This book is intended for all who are committed to human wellbeing and who want to make our world fairer, safer and more fulfilling for everyone, especially those who are ‘last’. It argues that to do better, we need to know better.
It provides evidence that what we believe we know in international development is often distorted or unbalanced by errors, myths, biases and blind spots. Undue weight has been attached to standardised methodologies such as randomised control trials, systematic reviews, and competitive bidding; these are shown to have huge transaction costs, which are rarely if ever recognised in their enormity.
Robert Chambers contrasts a Newtonian paradigm in which the world is seen and understood as controllable with a paradigm of complexity, which recognises that the real world of social processes and power relations is messy and unpredictable. To confront the challenges of complex and emergent realities requires a revolutionary new professionalism.
This is underpinned by a new combination of canons of rigour expressed through eclectic methodological pluralism and participatory approaches that reverse and transform power relations. Promising developments include rapid innovations in participatory information and communication technnologies (ICTs), participatory statistics, and the Reality Check Approach, with its up-to-date and rigorously grounded insights. Fundamental to the new professionalism, in every country and context, are reflexivity, facilitation, groundtruthing, personal mindsets, behaviour, attitudes, empathy and love.
This Practice Paper aims to contribute to ongoing reflections and debates taking place among aid practitioners about if, and how, big international NGOs (BINGOs) can be more effective agents of ‘progressive social change'.
It summarises a series of conversations that took place among seven members of the Institute of Development Studies Participation Power and Social Change team and staff from eight BINGOs between July 2008 and March 2009. During the conversations, participants considered how internal and external factors influence the potential of BINGOs to contribute to shifts in power relations; greater realisation of rights; and enhanced economic, political and social justice for poor and vulnerable people.
All of this was encapsulated in the term 'progressive social change'. At the end of the process, participants agreed that there is considerable scope for many BINGOs to pursue a more progressive agenda. They recommended that similar conversations need to continue and branch out, both in topical range and in participants in order to stimulate the kind of reflection and organisational learning required to do so.
This paper includes accounts of discussions, case studies shared by participants, inputs from academic critiques of BINGOs and practical tools to feed into such deliberations. It explores the types of changes that BINGOs are trying to achieve, the approaches they use - their models of change, and challenges and tensions commonly perceived to prevent BINGOs pursuing more radical social change agendas.
Provocative questions are raised as a means to help practitioners identify changes that their organisations need to make in order to more actively pursue social, economic and political justice. In some instances inspiring examples from BINGO participants suggest means to do so. References to organisational theory, meeting discussions and BINGO case studies are used to interrogate assumptions about how large complex organisations behave and to identify lessons that may be used to inform efforts to transform BINGOs into more effective agents of progressive social change.
This working paper reflects the findings of the first phase of the REJUVENATE project, which set out to understand and map approaches to integrating children, youth, and community participation in child rights initiatives.
In this paper, we:
Grounded in an understanding of child rights as ‘living rights’, we propose building on the 3Ps of the UNCRC (protection, provision and participation) towards the 3Ss – space, support and system change.
We offer a set of field principles (REJUVENATE) to guide substantively participatory work with children and young people, underpinned by our Ndoro Ndoro model, which refers to intergenerational, community-driven approaches that put children and youth at the centre, while being accountable to them.
We recognise that this paper is far from exhaustive, and we intend it to be a springboard for further work that substantively recognises the importance of children’s participation in work to further child rights, and to enrich and rejuvenate the societies of which children are a part.
How do you think we learn best? What barriers do you see and experience that make it more difficult for us to learn? And what steps should we be taking to reduce the barriers and improve how we learn more effectively?
This Sanitation Learning Hub Learning Paper summarises the key learning from a rapid topic exploration on ‘Learning in the Sanitation and Hygiene Sector’.
The study looked at how people in the WASH sector learn, the processes utilised and what works best, as well as the barriers and challenges to learning. It looks at learning from communities and peer-to-peer and how the learning gets translated into action at scale.
This paper shares the lessons from sector and associated actors working in low- and middle-income contexts around the world and makes recommendation on how to strengthen learning and sharing processes, as well as building capacities and confidence for learning, with the ultimate aim of turning that learning into action at scale. A shorter learning brief accompanies this paper.
This report is based on the findings of a UK project designed to support civil society to analyse power and, as a result, take action for social change. It describes how strategies for change can be stregthened when organisations and their communities have a better understanding of their own power and what they can achieve.
Over the past few years, the Sanitation Learning Hub, in collaboration with the Government of India, Praxis, WSSCC and WaterAid India, have been developing Rapid Action Learning approaches. Multiple approaches have been trialled, with flexible formats, but the essential criteria is that learning is timely, relevant and actionable.
These learning approaches are the focus of the latest edition of the Frontiers of Sanitation series. This Frontiers explains the advantages and disadvantages of the approaches trialled and sets out a challenge to those working in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector to:
To commemorate and reflect on the publication, the Hub sat down with colleagues and partners WaterAid India and WSSCC to discuss lessons learned and the future of Rapid Action Learning. You can watch these five short videos in the playlist below.
With PhotoVoice research participants can express themselves in a visual medium instead of using words, which is beneficial for those who can’t communicate their WASH needs as easily or find it difficult to speak about taboo issues.
This Sanitation Learning Hub Learning Paper explores the potential of an innovative participatory visual method known as PhotoVoice to help to achieve universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) by 2030. The paper outlines what PhotoVoice is, and shares learning relating to its use in the WASH sector around the world for research, programming and advocacy.
It draws on lessons learned from these experiences to show how PhotoVoice can be used for learning in WASH, how it can be used with other methodologies to explore topics which are neglected or taboo, and the benefits and drawbacks of PhotoVoice to consider. It includes practical recommendations for using PhotoVoice in WASH and the ethical considerations to make when it is used. The paper reflects on how PhotoVoice is important for exploring new frontiers in WASH, and can help us gain a deeper understanding into how people experience, interpret and respond to their realities.