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Using Mixed Methods to Measure and
Monitor Empowerment in Projects and
Programs:
Bangladesh, Ghana and Jamaica
Nora Dudwick (PRMPR)
Jeremy Holland (OPM)
Gil Yaron (GYA)
PRMPR
June 23, 2008
Outline of presentation
• Empowerment: what is it and why measure and
monitor it?
• Bangladesh: Measuring empowerment impacts
of social safety net programs on women
• Ghana: Measuring empowerment outcomes on
water, education and infrastructure beneficiaries
of a rural CDD project
• Jamaica: Community-based monitoring of social
policy outcomes, with a focus on youth-police
relations
• Conclusions: Lessons learned and implications
2
for monitoring empowerment
Why measure empowerment?
• The WDR 2000/1 identified “empowerment” as
an important development objective
• “Empowerment” is closely linked to other
corporate agendas of “social accountability,” and
the “demand for good governance”
• Empowerment enhances people’s choices and
opportunities
• While a legitimate goal in and of itself, evidence
suggests that empowerment improves poverty
reduction outcomes
3
Operationalizing empowerment
• Empowerment: the interaction of agency and
opportunity structure
• Agency can be measured through proxies -- the
material, financial, social, human, informational,
psychological and other assets that people
deploy to achieve their goals
• Opportunity structure: the formal and informal
institutions (“rules of the game”) that constrain or
facilitate people’s ability to exercise agency
4
Why use mixed methods?
• Access to most assets can be measured by
indicators (but qualitative methods better at
evaluating psychological, social assets)
• Institutional context can be only partially
measured by indicators, and calls for qualitative
methods
• Empowerment (as transformative choice) is
difficult to measure quantitatively and benefits
from a mixed method approach
• ME pilots combined questionnaires, focus
groups, Community Score Cards, individual
interviews, and rapid ethnography
5
Aim of Measuring Empowerment project
• Operationalize empowerment and identify indicators for
specific project, program and policy contexts
• Go beyond looking at access and satisfaction
(beneficiary model) to look at people’s ability to make
choices and demand better services
• Pilot a cost-effective tool for producing timely feedback
to projects, programs & policies and increasing the
evidence base for policy makers
• Each pilot was undertaken in conjunction with ongoing
in-country monitoring of specific project, program, or
policy outcomes
• TFESSD activity, supported by Country Team and
Government expertise in each country
6
Measuring empowerment: The challenge
• Meaning: Can we capture the essence of
empowerment? Can we observe changes that are
meaningful in both direction and magnitude (i.e.
identifying whether a person or group is “more
empowered” and “how much more empowered”)?
• Causality: Can we attribute cause and effect to a
dynamic, relational and cross-sectoral phenomenon?
How can we measure implicit choice which may not be
observable (i.e. people may choose not to choose)?
• Comparability: Can we aggregate data so that
conclusions about empowerment impacts and changes
can be inferred for larger population groups?
7
BANGLADESH: Empowerment impacts of
Social Safety Net Programs on women
8
Bangladesh - motivation
The Bangladesh PRSP emphasises the:
– Role of Social Safety Net Programs (SSNP) in
reducing poverty
– Need to focus on the empowerment of women
The substantial literature on women’s empowerment in
Bangladesh does not treat SSNP in detail
It was possible to explore this issue by adding TFESSD
funds to an existing JSDF-funded survey of SSNP being
implemented by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics
9
Bangladesh - context
The aim of the survey was to measure the
empowerment impacts on women of the
following SSNP:
1. Food-for-work (FFW)
2. Vulnerable Group Development (VGD)
3. Primary Education Stipend program (PESP)
4. Vulnerable Group Feeding (VGF)
5. Old Age Allowance Scheme
6. Allowance for Widowed, Deserted, and
Destitute Women
7. Allowance for Distressed Disabled Persons
10
Bangladesh – methodology overview
FGD (72)
SSI analysis
Household
Survey (2741)
Beneficiaries: ordered logit
Community
Survey (69)
All: Propensity score matching
Women’s
Survey (2741)
11
Bangladesh – Empowerment indicators 1
Women’s questionnaire:
• Control over assets (husband, self, joint, others)
• Participation in village meetings and elections (&
if not, why not)
• Participation in household decision making (h, s,
j, o) including joining organisations, economics
& child related
• Autonomy (visiting & purchases) & domestic
violence
12
Bangladesh – Empowerment indicators 2
Household questionnaire empowerment module e.g.
Programs make:
no difference | a small difference | a big difference |
a negative difference
Being able to resolve disputes
Membership of any local groups e.g. clubs or samitties
Being able to choose who you vote for in elections
Being able to complain to government officials
Participating in development projects
Being able to get clean water
Access to news and information
Being able to choose what work you do
Keeping children in school
13
Bangladesh – PSM methodology
Unobserved
determination &
social capital
Observable
proxies on
information &
attending
beneficiary
meetings +
factors affecting
“lobbying”
Standard PSM approach
SSNP
Empowerment
Biased
results
Our PSM approach
SSNP
Empowerment
Unbiased
results
14
Bangladesh – methodology, cont’d
We distinguish asset-based agency (such as
improved self-esteem) from actual empowerment
outcomes (such as greater autonomy or more
decision making in the household)
WeAgency
also distinguish between female-headed
households in which the
female heads
are formally
Iterative
Degree of
Development
relationship
widowed, separated,empowerment
divorced or abandoned,
and
outcomes
those where women run the household without
Opportunity
describing
themselves in these terms
structure
Source: Alsop, Bertelsen and Holland (2006)
15
Bangladesh – findings
1. SSNP modestly contribute to women’s economic
empowerment
2. FFW appears to have less economic impact
than do other programs
3. SSNP have a bigger impact on keeping children
in school than on access to credit, land, water or
electricity
4. Old Age/other allowances pay for education of
children within the extended family & PESP is
used in other areas -- e.g. allowances are
fungible
5. PESP is popular but could be better targeted
16
Bangladesh – findings, cont’d
1. FGDs in particular show that SSNP do enhance selfworth and self-esteem, and increase women’s access
to information.
2. But -- increased self-esteem and access to information
did not translate into empowerment as measured by
observable changes in behaviour. Behavior change
depends on changes in the norms governing
acceptable female behaviour. Should husbands be
part of VGD capacity building?
3. Expansion of the Food-for-Work and Money-for-Work
schemes was the most frequently voiced request from
FGDs, although these programs have the least
economic impact. How to design better workfare
programs?
17
Bangladesh – findings, cont’d
SSNP had little effect on women’s social or civic
empowerment (i.e. on autonomy, involvement in
household decision-making and incidence of domestic
violence).
Old Age Allowances and VGD may actually result in
negative impacts, perhaps because increasing women’s
economic assets triggers a conservative backlash from
poor and poorly educated husbands. Further in-depth
qualitative analysis is needed on this issue.
18
Bangladesh – findings, cont’d
1. The combination of FGD and quantitative survey
techniques worked well. Ideally, the questionnaire
design would have built on earlier FGDs
2. The Empowerment Framework conception of
empowerment as the outcome of asset-based agency
interacting with institution-based opportunity structure is
useful.
3. It is important to focus on de facto female headed
households, not only those which identify themselves
as “widowed, separated, divorced and abandoned”.
19
GHANA: Assessing empowerment effects of the
Community Based Rural Development Project
20
Ghana - motivation
The Community Based Rural Development Project
(CBRDP) aims to empower rural populations by
supporting the decentralization process, and more
specifically, by improving delivery of rural water, health
and education infrastructure
We wanted to pilot measures to test:
1. CBRDP impact on people’s knowledge about local
government and ways of demanding better service –
social accountability agenda
2. Quantitative indicators of empowerment that could
contribute a “demand-side” component to the new
Functional Organizational Assessment Tool (FOAT)
designed to measure local government capacity
21
Ghana - context
CBRDP components include capacity building for
local government officials to deliver better
infrastructure, & training for beneficiary communities
to effectively manage it
In some CBRDP communities, work was carried out
with communities on participatory planning under the
Rapid Results Initiative (RRI).
A Beneficiary Assessment planned for the mid-term
review presented an opportunity to integrate
measures of empowerment
22
Ghana – methodology overview
CSC (6)
PAM consult
qualitative analysis
CRC (927)
Ordered logit & other
quantitative analysis
KI interviews
from tracking
study (110+153)
CSC – Community Score Card
CRC – Citizen’s Report Card
KI – Key Informant
23
Ghana – Citizens’ Report Card
CRC covered 927 households from 49 communities:
1. CBRDP communities without Rapid Results Initiative (RRI)
2. CBRDP communities from the same district with the RRI
3. A control group of non-CBRDP (but otherwise comparable)
communities
All respondents were asked questions on governance
with sub-samples asked about education, health,
water or roads.
Five point Likert scale questions were used to capture
perceptions of service quality (e.g. very dissatisfied
through to very satisfied)
24
Examples of empowerment questions in
CRC
Did your wards experience any problem with this school
in the last academic year? – 8 choices
If so, what did you do about your major problem)
1. Nothing, I do not know who to approach
2. Nothing, no one could solve this problem
3. We tried to overcome this ourselves as best as we
could
4. Went to see:
List of possible representatives
Were you satisfied with the solution?
1. Yes
2. No, nobody tried to help
3. No, they tried but I was not satisfied
25
Ghana – Community Score Card and Key
informant interviews
CSC undertaken in 6 representative districts:
1. Community members in an open meeting
2. District Assembly officials as service providers
3. Interface meetings with community, DA officials
and elected members
Information, voice & negotiation issues emerged in
community and interface meetings
Tracking study of officials trained by CBRDP.
Empowerment issues emerged in key informant
interviews undertaken as part of the tracking study
26
Ghana – education findings
CBRDP school construction projects (e.g. latrines)
significantly raised parent satisfaction with education
Both qualitative & quantitative analysis tell a similar
story:
• Parent satisfaction with services was enhanced by
more direct involvement in educational matters.
• If the PTA functions, parents were much likelier to
be satisfied with their children’s education
Looking at empowerment issues produced practical
feedback for CBRDP. Extra value can be added by
informing and involving parents (RRI, parental
involvement via PTA to improve discipline)
27
Ghana – empowerment findings
There was only limited empowerment of
consumers to resolve problems of service
delivery. For both CBRDP and control groups:
•Health facility users didn’t know where to go to
address problems. In education, even parents who
did know where to address their concerns failed to do
so.
•The qualitative data suggested that parents failed to
pursue complaints because previous complaints were
either ignored or not addressed to their satisfaction.
28
Ghana – decentralization findings
Only one-fifth had a good understanding of District
Assemblies (the highest level of local government)
There was similar or even greater levels of ignorance
about the right to attend local government meetings,
see meeting minutes, and know the content of the
budget.
Men from wealthier households and with greater
levels of schooling were generally more
knowledgeable than poorer groups, women, and
people living in the Eastern Region. Will the poor
lose out from decentralization?
Local people need more information to communicate
effectively with their DAs to secure better services
29
Ghana – RRI findings
The Rapid Results Initiative (RRI) procedures
had interesting empowerment impacts:
They promoted greater accountability, transparency,
ownership and effective management of associated
sub-projects and will be adopted more widely.
Their success suggests that community-driven
development can result in greater empowerment and
accountability in connection with the project that is
being implemented.
At the same time, evidence suggests that this
success can cause local people to engage less with
their existing Unit Committees.
30
Ghana – policy monitoring findings
The indicators tested by the pilot could be used to
monitor national processes as well. Specifically, they
can provide a demand-side to the FOAT – to monitor
decentralization
The score card process itself was empowering.
There is a need to establish structured consultation
between consumers and service providers as part of
a regular process of interaction, not as an ad-hoc
event.
31
JAMAICA: Community-Based
Policy Monitoring
32
Community-Based Policy
Monitoring in Jamaica
Objective
To evaluate social policy execution, with a
focus on the relationship between youth and
service providers, in particular the police
33
Jamaica: Methodology
A mixed-method approach applied in three
communities:
Community Score Card:
– An interactive monitoring tool that generates
quantitative and qualitative data
– 5 empowerment indicators (perception scores of
availability and exercise of choice) added to
existing score card instrument
• Peer ethnography
– In-depth analysis of underlying power relations by
“peer researchers” looking at: Identity, support and
authority; and police-youth relations.
34
Community Score
(Scale: 1= Very poor; 2= Poor; 3= Fair; 4=
Good; 5= Excellent).
Indicator
Harasson
Gardens
Poyuton
Terrace
Coolblue
Gap
Violent, poor
urban
Stable, poor
urban
Poor rural
Original indicators
Level of trust youth have in the police
1
4
4
Level of respect and courtesy displayed by the
police
2
5
5
Level of fairness displayed by police
1
4
4
Level of responsiveness of police
3
3
2
Level of effort made by police to interact with the
youth
2
5
3
Level of youth access to information about police
activities and services
3
5
1
Level of youth willingness to use police services
(e.g. reporting incidents)
4
5
4
Ability of youth to officially complain about
inappropriate police behaviour / action
5
5
2
Level of youth willingness to officially complain
about inappropriate police behaviour / action
1
4
4
Level of youth hope that police-youth relations can
improve
2
5
5
Additional empowerment indicators
35
Jamaica: Findings and Recommendations
•Social policy needs to address the agency of undervalued
youth: Amongst poor urban and rural communities, youth
have very little power in the presence of adults
•Social policy needs to rebuild relevant institutions: Within
inner city communities, in particular, young people have lost
faith in traditional institutions, turning to self-reliance and
alternative street/ gang institutions
•Social policy needs to be geared towards employment
generation to break the cycle of gun and alternative authority
structures
•While schooling is still perceived as fundamentally important
institution in framing the life choices of young people, gender
is becoming an increasingly significant factor in influencing
choices and outcomes
•Police-youth relations are at the centre of outsider-insider
contact, and are problematic but not intractable
36
Measuring empowerment in
Jamaica: Reflections
•The application of a mixed method diagnostic tool
allowed the evaluation to look at the problems
affecting everyday service provider-user interaction,
but also to delve deeper to examine the social
structural issues of class, gender and social
hierarchy.
•Rather than simply tinkering with policy
implementation at the interface of police-youth
relations (a kind of “empowerment lite” approach),
the tool can generate more “upstream” and crosssectoral social policy analysis.
37
Conclusions and
recommendations
38
Cross-cutting findings
• Measuring empowerment is important where objective is
pro-poor policy or social inclusion
• Empowerment measurement methodologies can
themselves be empowering locally while energizing
macro-level policy discussions
• Empowerment indicators can be integrated into existing
surveys but care is needed over choice of indicators
when aggregating
• Mixing methods results in better, more nuanced
information that yields policy-relevant insights on power
relations underpinning everyday interactions
• Mixed methods result in different types of evidence that
appeal to diverse stakeholders
39
Cross-cutting recommendations
• Work with local stakeholders to identify empowerment
indicators
• Include empowerment indicators in ongoing M & E
exercises
• Actively support use of appropriately sequenced mixed
methods
• Link empowerment measurement with policy
interventions that focus on assets and institutions
• Track impact of reforms that change relations between
citizens and officials (service provisions,
decentralization, etc.) where disempowerment of poor
can be unintended consequence
40