A few weeks after my last blog entry about the challenges of getting the participation of community members here in Belize, I now have progress to report. Last week we ran a workshop for community leaders from all three villages and it went really well! 11 out of 15 people turned up, including three women – and they actively listened and participated throughout the morning workshop. Now they know about the project, we have their blessing to continue and we have some new perspectives from them to incorporate into our selection of indicators.
As CupExperience and Diego Juffe commented on my last post, it was very important to give people some tangible examples of how monitoring would help them and to show empathy. During this workshop we took a lot of time to listen to the community leaders.
The meeting was clearly an important step in terms of getting their approval and buy-in, and also in terms of clarifying expectations. The participants recommended we repeat the workshop with members of the organisation’s Board, in particular the community representatives on the board.
Image below: The participants interpret and place images of different assets and activities on the wall chart that is separated into the six ‘livelihoods capitals’ as suggested by the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework. This framework is a way of thinking about grouping what everyone needs for a good quality of life in the categories of: financial, natural, social/cultural, political/legal, physical (built assets) and human.
Image below: People use colored sticker dots to vote – we asked them to put a different color sticker depending on who has responsibility for each feature of ‘a good life’ (meaning sustainable livelihoods).
Image below: Bartolo points to the graduation cap placed in the Financial Capital section. I expected it to go in the Human Capital section because it relates to education and skills. But apparently this was linked to financial well-being because the perception is that if you graduate from high school you can make more money. I also asked if it might be there because it costs money to go to high school, and they agreed.
Image below: Once everyone had put as many stickers up as they wanted, the head of the Community, Outreach and Livelihoods team was able to facilitate a very informative discussion. My aim through this exercise was to have a discussion that would bring the perceptions of responsibility for community well-being to the surface and then bridge into discussing which elements the NGO can influence, and therefore which elements it will try to monitor. For example, there was a clear abundance of dots representing the communities and the NGO in the natural capital section, so we were able to talk about how we work together to assure and improve natural resources in the area.
Following the usefulness of this workshop, next week we are running one with members of women’s groups that work together to make and sell jewelery and baskets from local non-timber forest products. I’m really excited because we’re going to combine the workshop about monitoring with an introductory training to the basic business skills they need to run their groups. I’m going to use material from a group project earlier this year to introduce advertising (marketing), finding customers, tracking finances and inventory and group management.