One of our internal sharing sessions last month was led by our Associate Consultant, Annette Fisher who shared her experience of working with a women’s Adivasi social movement to develop a ‘people’s theory of change’ (ToC) in Gujarat, India. While many of us might already be familiar with theories of change, it is interesting to see and learn how this process can be more grounded, participative and reflective.
Danielle, another one of our lead researchers, started the session by explaining more about theories of change in general, the various types of ToCs, and the different ways they can be applied and used. We also discussed how ToCs are usually developed more by ‘higher’ level programme staff rather than from, for example, local staff or directly by people most affected by the issues. It can be challenging to accommodate both programming agendas and the real situation in the field. Which brings us to Annette’s experience.
Annette’s work was done with ANANDI, a women’s social movement based in Gujarat, India which champions the causes of Adivasi tribal women, a group which has been historically marginalised in Gujarat and elsewhere. Using a participatory action research approach, Annette and her research partners in ANANDI, wanted to explore how to increase the utilisation of community-collected data (in this case related to public health services) for influencing state accountability in more strategic and efficient ways. Through the research process working with ANANDI volunteers, Annette saw that there was an opportunity to expand the process into developing a ToC, collaboratively with the ANANDI team. Using a participatory approach, allowed participants to learn together and was empowering in that it gave the local volunteers a better sense about the potential impacts their community-collected data can have.
Following Annette’s sharing we discussed the possibility of being able to create more People’s Theories of Change, what kinds of projects that might be most appropriate for, and how we can potentially interest more donors or programmes to consider exploring this type of ToC development.
Annette also shared some photos of the process, including some of the initial mapping sketches along with how the team engaged during the activities
For more information on the details of the research and ToC development by Annette & ANANDI, please check out the full report.