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To give an overview of the SEAGA tools.


Village social maps, Trend lines, Venn diagrams, Pairwise ranking, Flow diagram, Problem analysis chart, Farming systems diagram, Daily activity clocks, Seasonal calendars, Benefit analysis, Income and expenditure analysis, Resource picture cards, Preliminary community action plan, Options assessment and Best bets action plan.

Description of Procedures with Examples of Application

Village Social Maps

PURPOSE: Village Social Maps are tools that help us to learn about the social structure of a community, and about how differences among households are defined. It is particularly useful for learning about local definitions of "poor" and "rich", and about population changes (birth rates, in-migration, and out-migration).

Because these maps show all the household types in a community (by wealth, ethnicity, caste, religion, etc.), and their locations, they helps to ensure that people from all the different socio-economic groups are reached during the RA. They are also useful as an introduction to discussing inequities, social problems, coping strategies and solutions.

PROCESS: Organise a focus group of participants who are most likely to know all of the households in the community. Make sure that both women and men participate, or organise separate focus groups if necessary. The Village Social Map is made on the ground using local materials (or drawn on flip chart paper).

Ask the participants to start by showing the location of all households.

Once all the households are shown, a group discussion follows on what constitutes wealth and well being until agreement is reached on the main criteria. These criteria may include such things as type of house, number of livestock, cash remittances and food supply, as well as access to education and health care. Let them decide.

Next, each household is assessed using these well-being criteria, for which symbols are placed on the map. Pebbles, leaves or colours can be used. In this way, a visual map of socio-economic differences is created with group consensus.

Finally, use the SEAGA Questions to further analyse other household characteristics and differences, and population trends. Be sure that the final maps include direction indicators (North, South, East, and West) and an outline of the village borders.

If the RA team members are not already familiar with the social structure of the community before the start of the RA, it is a good idea to review secondary materials on this aspect before beginning the field study. Additional information can be obtained from informal discussions during meals and so on.

Trend Lines

PURPOSE: Trend lines are tools that help us to learn about community perceptions of change in the local environmental, economic, social or institutional patterns. It is a tool for looking at what is getting better and what is getting worse. A trend line is a simple graph depicting change over time.

PROCESS: Organise focus groups of older women and older men. Involving the elderly in developing the trend lines is essential because they know more about past events.

Ask the participants about important changes in the community, for better and worse. Use the SEAGA Questions to probe about changes in natural resources, population and economic opportunities. Ask about what other changes are important to them.

Draw a large blank graph on paper for each trend to be explored. Explain how the far left of the horizontal axis represents the past and the far right represents the present. Ask what intervals (years, events in history, etc.) should be used along the bottom axis, e.g. 1950, 1960, and 1970. Explain how the estimates of increase and decrease are to be shown on the vertical axis.

Ask the participants to produce a trend line for each issue. It will be easier to facilitate discussions about interactions and linkages among the different trends if the trend lines are placed directly above one another. Look also for intermediate- and macro-level causes for the trends.

Encourage a discussion on the reasons for the trends that have emerged. This will help learning about key problems. Discuss what solutions have been tried in the past and how effective they were. Ask what might ease the situation.

Probe to see if there is a relationship between two or more of the trends, e.g. whether a decrease in forest resources is associated with parallel increases in human population and/or increase in population of livestock. Time permitting, the trend lines can be expanded upon to include the future. Ask the participants to show what they would like the future to look like for each issue. Discuss what changes would be necessary to achieve them.

Venn Diagrams

PURPOSE: The Venn Diagram is a tool that helps us to learn about the importance of local groups and institutions. This can be useful for clarifying decision-making roles and identifying potential conflicts between different socio-economic groups. It is also helpful for identifying linkages between local institutions and those at the intermediate - and macro-levels.

PROCESS: Organise focus groups of women and men, including a mix of socio-economic groups. Be sure that the poorest and most disadvantaged (by ethnicity or caste etc.) are included, or have their own groups, as appropriate.

The Venn Diagram can be traced on the ground, but it is especially clear if coloured sticky paper circles are used on a large sheet of flip chart paper. It is helpful to cut out circles in different sizes and colours ahead of time.

Start by asking the participants to list the local groups and organisations, as well as outside institutions that are most important to them. Then, ask the participants to decide whether each organisation deserves a small, medium or large circle (to represent its relative importance). The name (or symbol) of each organisation should be indicated on each circle. (Make sure each organisation has a different colour, if possible).

Ask which institutions work together or have overlapping memberships. The circles should be placed as follows:

Separate circles = no contact, Touching circles = information passes between institutions, Small overlap = some co-operation in decision making, Large overlap = a lot of co-operation in decision making.

Discuss as many institutions as possible and ask the participants to position them in relation to each other. There may be a lot of debate and repositioning of the circles until consensus is reached. It is important to understand in what ways the different participants are satisfied or dissatisfied with the groups or institutions available to them. It is also important to understand if certain kinds of people, e.g. women, poor or a certain ethnic group, are excluded from participation in certain institutions.

Use the SEAGA Questions to deepen the discussions. Be sure to discuss and compare the Venn Diagrams produced by the different groups of participants. If one group has given a certain institution a large circle and another has given it a small circle, find out why. How is that institution relating differently to different members of the village? Note also whether one group has included fewer organisations in its diagram.

Pairwise Ranking

PURPOSE: Pairwise Ranking is a tool that helps us to learn about the most important problems of different community members. It also allows for easy comparison of different people's priorities.

Many people's priority problems are those related to the day-to-day struggle to meet basic needs, while others stem from hopes for the future. Some problems are related specifically to gender issues, such as women's lack of control over important resources or the gender-based division of labour. Pairwise Ranking highlights how the priority problems of women and men differ, and where they overlap. Similarly, the priority needs of members of different socio-economic groups are revealed.

PROCESS: Organise two separate focus groups: one of women and the other of men. Make sure that a mix of socio-economic groups (as identified in the Social Map) is included in each.

Ask the participants to think about their "problems", listing the six problems (in any order) that are most important to them.

Write the list of six problems on both the vertical and horizontal axis of a prepared blank Pairwise Ranking Matrix. Also, write each of the six problems onto separate cards. Present a pair of cards (showing two different problems) to the group. Ask them to choose the more important one. Record their choice on the prepared matrix. Ask them also to explain the reasons for their choice. Repeat until all combinations of cards have been presented and decided-upon.

Count the number of times each problem was selected and rank them. The three problems selected the highest number of times are the priority problems of the group.

Organise a second set of focus groups - this time according to socio-economic group. Make sure both women and men participate in each group. Repeat the exercise. Compare the findings from the two sets of focus groups.

Discussing problems can encourage people to identify a wish list of needs, rather than issues that are appropriate for development activities.

Flow Diagram

PURPOSE: The Flow Diagram is a tool that builds upon the learning from the Pairwise Ranking Matrix. It helps us to learn about people's understanding of the causes of their problems as well as the effects resulting from their problems. It can also be used to identify possible solutions.

The Flow Diagram deepens analysis of the main problems in the community by revealing how problems, cause, effect and solutions are linked. It can also show which problems have solutions that can be implemented by the community, which problems require external assistance to resolve, and which seem to have no solution at all.

PROCESS: Work with the same focus groups that participated in the preparation of a Pairwise Ranking Matrix.

Take only one priority problem (as identified in the Pairwise Ranking Matrix) at a time. Put the name (or symbol) of the problem in the centre of the flip chart paper and draw a circle around it.

First, ask about the causes of the problem. As each cause is named write it on a separate card. Discuss and probe until there are no more causes identified. Ask the participants which causes are related to one another. Ask assistance from participants in placing the causes cards on the flip chart in correct relationship to the problem. When everyone agrees on their placement draw arrows from the causes to the problem.

Second, ask about the effects that result from the problem. As each effect is named write it on a separate card. Discuss and probe until there are no more effects identified. Ask assistance from participants in placing the effects cards on the flip chart in the correct places. When everyone agrees on their placement draw arrows to and from the effects and problem.

Third, ask about solutions. As each solution is named write it on a separate card. Discuss and probe until there are no more solutions identified.

Ask assistance from participants in placing the solutions cards on the flip chart in the correct places. When everyone agrees on the placement of the cards, draw double lines between the solutions and the problem. Repeat for each priority problem for each group. It is important to make sure that everyone understands the difference between causes, effects and solutions. For this reason, it is important to discuss them only one at a time.

Problem Analysis Chart

PURPOSE: The Problem analysis chart is used to understand the needs of different groups in a community. With this tool all the different problems are presented and discussed with the community as a whole, showing where different people's priorities overlap and where they differ. It also allows for an expanded discussion of the causes of the problems, coping strategies and opportunities for development. Coping strategies can be built upon for development and inform if efforts to address a particular problem have already been made, have failed or have not addressed the problem completely.

While local people may have very good ideas about what they need, they may lack information about the options that development programmes can offer. It is important that relevant technical "experts" from outside agencies and organisations, such as extension officers and NGO workers, be invited ahead of time to participate. It is very important at this stage in the analysis that the local people get appropriate information so that they can make informed decisions.

PROCESS: The meeting should begin with a presentation of the learning’s thus far, beginning with a summary of the findings and concluding with the priority problems (and their causes and effects) of women and men, and the different socio-economic groups.

Use the following criteria to shorten the list of problems: (i) When a problem has been identified by more than one group, list it only once; (ii) When two or more problems are very closely related (sharing causes, effects and solutions), name them as one problem; and (iii) When a problem has no solution, e.g. climate, eliminate it from the list of problems.

Prepare the Problem Analysis Chart listing down the far left column the three priority problems identified by each of the different groups in the Pairwise Ranking Matrix. In the second column, list the causes of the problems as identified in the Flow Charts. Present the Problem Analysis Chart to the entire meeting. Explain which groups identified which problems and point out where priorities overlap. For each problem, present the causes identified. Ask if anyone, including the outside experts, has anything to add. Then ask people to explain what they currently do to cope with their problems. List the coping strategies in the third column. Finally, with specific reference to each problem discuss opportunities for development asking both the local community members and outside experts to contribute their ideas. Build upon the solutions identified in the Flow Diagrams. List the solutions in the fourth column.

Farming Systems Diagram

PURPOSE: The Farming Systems Diagram is used to understand how rural household livelihoods are assembled. It is a diagram designed to highlight the farming system, including on-farm activities such as crop production, off-farm activities such as fuel collection, and non-farm activities such as marketing. The diagram shows the flow of resources to and from the household, who is involved by gender, over all locations and seasons. It helps capture the full range of household activities showing the complexity of the livelihood system. They also often show how livelihoods may depend on many different types of agro-ecosystems - many of which may be common property resources such as forests, grazing lands, rivers and streams. Farming systems diagrams can also illustrate that women and men each have specialised knowledge about particular crops, animals or tree products -knowledge that can be built upon for development.

PROCESS: Select two households from each of the socio-economic groups identified in the Social Map. Visit each household individually.

After courteous introductions, inform the family that you want to learn about their farming activities (no need to mention mapping at this point). Ask the women and men in the household to walk with you through their farm. This helps people feel at ease as it allows household members to show their knowledge. Do not forget to cover the housing area and common property areas. As you walk along ask questions about the activities and resources you see. Do not forget to ask about what happens in other seasons and in places too far to visit.

After about 30 to 40 minutes walking, gather together as many household members as possible -men, women, children - for discussions about what you have seen and talked about. Then stop and suggest to the family that the information they are providing is too much to keep in your head and is better recorded by drawing the information on a piece of paper. Continue the discussion but ask those present to help you make the drawing. As soon as you can let the family take over the drawing. Soon you may just be asking questions and listening.

With this tool, you want to learn the typical or the general circumstance. Concentrate on getting an overview of the whole system, without excessive detail.

As the household members progress with the drawing, use the SEAGA questions to explore the labour and resource flows in the farming system. Be sure that the diagram shows roles and responsibilities by gender, and age and household position (head, husband, first wife, and sister), if appropriate.

Daily Activity Clocks

PURPOSE: Daily Activity Clocks illustrate all the different kinds of activities carried out in one day. They are particularly useful for looking at relative workloads between different groups of people in the community, e.g. women, men, rich, poor, young and old. Comparisons between Daily Activity Clocks show who works the longest hours, who concentrates on a small number of activities and who must divide their time for a multitude of activities, and who has the most leisure time and sleep. They can also illustrate seasonal variations.

PROCESS: Organise separated focus groups of women and men. Be sure that each group includes people from the different socio-economic groups. Explain that you would like to learn about what they do in a typical day. Ask the groups of women and men each to produce their own clocks. They should first focus on the activities of the previous day. A picture of all the activities carried out at different times, and how long they took, should be drafted. Plot each activity on a circular pie chart (to look like a clock). Activities that were carried out simultaneously, such as child-care and gardening, should be noted.

When the clocks are completed, ask questions about the activities shown. Ask whether yesterday was typical for the time of year. Note the present season, e.g. wet, and then ask the same participants to produce new clocks to represent a typical day in the other season, e.g. dry. Compare.

One of the best (and often entertaining) ways to introduce the Daily Activity Clock tool is to start by showing what your own day looks like. Draw a big circle on paper and indicate what time you wake up, what time you go to work, when you care for your children, and so forth. There is no need to go into great detail, but it is important to illustrate that all kinds of activities are included such as agriculture work, wage labour, child care, cooking, sleep, etc.

Seasonal Calendars

PURPOSE: Seasonal Calendars are tools that help us to explore changes in livelihood systems taking place over the period of a year. They can be useful in counteracting time biases because they are used to find out what happens in different seasons. Otherwise, there is a tendency to discuss only what is happening during the time that the RA is taking place.

Calendars can be used to study many things such as how much work people have at different times of year or how their incomes change in different periods. It can also be used to show the seasonality of other important aspects of livelihoods such as food and water availability.

PROCESS: Work with a group of women and one of men that produced the Daily Activity Clocks. Explain that this time you want to learn about what people do in a year.

Find a large open space for each group. Calendars can be drawn on a large paper or can be traced in the sand or on a dirt floor using stones or leaves for quantification. Draw a line all the way across the top of the cleared space (or paper). Explain that the line represents a year - and ask how people divide the year, i.e. months, seasons, etc. The scale to use is the one that makes the most sense to the participants. Ask the participants to mark the seasonal divisions along the top of the line. It is usually easiest to start the calendar by asking about rainfall patterns. Ask their to put stones under each month (or other division) of the calendar to represent relative amounts of rainfall (more stones equal more rain).

Once the rainfall calendar is finished, you can draw another line under it and ask participants to make another calendar, this time showing their labour for agriculture (putting more stones over the time-periods of high labour intensity). Make sure the labour calendar, and subsequent calendars, is perfectly aligned with the rainfall calendar.

This process is repeated, one calendar under another, until all the seasonal issues of interest are covered. Be sure that calendars include those for food availability, water availability, income sources and expenditures. Ask the participants to put a symbol or sign next to each calendar to indicate the topic. As much as possible, ask their also to describe the sources of food and income, etc.

Other issues may be added according to the needs and interests of the participants, such as animal diseases, fodder collection, fishing seasons, marketing opportunities, health problems and so on.

Benefits Analysis Flow Chart

PURPOSE: The Benefits Analysis Flow Chart is a tool that helps us to understand what the "fruits" of people's livelihood activities are, and who enjoys them. It builds upon the information learned in the Farming Systems Maps.

Livelihood activities and resources generally result in products and by-products - what we call benefits. For example, the benefits of growing a tree may include fruit, fodder, fuel-wood, lumber, bark and poles. The benefits resulting from growing maize may include food, oil, fuel, fencing and animal feed. The Benefits Analysis Flowchart shows who uses each of these products, and who decides how each is used and who controls the money if sold.

PROCESS: Make a return visit to each of the families that produced the Farming Systems Diagram (scheduled at a convenient time discussed at the end of your first visit). Arrive with a set of index cards (a different set for each family) already prepared based on the information about resources revealed during discussions of the Farming Systems Diagram.

Each card should represent a resource or a product or by-product (benefit) of the family's various livelihood activities. For example, poultry production may result not only in eggs and meat for consumption, but also eggs for sale, meat for sale, feathers, fertiliser and gifts for special occasions. Each of these would be shown on a separate card. Bring along a number of blank cards as well as the Farming Systems Diagram.

Give out a few of the prepared cards at a time to the adult family members. They pass the cards around taking turns looking at them. Ask them to describe who in the family uses the products, how it is used, who decides how it should be used and who controls the money if sold. If a family member does not know much about a particular product, he or she passes the card to the person who does. Additional information is sought from other household members.

Use the blank cards for adding other products and by-products as they come up in the discussion. Refer back to the Farming Systems Diagram as needed.

This tool is an opportunity to explore in a lively yet detailed manner the fundamental economic issues of livelihoods. Issues that arise can be explored further through direct observation and semi-structured interviews.

Income and Expenditure Matrices

PURPOSE: Income and Expenditure Matrices are used to understand sources of income and sources of expenditures. This tool can also reveal changes in expenditures in times of crisis. By quantifying the relative importance of different sources of income for different people, including both women and men from each social group, we can understand the security or vulnerability of different people's livelihoods, their priorities and limitations. It is important to see if all, most or only some of their total income is spent to meet basic needs. Do people have any money left or savings to invest in their livelihoods (e.g. animal vaccines or fertiliser) after meeting their basic needs?

PROCESS: Organise two or three new focus groups, mixing up socio-economic groups, men and women, young and old, etc. Work with each group separately. Explain that you want to learn about from where they make money and on what they spend it. Begin by asking the group to list their sources of income. Start drawing the matrix by indicating each source of income across the horizontal axis. The group may want to select pictures or symbols to represent each category. Collect 50 stones (ask the children for help). Explain that these stones represent the total income for the whole community for the year. Ask the participants to divide the stones according to their wealth/income, with one person representing each socio-economic group having a proportion of the 50 stones, as discussed and agreed upon by the group as a whole.

The vertical axis may include a representative for rich women, poor women, rich men, poor men, etc. Each in turn is asked to distribute their stones in the matrix to indicate their sources of income. Many stones are placed under major sources of income, few stones under minor sources of income, and no stones at all if they make no money from that particular source. This is carried out, in discussion with their fellow participants, until all the stones are distributed. Record the matrix - counting all the stones for each source of income for each socio-economic group. Now ask the participants to list all their expenditures, including savings. Change the horizontal axis of the matrix to represent each category of expense. Repeat the process accordingly. Record the matrix. Finally, create a relevant crisis (armyworm, drought) and ask each representative to remove several stones from the matrix to show where they would find the money to cope.

Discuss the impact of crisis and the coping strategies of the different participants. Record from where the stones were taken to cope with crisis (e.g. school fees, clothing, and food). Discussing incomes and expenditures can be highly sensitive, particularly as participants are required to agree on how many stones each representative for each socio-economic group should have This tool tends to work because amounts are not discussed, only sources.

Resource Picture Cards

PURPOSE: Resource Picture Cards are used to learn about the gender-based use and control of resources within the household. Variation among the different socio-economic groups is included. Gender roles are an important aspect of the ways that resources are managed and decisions made. It is particularly useful for facilitating frank discussions about a sensitive issue in a fun and non-threatening way. The resource-base of both women and men is shown in a visually clear manner, leading well to discussions about priorities and resource needs for development action plans. Who in a household has access to resources such as land, livestock and food? Who makes decisions about the use of resources? Understanding the answers to these questions helps us to understand who is likely to lose and who is likely to gain because of a particular development activity.

PROCESS: Work with the same focus groups of women and men that produced the Daily Activity Clocks and Seasonal Calendars. Explain that this time you want to learn about resource use and control.

Place the three large drawings, one of a man, one of a woman, and one of a man and woman together in a row with adequate room between them. Underneath these drawings scatter the 20 or so smaller cards, each picturing a different resource, at random. Include some blank cards so that they can add resources. Ask them to sort the cards by placing them under the three large drawings, depending on who uses the resource, whether women, men or both. Facilitate the discussion among the participants about why they made the choices they did. Place the second set of drawings and cards on the ground, close to the first set. Repeat the exercise but this time focus on who has control, ownership or decision-making power concerning each resource. Again, facilitate the discussion among the participants about why they made the choices they did. Ask them to compare the way they have arranged the two sets of Cards. Repeat with other groups, as necessary, and compare.

This tool quickly generates a lot of discussion as people try to decide where to place a resource picture, whether under the drawing for women, men or both. Specify that only the resources used or controlled 50-50% by women and men are to be placed under the drawing of both. Otherwise, the pictures should be placed under either the woman or the man to indicate who has majority use or control. In their discussions, the participants will reach consensus about what each picture card stands for. For example, they may decide that the picture of baskets represents baskets for sale or baskets of stored grain. Pictures of resources that are not relevant should be tossed out. The blank cards should be used to add relevant resources not already shown. There will be some variation among the different socio-economic groups and these should be noted.

Preliminary Community Action Plan

PURPOSE: Preliminary Community Action Plans are used to investigate the resources required for implementation of the opportunities identified in the last column of the Problem Analysis Chart. This implies the groups (both local and external) that would be involved when implementation starts. It helps people to take realistic and concrete steps toward participatory development planning. This tool increases awareness about the skills and resources already available in the community.

PROCESS: Organise a meeting for the entire community preferably on the same day as the meeting held to produce the Problem Analysis Chart (perhaps after a long lunch shared by all participants). Make sure both women and men can attend, including a mix of socio-economic groups. Invite the technical experts from outside agencies and organisations to attend this meeting.

For each priority problem, assign Activities, based on each of the opportunities for development revealed in the Problem Analysis Chart. Ask about the resources required for implementation of each activity. Be sure that all of the resources needed are listed in the next column, including land, water, labour, inputs, training, etc. Ask which resources are already available in the community and which should come from outside. List the groups that would be involved in implementation of each activity. It is important to look back at the Venn Diagram and Institutional Profiles. What are the local groups and organisations that can assist? What are the external organisations and agencies that can assist? Where external agencies are identified, try to identify a local group as well. It is an opportunity to form partnerships! Ask the participants to roughly estimate when the work for each specific development activity could start. Make sure that seasonal patterns of climate and labour are taken into consideration (see Seasonal Calendars).

Be sure that everyone understands that the Preliminary Community Action Plan is not the final plan for development activities. It is a preliminary plan. Decisions about what is actually feasible to implement will be made using the tools that follow.

Options Assessment Chart and Best Bets Action Plan

PURPOSE: Options Assessment Charts and Best Bets Actions Plans are used to make concrete and realistic plans for implementation of priority activities. It is the final tool in the participatory planning process as outlined here. It builds directly upon the Preliminary Community Action Plan, but focuses on the activities most likely to succeed, due to consensus and availability of resources as identified through a Venn Diagram of Stakeholders and Stakeholders Conflict and Partnership Matrix.

To produce the Best Bets Action Plans, partnerships between different stakeholders who share common interests is encouraged, but where interests are not shared, each group has the opportunity to produce their own plans nonetheless.

PROCESS: Organise all community participants into focus groups based on shared priorities. Where women and men share a priority, they will produce a Best Bets Action Plan together. Where they have different priorities, they will each produce their own plans. The same applies for the different socio-economic groups.

Explain that the purpose of the Best Bets Action Plan is to refine and finalise ideas from the Preliminary Community Action Plan, incorporating the learnings from the stakeholder analysis. The idea is to produce plans that are as realistic and detailed as possible.

In columns list in order: Group priority Problems, Solutions, Activities, Players and Costs. Are there activities that must be changed or groups that must be added? Ask the participants first, to identify local contributions, and second, to identify where external resources may be required. Ask them when each activity could start how long each should take?

It is very important that participants be encouraged to be as realistic, concrete and detailed as possible for this tool. The more realistic the action plans are the more likely they are to be implemented. Be very clear about the probabilities of outside assistance for implementation. Are there development agencies or organisations ready to provide assistance to activities identified by the community members?

Question Tank

Village Social Maps

Trend Lines

Venn Diagrams

Pairwise Ranking

Flow Diagram

Problem Analysis Chart

Farming Systems Diagram

Seasonal Calendar

Daily Activity Clocks

Benefits Analysis Flow Chart

Incomes and Expenditures Matrix

Picture Resource Cards

Preliminary Community Action Plan

Options Assessment Chart and Best Bets Action Plan

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