Save the Children Methodology

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Save the Children’s Community Action Cycle

The Community Action Cycle (CAC) is a proven community mobilization approach which fosters individual and collective action to address key health program goals and related outcomes. Applied to improved health outcomes the CAC works to increase access to and demand for health services, especially where gender and other socio-cultural barriers exist. Save the Children’s CAC approach, used successfully around the world, fosters individual and collective action for sustained community participation in achieving health outcomes.

The CAC approach fosters a community-lead process through which those most affected by and interested organize, explore, set priorities, plan and act collectively for improved health. Phases in the CAC include preparing to mobilize; organizing for action; exploring the issues affecting access and demand for health and setting priorities; planning together, acting together, evaluating together, and “scaling up” successful efforts. Each Phase of the CAC has a series of related steps which guide communities and facilitating partners. As applied to health each phase and its related steps will lead to greater community ownership and sustained collective action after the end of project through the capacity-building of community groups.

By working through the CAC cycle communities and individuals will identify the socio-cultural barriers/enhancer, resources, risk factors, especially for those most marginalized, to access health services and begin to work towards positive change. They will also identify bottlenecks to accessing services—and will link with internal and external partners to address these barriers. The CAC approach recognizes that people do not change their behaviour based on information alone; it is a combination of having the information as well as the confidence and enabling environment to make positive choices, collectively and individually, while addressing underlying social norms that ultimately leads to changed behaviours.

Through the application of the CAC by multiple partners at community, district and provincial levels, community mobilization as an empowering approach to social change will:

  • Increase community level decision-making required by decentralization and democratization 
  • Address the different needs, problem, assets, beliefs and practices of diverse communities through greater ownership and understanding  
  • Build mechanisms and systems through which communities can sustain an enabling environment for social change, and link effectively with education and economic systems to support themselves 
  • Bring additional resources that may not be available through from government or donors Apply political pressure to improve quality of health services
  • Change social structures and norms in order for those most affected, especially for women and those most marginalized groups.

For a more detailed look into Save the Children’s CAC and its associated phases/steps click here

Also please view the following attachments to learn more about their measuring community capacity work:

Community Mobilization for Development– Power Point Overview of Save’s community mobilization approach based on a community capacity strengthening process

MCC for Better Health and Social Outcomes by SCUS -paper on our measuring community capacity work.

GMNC – Measuring Community Capacity – Concurrent Session – Overview of some of the indicators and measurement work presented at the Global Maternal and Newborn Health Conference last October.

Oxfam’s Female Food Hero from Nigeria: A Change-Maker in Her Community

It’s about shifting the mindset…medium and small scale farming can generate income.“- 2014 Female Food Hero Monica Maigari from Kaduna State, Nigeria 

Last week  Oxfam America hosted a Brown Bag Lunch, which couldn’t have came at a better time as it was a day after International Women’s Day 2016, to share their Female Food Hero(FFH) Contest . The FFH Contest recognizes the achievement of rural women who are small stakeholder farmers and is evidence of how providing a platform for  women to be agents of change can benefit entire communities. Oxfam America had special guest Monica Maigari, one of the 2014 FFH winners in Nigeria,  to speak on her experience.  

Pictured: (L) Monica Maigari, 2014 Female Food Hero in Nigeria    (R) Manre Chirtau, Organizer of Female Food Hero Initiative in Nigeria

With the recognition as a Female Food Hero many women in Maigari’s community respected her, counted on her to be the voice of the community, and depended on her to shed light on the challenges they faced. In Nigeria where the population is 184 million people , women account for 60-79% of the workforce agriculture, but only 7.2% them own land, according to a representative from  the Female Food Hero initiative in Nigeria.

Maigari mentioned that because women are denied many land rights they have to give money or part of their harvest to use the land. This limits economic freedom for women and disproportionately undermines women’s position as the main producers of  agriculture in Nigeria.  Because of her recognition as a Female Food Hero, she has gained respect and was sent to  speak with the chief of her province advocating for her community on issues such as land-tenure rights for women. 

Oxfam is a partner  in the Movement for Community-led Development , a coalition of organizations that believe in a  gender-focused, transformative process that “empowers citizens and local authorities to transform entrenched patriarchal mindsets and take effective action.”  Oxfam’s initiatives like the FFH contest is addressing the patriarchal mindset that challenges rural women farmers and harnesses their empowerment as key change agents in communities to take action.   

As a benefit of being a Female Food Hero, Maigari  was awarded a cash prize of 200,000 Nigerian Naira (NGN), which enabled her to purchase two hectares of land to farm -which is not an easy feat for  women in Nigeria.  She also uses her land to benefit the community by allowing the land to be used as an “experiment” lab to see which crops or farming strategies work well.

The process of selecting the Female Food Hero was a national-wide effort where across Nigeria female farmers were were able to send in over 3000+ nominations ,and after a screening of the nominees, 12 finalist were selected. As one of the 12 finalists,  Magari participated in a week long of events receiving training and information surrounding women and farming, meeting other industry professionals,  and other women farmers alike. She mentioned that she is going back home and sharing the trainings received through a cooperative she has helped form.  

Monica Maigari says, “It’s important that women teach women because they listen to themselves. A man  just cant go to a women and teach, they will not accept it. Women come and they will listen. Man don’t have the patience.Women will have patience to demonstrate correctly [to other women].”

When Maigari asked what was the most important advice on replicating initiatives like the FFH contest she said the trainings should give more attention to labor saving strategies.”We need drought resistance seeds and [other technologies] that makes agriculture easier for women so they can balance [work and home duties].

By engaging women as key change agents and rethinking the power of community , long-lasting sustainable development can occur to make the dream  of living in a food-secure word without poverty a reality. However, another caveat to making that dream a reality  is recognizing the important role of women as key stakeholders in these issues. 

To view the full trailer of the Female Food Hero Initiative in Nigeria please click here



Building the Capacity of Youth as Leaders of Today -The Kampala Principles for Youth Led Development

Jon-Andreas Solberg and Douglas Ragan co-authored a very enlightening  post on UN-Habitat Youth covering five principles of youth-led development that are being utilized by youth programs globally and has begun to influence policy at the local, national and global level. These principles (listed below) originated from an initiative started in 2007 when representatives from  UN-Habitat´s One Stop Youth Resource Centres gathered together in Kampala, Uganda to discuss ways to promote and sustain the capacity for youth to operate as leaders today. The post leads to the key point that youthshould be recognized as key development partners and asset and rights-holders, just as anyone else, young and old, women and men.” 

Kampala Principles for Youth-led Development:

  1.        Youth define their own development goals and objectives;
  2.        Youth have a safe and generative physical space;
  3.        Adult and peer-to-peer mentorship;
  4.        Youth act as role models for other youth;
  5.        Youth are integrated into local and national development programs and     policies.

The full article, including a detailed look at each principle, can be found here.