project (sufficient land and water, etc.)?"
The relevant physical attributes of the area can be listed, and ways of overcoming constraints can be discussed by the community.
Many political or social conditions can limit community members' ability to achieve stated objectives. It is important to identify what can, or cannot be changed. Access to land or to tree products, power structures operating within the community, or labour availability can sometimes be community constraints.
Discussions surrounding the constraints may be very sensitive, especially if community leaders are operating to the disadvantage of some community members. There may be fear of sanctions if sensitive constraints are voiced. Finding ways to raise and recognize these issues is important. Sensitive constraints can be recognized, but do not have to be challenged.
ADVANTAGES FOR ONE MAY DISADVANTAGE ANOTHER
Something that offers advantages for one group or person (such as a woodlot to increase fuelwood and pole supplies to a group) in a community may be disadvantageous for another group. For example, the woodlot may decrease resource availability to herder families who had formerly used the land for pasture.
It is important that evaluation consider all perspectives within the community. Participatory evaluation of beneficiaries and the community can sometimes do this.
Source: Hoskins (1986)
It is also important for the community to analyse the potential of existing or possible new organizations. The following question may be helpful:
"Do we have (or can we build) an organization that can carry out this project?"
Listing all the existing formal and informal community organizations and examining each organization's resources and potential to take on extra responsibilities may be useful at this point. If a new committee or organization is proposed, it can perhaps be built to mirror an existing, successful community organization.
When community members have examined their NEEDS, their PHYSICAL POTENTIAL, the possible CONSTRAINTS, and existing or potential ORGANIZATIONS that could carry the project, they will be better able to clearly articulate their OBJECTIVES, and decide if their objectives will mesh with PROJECT OBJECTIVES.
If community members have gone through the CPA process, and decided that they would like to work with the project, they will probably already have a good idea of the project objectives. It may now be useful to translate these into community objectives and/or beneficiary group(s) objectives, to ensure that the selected objectives are "aligned", and understandable to all concerned.
For example, the following objectives may be established by the different groups:
To increase fuelwood availability to landless
To limit effects of encroaching desert and soil erosion by wind
To increase availability of fodder for livestock
To maintain/upgrade fuelwood source on common lands and ensure access to this resource
Negotiation and contracts are useful not only because they help' to spell out responsibilities, but also because they facilitate construction of clear agreements between groups with competing objectives.
In the preceding example of objectives by different groups, negotiations might result in a contract which allows landless to plant coppicing fodder/fuelwood species on common lands adjacent to private farm lands (thus providing the benefits of shelterbelts); to collect and sell fodder produced in these windbreaks; and to selectively cut shelterbelts, therefore maintaining the shelterbelts while also meeting their own fuelwood needs. It is not unlikely that many objectives can be met if they are all recognized and creatively negotiated.
When the COMMUNITY PROBLEM ANALYSIS has been done, the community, beneficiary group and project staff will know:
1. Whether they can work together as the solutions the project offers are what the community needs and wants.
2. Groups' responsibilities, possibly spelled out in a contract.
3. That community and project objectives are aligned.