NGO workshop on application of SALT technique in community based intervention

NGO workshop on application of SALT technique in community based intervention

A three day workshop on the introduction and application of SALT technique was conducted for NGO partners in Kolkata, West Bengal, India. The participants were from two NGOs; Bhoruka and HDRI both working as partners in the EMPHASIS project in India.

The objective was to

· Understand the status of mapping at both destination and transit areas

· Understand the community centered SALT technique

· Apply the SALT technique in the program areas to help the mapping process

· Share and have a common understanding on community interaction process following the bottom to top approach

Day I


The day started with a very informal and simple approach so that the participants get to feel the new technique in their own pace. As we have the practice of interacting with communities with specific deliverables in mind, with a very quantitative short time output in mind we get lesser time and opportunity to understand the communities need and priority at times. SALT is technique which gives the community appropriate time and opportunity to listen, think, prioritize and then participate.

Md. Rafique made us understand the manner of introducing ourselves to the community. Initially he had an interaction with the partners on the problems faced by them in the field, while doing the mapping exercise. Then he tried to open up further discussion as to why the community’s feedback and participation is lowest when we try to ask and discuss something that the community either avoids or feels less interested. One must understand the community first and be one of them before putting down our agenda. He presented a few slides on community competence and SALT technique & explained how this can be applied at the community level

He also explained the relation between knowledge and experience that might not match in several cases. It was also discussed how a community’s interest can be generated on any issue by identifying their strengths, appreciating them, learning from them and at last sharing them to transfer knowledge. After lunch we had a session on identifying one’s own strengths and dreams. Then everybody was asked to find a match between the two and how one can utilize the strengths to fulfill ones dreams. First we need to practice it by ourselves and then we can apply it in the community for understanding them in a better way.

After this Rafique presented a slide explaining the differential approach between Targeted Intervention and Community approach, everyone realized how we have been prescribing things for the community, which can to a great extent be made to come from the community itself if we apply SALT.

An interesting issue that came up was that, what can be done when the community comes up with their own agenda to which we can neither promise anything nor can we act accordingly as we all are tied to only what our funding agencies require and thus at time we are forced to limit our movement within the boundary fixed by Funders. To such a dilemma it was informally discussed that as communities tries to press their demands and concerns we need to listen to them with interest and then try to find out solutions from among them, which in turn can become sustainable and also would help the community to realize their potential best.

After lunch just to have a feel of the SALT technique all the participants were asked to mention two of their strengths, with a dream each. The response was over whelming as they came up with something very close to their heart and not in line with the program.

The strengths identified were as follows:

1. To advocate for rights and disseminate in the right forum

2. Come out in the front and express independently

3. Writing poems

4. Documentation of all events in life

5. Reading books

6. Play chess

7. To build rapport with anybody in any situation

8. Document anything

9. Adventure sports, trekking, travelling

10. Can easily be one of the community

11. Likes reading geography

12. Travelling

13. Loves to play football show ones skills in it

14. Always convenient in expressing ones thought without any hesitation

15. Writing and typing skills

16. One to one contact with people

17. Net surfing

18. Playing badminton

19. Listen to old melodies of Kishore Kumar

20. Easily mixes up with others

21. Loves to coach and train

22. Listening to Rabindra Sangeet

23. Belief in GOD

24. Can keep patience to the extreme level

25. Is meticulous in everything

26. Strong determination

The personal dreams were as follows

1. To build a school and help students who are unable to study on their own

2. To live in a world free of terrorism

3. To help and assist old parents who are deserted by their children

4. To be famous computer designer

5. To be a primary teacher

6. To impart good and proper education to my child

7. To visit all places in India

8. To take journalism as profession

9. To intervene and work for the individuals who have been exploited

10. To keep my mom in peace and harmony

11. Everyone in the world utilizes every ones knowledge

12. To see that MDGs are implemented in time

13. To build up a small house and live happily with mom and wife

As they finished up with their discussion on strengths and dreams they were asked about how they would use their strengths to fulfill their dreams. The particular session was carried out with the intention of helping participants to understand how one can help others to use ones inner strength to fulfill ones aspirations. The same can be applied in the community to help the community people to realize their inner potential and strengths, which can be applied to solve their own issues at their level.


We planned to apply SALT and ask ourselves four questions after each event

1. What was supposed to happen?

2. What actually happened?

3. Why the difference?

4. How will we do it differently next time? Did we practice SALT?

Day II

Three interactive sessions with the community were organized in which the newly learned SALT technique was applied. The first session was held in the Transit point at Petrapole from where actual movement of Bangladeshis take place. The second session was conducted in Boaldah, a transit point (Petrapole, a place bordering India and Bangladesh). The third session was tested in the DESTINATION Point (Ultadanga, a place in the heart of the “City of Joy” Kolkata).

The first session was among three people directly or indirectly associated with the migration of Bangladeshis to India. The second interaction was among the villagers of a place called Boaldah in the Indian side of the international border. The third interaction was among the slum dwellers in the heart of the city of Kolkata, majority of whom have migrated from Bangladesh.

After Action Review of the Community Interactions

What was supposed to happen?

· Identification of the Bangladeshi mobile population

· Knowledge about the nature of movement of Bangladeshis through the transit points and the lifestyle of the mobile population

· To have a taste of the newly learned SALT technique

· We wanted to identify the strengths the community possess and the nature of problems they encounter with in their daily lives

What actually happened?

· We came to know about the community and the social problems they encounter with everyday

· The SALT technique could not be fully applied as several sub groups got automatically created that hampered the process of discussion.

· Discussion on concerns and problems faced by the residents of the border areas was done. The issues are related to atrocities induced by BSF, livelihood concerns, daily curfew in the border after 7.00 pm, communication problem etc.

· We even had the opportunity to appreciate their strengths

Why the difference?

· The stigma associated with Bangladeshi migration in India did not allow us to meet the Bangladeshis, who have migrated recently

· We were not very successful in trying out the SALT as the community members could not give us ample time as they had other engagements and that was their peak hours for work.

· We could not discuss everything as we were strangers to them and as migration is s sensitive issue they had hesitations.

How will you do it differently next time?

· Next time we will fix the time of interaction that matches with their time of availability

· Next time we will try to engage them more deeply

· We will try to understand their issues first and then go on with other points of discussion

· Next time we might try to create subgroups if the situation demands.

· Next time we will plan things very systematically among ourselves having a good clarity as regards the role of all team members are concerned

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Comment by Dr. E. Mohamed Rafique on June 7, 2010 at 9:34am
Dear All,

Sorry, for not chipping in earlier.

I like Gaston's tip of doing the first question of the AAR before the visit. We do it subconciously, like sending out the agenda by e-mail before an event, visit, meeting and so on., but never discuss the detials and nuances of the plan, beforehand. Again, this comes from the Targeted Intervention mode, where we take the community for granted.

One thing that CLCP teaches is that we must never take the community for granted. For every community is different.

Rather than direct the community's vision as we have been doing in the Targeted Intervention mode, I am sure your suggestion Gaston, will helps us best to 'accompany the community in their own process towards Competence'.

With best regards,
Comment by Anupam Das on June 5, 2010 at 7:05pm
Thanks a lot Gaston for sharing your interesting experiences with the community. You are very right in sayng that at times rather most of the times we find it difficult how to accompany the community in their own process towards competence. The thrill is that at the first few minutes we can try to understand the pulse of the community by helping them to express spontaneously. We usually find that communities are inquisitive, expressive, complaining nature, confused, excited on any particular issue, revolting, etc. and so on. If we can catch their initial spontaneous reaction we will be able to find our entry point to the labyrinth (the diverse community). This can help us to accompany the community in their own process and then slowly we can proceed towards Competence.
Comment by Gaston on June 4, 2010 at 7:57am
Anupam - wonderful blog and I really got a feel of the visit. AAR was short and to the point, which is good. We keep on learning. We learn more and more that our 'planning' is different than from what really happens. And this is fine. I've learned that we shouldn't get attached to our agenda. I remember I once did a visit in Southern India where we thought we would really do dreambuilding. However, the community wasn't interested in that. They wanted accompaniment for their action plan already. They were further than we thought.The question is how we can best accompany the community in their own process towards Competence.

One last experience I want to share: In DR-Congo the facilitation teams do the first question of the AAR before the visit. Then it won't be biased due to the experience and you can go straight to question nr 2 afterwards.

Keep the wonderful work going!
Comment by Anupam Das on June 1, 2010 at 10:12am
Thanks Rituu for your insight into the most debated agenda of today whether we are becoming more prescriptive for the community in dealing with developmental issues or not. Targeted interventions have always prescribed program components that have been designed my program managers in a very generalised manner and applied as a general prescription for all irrespective of individual and regioanl choices and preferences. ACP is quite a natural toll for understanding the individual and regional diversities in their own context.

I shall be sharing more interesting such points of difference within a few days
Comment by Laurence Gilliot on June 1, 2010 at 8:54am
Hi Anupam,

Thanks for sharing! Amazing picture, I love it. I like it because it looks like a very natural setting, where people get together in small groups to chat and get to know each other. This was your first SALT visit in that community so it is not bad to have an unstructured setting where people connect in an organic way. You build relationship and trust. You connect as human beings. Then during your next visit, you can consider going deeper into certain strengths or concerns...

I like the idea of sharing our personal dream and how we are going to use our strengths to reach that dream. I have never done this before and I will try it out as soon as I can!

Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on May 31, 2010 at 8:35pm
Dear Anupam,

Thanks for this very well presented blog. You have given a glimpse of how ACP can supplement Targeted intervention with migrants. Request you to elaborate on it. Would like to learn more on this.

Best wishes,



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