To measure the effectiveness of the BRACED programme in building the resilience of community groups in Ethiopia and Burkina Faso, it was important to measure success against locally relevant and valid indicators.
Traditionally, measures of progress are pre-determined externally but in the BRACED programme in Ethiopia and Burkina Faso, these were largely set by communities themselves.
To find out what resilience looks like from as wide a range of perspectives as possible, discussions were held with community groups representing a broad cross-section of situations.
It was crucial to gain the different perspectives of agricultural and nomadic pastoralist communities, women and men, young and older people, communities from dry and wetter climatic zones, and people with higher and lower incomes, amongst others.
The first stage of this process was to establish language and terminology that could be understood by all beneficiaries. The word ‘resilience’ for example, has no direct translation in many languages, so it was vital to identify equivalent terms that made sense in context.
The process went on to identify the attributes key to resilience in the eyes of the different community groups. Who highlighted factors such as wealth, wellbeing, women’s empowerment and access to information. Indicators for each attribute were then discussed.
These indicators were often seen as ‘thresholds’ above or below which people or households might be viewed as having resilience in that area. They also looked at them as ‘levels’, which if achieved, might contribute to resilience.
For example, groups agreed on the level of savings needed to provide safety through periods of shortage. This can differ across communities, as some regions are faced with longer ‘hunger’ periods than others.
Looking at thresholds at which something might contribute to resilience, farmers and herders listed factors such as the ability to receive long-range weather forecasts, and information on the likelihood of drought in the coming year. Communities agreed that such early warning systems meant they could prepare and so have more chance of protecting their lives and livelihoods.
This type of information was used to set context-specific questions. Households’ answers to these indicate whether they are at, below or above the resilience thresholds
Once produced, survey findings were discussed with communities as the final stage in the process of assessing success in building climate resilience against the standards set by the beneficiaries themselves.
It aimed to verify that the assumptions in the findings resonated with the communities and to get their feedback on how the approach could be improved in future.