Practicing CLD: A Training on How to Use the Participatory CLD Assessment Tool

By Janet Kassim, Intern at the Movement for Community-led Development

On Tuesday, May 25th, 2021 at 8 AM EDT, a group of about 26 chapter members, program designers, and program implementers from different organizations, time zones, countries, and continents connected virtually on Zoom for MCLD’s first official training on the Participatory CLD Assessment tool organized by the Malawi Chapter of the Movement. The diversity of the group in terms of areas of work and focus notwithstanding a common goal had brought all of us together; our strong belief in community-led development.

The purpose of this event was to train professionals and organizations on how to use the Participatory CLD Assessment tool in a participatory manner to assess how “community-led” their programs are and to strengthen their capacities and programming. While the tool can be very “technical” to use, it was a privilege to learn from a group of wonderful professionals from the Movement who collaborated to create the tool over the past two years. The training was divided into four sessions. We started by talking about what community-led development  (CLD) is and what it is not. Early in the training, we participated in a quick poll on what comes to mind when we think of CLD, and it was fascinating to see in the word cloud, terms that truly represented CLD. My words were Inclusion and Participation. What are yours?

Moving on, our facilitators – Gunjan Veda (MCLD), Elene Cloete (Outreach International), and Nelly Mecklenburg (Institute for State Effectiveness)-  introduced the tool to prepare us for the next segment of the training, which was perhaps one of the most important sessions of the day. We broke into groups to get to know the tool and practice using it. Each group had a trained facilitator to take the group through discussing the questions based on the case study provided to them ahead of the event. Among these facilitators were Sothin Ziba and Gertrude Ng’oma from MCLD, Malawi. My group was engaging and interactive. Being the author of the case study used in the training, it was interesting to hear all the different perspectives that even I did not think of or might have missed. For instance, I wrote the case study believing that I had intentionally made the use of local resources and knowledge a stronger part of the program. Yet, after deliberating together with the group, I gave it a lower score than I would have in the absence of the discussion. Indeed, these different perspectives underscored for me the importance of the participatory process that underpins this tool – something our trainers kept repeating throughout the three hour session. 

Finally, while we did not all score the case study equally, it was an incredible learning opportunity and I look forward to seeing how this CLD tool will change the face of programs in different organizations across the globe after they have gone through this training.