Reflections on research processes in a development NGO: FIVDB’s survey in 2013 of the change in household conditions and of the effect of livelihood trainings

Received from Aldo Benini:

“Development NGOs are under increasing pressure to demonstrate impact. The methodological rigor of impact studies can challenge those with small research staffs and/or insufficient capacity to engage with outside researchers. “Reflections on research processes in a development NGO: Friends In Village Development Bangladesh’s (FIVDB) survey in 2013 of the change in household conditions and of the effect of livelihood trainings” (2013, with several others) grapples with some related dilemmas. On one side, it is a detailed and careful account of how a qualitative methodology known as “Community-based Change Ranking” and data from previous baseline surveys were combined to derive an estimate of the livelihood training effect distinct from highly diverse changes in household conditions. In the process, over 9,000 specific verbal change statements were condensed into a succinct household typology. On the other side, the report discusses challenges that regularly arise from the study design to the dissemination of findings. The choice of an intuitive impact metric (as opposed to one that may seem the best in the eyes of the analyst) and the communication of uncertainty in the findings are particularly critical.”

Produced by Aldo Benini, Wasima Samad Chowdhury, Arif Azad Khan, Rakshit Bhattacharjee, Friends In Village Development Bangladesh (FIVDB), 12 November 2013

PS: See also...

“Personal skills and social action” (2013, together with several others) is a sociological history of the 35-year effort, by Friends In Village Development Bangladesh (FIVDB), to create and amplify adult literacy training when major donors and leading NGOs had opted out of this sector. It is written in Amartya Sen’s perspective that

 “Illiteracy and innumeracy are forms of insecurity in themselves. Not to be able to read or write or count or communicate is itself a terrible deprivation. And if a person is thus reduced by illiteracy and innumeracy, we can not only see that the person is insecure to whom something terrible could happen, but more immediately, that to him or her, something terrible has actually happened”.

The study leads the reader from theories of literacy and human development through adult literacy in Bangladesh and the expert role of FIVDB to the learners’ experience and a concept of communicative competency that opens doors of opportunity. Apart from organizational history, the empirical research relied on biographic interviews with former learners and trainers, proportional piling to self-evaluate relevance and ability, analysis of test scores as well as village development budget simulations conducted with 33 Community Learning Center committees. A beautifully illustrated printed version is available from FIVDB.



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