Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Project Cycle Management Training
I haven’t had much to say on this blog for a while. Tonight I was sitting here wondering why I haven’t had much to say, and what I came up with is that I am finally settled into work that is somewhat familiar. If you used to read our blog in our first term you probably remember that many posts were written about bewildering experiences in a culture and work that we were shockingly different and new to us. There’s still plenty of crazy things going on, but I don’t rush as quickly to write about them, because I’ve found other ways to process the crazy aspects of life here, like talk to teammates, staff, or neighbors. This is probably a better way for me to handle stresses here, but the downside is that I have to be more deliberate in thinking of and taking time to write interesting things for you.
Well tonight you’re in luck because I am determined to write something! I debated writing about our wildest staff member, but somehow I imagine his stories about training in Quetta (decades ago, before it was on the world map), shooting RPGs at Soviet helicopters and smuggling artillery would not be comforting to you. Fortunately this fellow considered his mission accomplished when the Soviets were ousted, and for the past decades he has taken up more peaceful activities, like working for us.
Now it’s time to get back to my own peaceful topic for tonight, which I titled before writing the above paragraphs. Training is the somewhat familiar work that is busying my days lately. A month ago I started a long training program for our facilitator team (the locals that we hire to implement our various community development projects). The team has worked in community development much longer than me, and they are all closer to the age of my parents than myself, so I have to be careful what kind of training topics I push. The opportunity to train came from hiring 4 new women for the team in April. They had to start from scratch, so I was given the nod to bring participatory development training, which is one of the things I am most passionate about.
I have to admit, I was questioning my passions when my first training here completely flopped! It flopped mostly because I just couldn’t get my tongue to cooperate and spit the words out right. I decided after that to take a different approach, and I’ve been training 1 or 2 individuals from the 14-member team so that they can turn around and train the rest of the team. The pressure is off when I’m working with 1 or 2 at a time, and there is time to work through the hard parts in the training and find the best examples that will prove the points.
What are we training on? After some basics about the distinctives of our organization’s development work, and the role of community facilitators, we plunged into working out a participatory methodology for our project cycle management. I could try to define that, but it might be easier to just give you a diagram we use, and then describe an example project for you. Here’s the diagram:
This diagram illustrates how we put our work into an action-reflection cycle. Reflection is central and relates to every part of the process; it is the checkpoint between each action, to ensure that we are doing things right.
For an example lets use diahrrea, after all, ‘tis the season here! When we first interact with a community, we start a discussion around 2 pictures: 1 young person and 1 old person. We ask the community to pretend these people are from their community, and then ask them, “how is life for these people?” In this discussion problems will surface. Our next activity with the community is to draw pictures of the main problems that they have stated, and have the community members rank the importance of the problems. Ranking is easily done with dry beans given to the participants, and the result is that the community has voiced their main problems, and our project has seen which problems the community is most motivated to address. For our example we’ll say that diahrrea was #1 in the community ranking. This is problem identification.
In problem analysis the goal is to expand the understanding of the stated problem, and expose the causes of the problem so that is can properly be addressed. If diahrrea is a main problem stated by the community, our facilitators tell stories and show picture cards that illustrate the causes for diahrrea. The stories are simple: A girl does not wash her hands after using the latrine, eats her lunch, and gets sick. A boy poops outside his house, flies transmit filth from his poop to his food, and he gets sick. A woman changes a baby’s diaper and does not wash her hands, prepares a meal, and the whole family gets sick. A drinking water container is left open and flies transmit filth to it and people get sick. A man poops on the riverbank, and a boy downstream drinks the river water and gets sick. After telling each story we ask if this ever happens in their community, and then they tell their stories. After telling all our picture stories we line them up to show that diahrrea, the main problem that they stated, has many causes. It is essential for these problem causes to be analyzed, before there is any talk about solutions.
If you were really enjoying this post, I apologize that it is going to have to be a “to be continued” This is long enough for one post, and I’m out of energy, so I will pick this up another evening, thanks for reading!