Dear Friends,

We have in the last three weeks begun introducing CLC and ACP in the EMPHASIS project of CARE India. The difference is that SALT visits in CARE show how SALT can be used to achieve CARE's + Community's objectives, dreams and so on...Moreover, it is useful as a tool for impressing on other International NGO's that you need no additional investment, and you get better returns on your own indicators, if you practice SALT. Finally, the field teams have vowed, that henceforth they will do everything that they would have to do in their project only by SALT. Accordingly, I present here the After Action Review of the first SALT visit that we made:

The After Action Review of Day 1

What was supposed to happen?

We hoped that there would be a community of Nepali people waiting to meet the field visit team and share their issues, experiences, and expectations from the program. The field visit team also hoped to validate the guess estimates made earlier about the total Nepali population in Indra Vikas Colony. The Field team also sought to get approximate disaggregated data by age, source, and duration of stay for the Nepali population in Indra Vikas Colony,

What actually happened?

The field visit team found that there were two types of community settlements. On one side of the main road were urban one-room tenement housing. These were rundown, low-rental apartment building with hardly any facilities or maintenance. Therefore, the team could not have a meeting place. Consequently, the meeting was a free-wheeling one, with Nepalis dropping in, sharing a point or two, and then leaving. Subsequently, new Nepali men or women would join, the conversation, and leave. This happened throughout the meeting. Thus, even though about twenty-five Nepalis would have contributed at least once during the entire meeting, at any point of time there were not more than six of them present, due to constraints of space.

The other was the slum population. Here the Nepali population was dispersed. Moreover, one Nepali slum resident did not have any information about where the next Nepali slum resident was. This was a dead-end for our snow balling technique, forcing the team to think up new methods of estimating such type of dispersed an d unknown Nepali population in slums

Why were there differences?

The field visit team did not have information regarding the two types of housing in Indra Vikas Colony, both of which were not conducive for holding a community meeting. People did not have information about any other Nepali, if the others were outside their vicinity. Even those in the joint tenement housing the sixty-odd residents of one building who were aware that there were similar buildings fully occupied by Nepalis, could not provide any further information about their Nepali country men.

What can we learn from this?

We learnt that there is a difference between the attitudes and behaviours of the Nepalis living in the tenement housing together and those living dispersed in the slums. While those in the tenement housing were united among their immediate neighbours, with the unity and familiarity established within the building, those in the slums were living in comparative anonymity.

*****

Download the whole four-day report: Nepalis in Delhi estimate in four days.doc

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Comment by Gaston on May 20, 2010 at 9:20am
Thank you Rafique. Very useful response that answers my question.
Comment by Dr. E. Mohamed Rafique on May 20, 2010 at 8:36am
Dear Gaston,

I agree with you that there is a distinction between the practices that lead to AIDS Competence and activities that lead to improvement on these practices. Also, I agree that establishing and running the DIC is an activity that leads to improvement of one or more practices on the self-assessment on AIDS Competence.

The DIC was there as our agenda, and we were wondering how to make it come from the community. When we did our first SALT visits to the community and the minor dream sessions, the community wanted to form an association so that members in the association would help each other in getting jobs, as unemployment was high and income if employed was low among the Nepali mobile population.

Thus, we were able to introduce in the community the snow balling technique as Nepalis did not want to identify themselves as Nepalis in India, because of its attendant discrimination. When the community members had started this, they wanted a place for recreation, for the members of the association and also to meet. Thus, what we had in our agenda, also came out without our disclosure from the community.

We are bouyed by the initial success of SALT approach in the various communities that we work with that we will certainly use the SALT approach and self-assessment to manage the implementation of what our funding agencies want us to do along with the action of the community, which is the local response.

All, it requires is timing.
Comment by Anupam Das on May 18, 2010 at 3:31pm
Generally development professionals are mostly bound and limited by various guidelines, protocols, rules of funding agencies. Whenever we make field visits we always have at the back of our mind about our intentions and our priorities. It is our project deliverables that we are most of the times bothered with, which should not be the case.
In this approach we have sweetly left the community wih them and tried to listen to them, their issues from their point of view. We interacted with the community with the motive of helping them to realise their own potential and use their own strength in solving their own problem.
The visit was quite interesting from the point that we discussed lot of things keeping our mind open to what we receive from them irrespective of what our project demands
Comment by moushumi kundu on May 18, 2010 at 2:43pm
Dear Rituu
Earlier to SALT visits, we used to have the typical TI (Targeted intervention) visits. We never used to talk about we are human beings, so we all are equal. Neither we used to talk about strength of community, their hopes, and dreams. Rather, used to discuss more about issues.
Comment by Gaston on May 18, 2010 at 11:28am
Moushumi, Rafique and others, many thanks for these insights. It provides the depth to this posting that really stimulates learning and transfer.

I have one reflection: There is a distinction between the practices that lead to AIDS Competence and activities that lead to improvement on these practices. For me, the DIC is an activity that leads to improvement of one or more practices on the self-assessment on AIDS Competence.

The next question I have to deepen my understanding is: Who came up with the idea of a Drop-in Centre (DIC) and what was the process to get to this?

For me the actual establishment of a DIC is a 'local response' if driven by the local community. It's actually a strategy for the community to improve on several practices towards AIDS/ Life Competence. I know an experience in DR-Congo where after the self-assessment, the community wanted to improve on 'access to treatment' and 'learning and transfer'. Establishing a DIC was their action. The facilitators in DR-Congo distinguish between 'small, feasible actions' that communities can do by themselves starting today, and 'large, mobilising actions' that require partnerships and support from outside. The DIC is a good example of the second kind of action. The next village had other priority practices and other actions. A DIC was not their priority at the moment.So I am wondering what was the process before deciding to establish a DIC?

It's really interesting to see that you use the approach and self-assessment to manage the implementation of the action or the local response.

Thanks again
Comment by Dr. E. Mohamed Rafique on May 15, 2010 at 7:52pm
Dear Joma,

I agree with you that it is the constant and continuous practice of SALT with patience and perseverance that helps us first to gain entry into a community. We then win their trust, once we begin introducing and practicing the shared equality between us and them. Next we proceed saying like all human beings everyone has some strengths, exploring which leads us and the community to dream. I feel till here one has to hand hold the community and use our utmost facilitation skills.

We did have our times of learning too. In one instance, our team became so enthusiastic to practise the "Stimulate" and "Appreciate" portions of SALT, so much so that our single SALT visit meeting in a remote village on the border of Bangladesh, automatically broke up into four subgroups, with each one talking to the dozen, and no one noting down the information that was gushing out from the respondents of the community. Not surprisingly, this dominated our subsequent After Action Review (AAR). Consequently, the next SALT visit saw only one person from the team speak to the community and anybody else wanting to speak getting the speaker's permission before doing so.

Thus, I feel with time any team will learn, adapt, and use successfully the techniques of SALT effectively in any community.

Anupam, I am sure can elaborate this experience, and compare it with the subsequent SALT visit in Kolkata city.
Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on May 15, 2010 at 7:14pm
Dear Rafique,

Thanks for this excellent illustration of how objectives of the organisation and the community can go hand-in hand.

I just had a question for Moushumi and Anupam. How was the SALT visit different from the traditional community visit? Thanks.

Rituu
Comment by Joma on May 15, 2010 at 6:47pm
This is a great experience and excellent effort. In this type of visit according to me, even a single positive action is also a great thing. The community have good potential and strength, as the ethnic background of the community is one, we can for-see a great connection could be made with the people in the other SLUM area, definitely we can experience a tremendous change here.

Looking into the Strength of the community more will make great differences in the life of the people, while also seeing the challenges they have. Dr.EMR I envy your team, for they will be encouraged to move forward to this community, as we experienced a soothing like breeze when we see SALT get success. JOMA Aizawl
Comment by Anupam Das on May 14, 2010 at 5:11pm
Frankly speaking I have never thought of this sort of community approach in case of setting up and running a DIC. Till date we had always tried to go by whatever the guidelines have said and the budget has permitted. Never thought of something that you have so nicely described. This is the best technique I can think of in setting up a DIC, the only thing that we need to take care of is the minimum requirements that's needed to set up one such DIC and help the community people to plan and set up one as per their local need.

In one word to induce sustainable community ownership, this is the most appropriate process to involve the community right from the stage of planning and designing to the stage of implementing and evaluating. This not only fosters ownership but also enhances the quality of service as per the community need. Probably the best technique in creating a balance between local resource mobilization and sustainable community ownership. Thanks a lot to Rafique ji's innovative community approach.
Comment by Dr. E. Mohamed Rafique on May 14, 2010 at 4:55pm
Hello Phil,

One thing I would do differently, is to go there on a Sunday. Actually, last three Sundays we have been doing that! Sunday is the day when all the Nepalis are at home, and the Community has their getogether. Thus by visiting on Sunday, we could interact with more people in the Community. Moreover we meet the influential ones, or the Community leaders, who lead the implementation of the collective decisions of the community.

As for collecting data through snowballing or Respondent-driven sampling, what we learnt was the community could do it far better than we could. In fact any activity it is much better done, if the community did it than we did. Moreover that way the Community took ownership of the actions that we wanted to do. In fact they end up doing our work, while we keeping practicising SALT on them!

I will be posting in due course the AAR of the other sites that we visited.

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