Plant With Purpose Phraseology:
Participatory Workshops

Written by Plant With Purpose on September 2, 2014 in Phraseology

A group in Tanzania reflects on community organizations engagement in this participatory workshop.

In the world of community development, participatory workshops provide a way to gain feedback from partnering communities. Every three years, Plant With Purpose conducts impact evaluations in an effort to monitor and evaluate the success of our field programs. Information is gathered through participatory workshops, household surveys, and remote sensing of vegetative change. We are in the preliminary stages of analyzing the information gathered for the 2014 impact evaluations.

In the meantime, here’s a little information on participatory workshops.


This participatory workshop asked if community concerns could be changed by them or if they were outside their control.

Participatory workshops explore the resources and needs of a community through facilitator-led activities. Simple tools such as beans or corn kernels, paper circles, and roles of butcher paper are used as visual aids to engage participants and capture knowledge. We have received some pretty impressive feedback from these workshops. They enable locals to analyze, share, and develop their knowledge to plan, manage, and evaluate development projects and programs.

Two groups of individuals from a community are selected to participate—a control group of nonparticipating individuals and a group of Plant With Purpose program participants. For our impact evaluations, both groups were asked questions focused on organizations working within their community, their resources, and ultimately their reputations.

If an organization is determined as having many resources, their name is written on a large paper circle. Medium and small circles represent organizations possessing fewer resources. Concentric circles drawn on a piece of butcher paper represent the community. The groups are then asked to place the small, medium, or large circles on the butcher paper based on their perception of the organization’s relation to, and impact on, the community. The closer the circle sits to the “bulls-eye,” the closer the organization is perceived by participants. Disengaged organizations are placed further from the center.

Once the workshop is complete, Plant With Purpose staff use the group’s placement of the paper circles to quantify the results and analyze the impact different organizations are having within the community.

It is a brilliant way to gain feedback, while engaging different segments of a community. Stay tuned for the 2014 impact evaluation findings!

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