This second edition of the The SAGE Handbook of Action Research has been updated to bring chapters in line with the latest qualitative and quantitative approaches in this field of social inquiry. Peter Reason and Hilary Bradbury have introduced new commentaries that draw links between different contributions and show their interrelations. Contributing authors engage with the pragmatics of doing action research and demonstrate how this can be a rich and rewarding reflective practice. They tackle questions of how to integrate knowledge with action, how to collaborate with co-researchers in the field, and how to present the necessarily 'messy' components in a coherent fashion. The organization of the volume reflects the many different issues and levels of analysis represented.
Participatory approaches and methods can generate quantitative as well as qualitative data. Mainly since the early 1990s, a quiet tide of innovation has developed a rich range of participatory ways, many of them visual and tangible, by which local people themselves produce numbers. The approaches and methods have variously entailed counting, mapping, measuring, estimating, valuing and scoring, and scaling, together with comparing and combinations of these, and have had many applications.
The methodological pioneers in going to scale in the 1990s rarely recognised the significance of what they had been doing. The pioneers of the 2000s have shown ingenuity, skill, patience and courage, sometimes in the face of opposition driven by conventional reflexes. Participatory numbers have been taken to scale most notably through participatory surveys with visuals and tangibles, through aggregation from focus groups and through wealth and wellbeing ranking. There have been breakthroughs in producing national statistics, and also on subjects and with insights inaccessible through questionnaires.
Statistical principles can be applied to participatory numbers. Ways have been found of overcoming the vexing problem of commensurability between communities. As with all ways of finding out, there are trade-offs, in this context notably between participatory open-endedness and standardisation for comparability.
The question 'who counts' - raises issues of ownership and power. Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation (PM and E) has taken many forms, with varied degrees of ownership and empowerment. Whether participatory statistics empower local people is sensitive to official attitudes and acceptance and whether these lead to changes in policy and practice that make a real difference. Questions are raised of the mix and balance of extraction and empowerment, and whether and how the quiet revolution of participatory approaches and methods can get the best of both qualitative and quantitative worlds.
This Reality Check was undertaken by a team of Nepali researchers, and carried out as a contribution to the mixed methods approach to monitoring, evaluation and learning commissioned by DFID Nepal to complement and assist the routine monitoring and evaluation of the Rural Access Programme 3 in Mid and Far West Nepal. It complements a ‘baseline’ RCA that was undertaken for RAP in May 2014.
This Introduction is taken from a more extensive resource pack (now unavailable). After a brief introduction to PRA, it looks at methods associated with:
- Space - mapping, transect walks, modelling
- Time - seasonal calendars, daily activity routines, lifelines, timelines and historical maps
- Networks and Linkages - diagramming, flow analysis, spider diagrams, problem walls and solution trees
- Prioritisation and Rapid Quantification – matrix ranking and scoring, treatment sequence matrices and wealth and wellbeing ranking.
Despite great strides in improving sanitation in developing countries, some 2.4 billion people worldwide lack access to adequate sanitation facilities and the poorest and most vulnerable members of society are often not reached. Sustainability is one of the key challenges in CLTS and the wider WASH sector. Whether sanitation improvements endure depend on issues of equity and inclusion, social norms, physical infrastructure, sanitation marketing, monitoring and verification, post-ODF follow-up and the roles and responsibilities of governments, NGOs and donors. The achievement of “open defecation-free” status is now recognised as only the first stage in a long process of change and sanitation improvement.
This book examines these challenges, asking questions such as how we ensure that people access sanitation and sustain related behaviours, and how we reach the poorest with toilets that are suitable for their needs. It develops key themes by exploring current experience, innovations and insights, as well as identifying a future research agenda and gaps in current knowledge, and making recommendations and practical suggestions.
Assessing Civil Society Participation as Supported In-Country by Cordaid, Hivos, Novib and Plan Netherlands, 1999-2004. Synthesis Report
This report presents the findings of the programme evaluation on ‘civil society participation’ commissioned by the Dutch co-financing agencies Cordaid, Hivos, Novib/ Oxfam Netherlands and Plan Netherlands. It is the fourth study in a series of programme evaluations organised during the period 2003-2006 by the MBN, the Network of Co- Financing Agencies in the Netherlands.
In 2006 oil was discovered in Uganda. With the country’s economy highly dependent on fuel imports, national oil production could make a long-term contribution to poverty alleviation. But for sustainable development to occur, participatory governance must ensure that people are involved in the decision-making processes affecting their lives. This paper, therefore, first analyses the adequacy of the existing legal framework on access to information and participation. Its findings show that although law and policy in Uganda indicate certain efforts to open up environmental decision-making processes to public influence, this is not the case in the oil production sector. On the basis of interviews and focus group studies it further examines the main practical barriers to better public participation. The author finds that in practice, public participation is subject to several financial, technical and political constraints. The culture of secrecy within government bodies, weak civil society structures as well as the politics of patronage remain substantive challenges for the fair and equitable management of natural resources in Uganda.
Community report: a participatory approach to assessing the impact of ICT access on quality of life in KwaZulu-Natal
This report is based on the experience and findings of a group of 113 people who took part in a two-year participatory research project. This was known as the Community-Based Learning, Information & Communication Technologies (ICTs) and Quality of Life (CLIQ) project. The aim of the project was to find out if ICTs can have an impact on people’s quality of life.
Participants came from four poorer communities in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Through their local telecentres, CLIQ provided free computer training and use and alongside this, participants discussed their quality of life and their life goals at different stages of the fieldwork. Some telecentres were not operating as well as others and some people were not able to participate as fully as others. The CLIQ research showed that when people use computers, they can improve their lives.
Training is important and should be linked to the needs of people who should be supported in their use of computers to help them reach their goals. For this to succeed it is essential that they have good access to computers that work.
The report is in memory of Nonhlanhla Gema.
This paper provides conceptual and methodological guidelines for researchers seeking to undertake an urban participatory climate change adaptation appraisal (PCCAA), illustrated with examples from appraisals in Mombasa (Kenya) and Estelí (Nicaragua). It highlights the importance of hearing local people’s voices regarding incrementally worsening and often unrecorded severe weather. The conceptual framework distinguishes between the analysis of asset vulnerability and the identification of asset-based operational strategies, and sets out a number of methodological principles and practices for undertaking a PCCAA. This PCCAA addressed five main themes: community characteristics; severe weather; vulnerability to severe weather; asset adaptation; and institutions supporting local adaptation. For each of these, it identified potential tools for eliciting information, illustrated by examples from Mombasa and Estelí.
The benefits of participatory methodologies to develop effective community dialogue in the context of a microbicide trial feasibility study in Mwanza, Tanzania
During a microbicide trial feasibility study among women at high-risk of HIV and sexually transmitted infections in Mwanza, northern Tanzania we used participatory research tools to facilitate open dialogue and partnership between researchers and study participants.
A community-based sexual and reproductive health service was established in ten city wards. Wards were divided into seventy-eight geographical clusters, representatives at cluster and ward level elected and a city-level Community Advisory Committee (CAC) with representatives from each ward established. Workshops and community meetings at ward and city-level were conducted to explore project-related concerns using tools adapted from participatory learning and action techniques such as listing, scoring, ranking, chapatti diagrams and pair-wise matrices.
Key issues identified included beliefs that blood specimens were being sold for witchcraft purposes; worries about specula not being clean; inadequacy of transport allowances; and delays in reporting laboratory test results to participants. To date, the project has responded by inviting members of the CAC to visit the laboratory to observe how blood and genital specimens are prepared; demonstrated the use of the autoclave to community representatives; raised reimbursement levels; introduced HIV rapid testing in the clinic; and streamlined laboratory reporting procedures.
Participatory techniques were instrumental in promoting meaningful dialogue between the research team, study participants and community representatives in Mwanza, allowing researchers and community representatives to gain a shared understanding of project-related priority areas for intervention.
"We are Healthy, Why Change?" Perspectives, Observations, Experiences of People Living in Poverty on Their Hygiene and Nutrition
The Reality Check Approach is an internationally recognised qualitative research approach that requires the study team to live with people in poverty in their own homes for a period of time and to use this opportunity to have many informal conversations and interactions with all the members of the household, their neighbours and with the service providers with whom they interact.
This study was jointly commissioned by a group of stakeholders including the World Bank, KOMPAK and the Knowledge Sector Initiative. It was designed to understand the nuances of hygiene and nutrition behaviour from the perspective of families living in poverty.
The study was undertaken in three provinces across Indonesia (Central Kalimantan, Maluku, and North Sulawesi), the same districts as those chosen for the Frontline Service Providers RCA study to enable further examination and triangulation of the dynamics between the community and frontline service providers.
What we live everyday is not right: Partnerships for accountability and safer cities in South Africa
This report aims to provide inspiration and impetus to those making decisions about how to implement and monitor the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It shows how local level experiences and ideas can contribute to greater accountability and ultimately to increasing the impact of policies and initiatives aimed at reaching the SDGs. The work featured here focuses on how to make cities and informal settlements safer and more inclusive, taking as a starting point the extremely high levels of insecurity and violence that characterise daily life for many within townships and informal settings in South Africa.
A team of researchers from the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) knowledge hub at the Institute of Development Studies, WaterAid and Praxis adopted an Immersive Research Approach (IRA) to try to gain in-depth understanding of ground realities and community perspectives relevant for the Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin (SBM-G). They sought to learn and be open to emerging findings, while keeping a focus on behaviour change.
This note describes what they did, what they learnt, challenges they faced, and lessons and guidance for its use by others.
The CLTS Knowledge Hub, based at the Institute of Development Studies, convened a regional workshop in Arusha, Tanzania, 16-20 April 2018 with support from SNV Tanzania. The event brought together those engaged in rural WASH programming from eight countries across the region (Burundi, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia) alongside experts working at regional and global levels. Over the course of five days participants shared experiences, innovations, challenges and learning, and mapped gaps in knowledge with the aim of improving capacity and future learning, and building consensus on the way forward. SNV Tanzania also facilitated a field visit to its Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All (SSH4A) project areas in Babati and Karatu districts.
This learning brief presents the common challenges and barriers to achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6.2 that the workshop participants identified across the region. It summarises discussions held across the week, highlights promising practices and considers priority actions moving forward.
The brief is available to download in English (to the right) and also in French here.