What are some of the organisations you have begun conversations with? How have you invited them to collaborate on the Sustainable Development Goals youth monitoring project? And what are some of the responses they have given to this invitation? It would be interesting to know what their concerns are around whether or not they should get involved.
The implementation process of the youth-led monitoring of SDGs (mainly goal 4/4.7) is structured on the following three pillars:
- UNESCO MGIEP (Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development) – training community organisations, analysing, interpreting and turning the data into policy recommendations
- Community organisations – build tools (in collaboration with the UNESCO MGIEP in-house technology team), train community members on how to use those tools, sort the data and manage the overall work channel between UNESCO MGIEP and the community members
- Communities – collect data, recommend indicators, solve their problems and follow up with local governments for the implementation of the recommendations put forth based on the data collected.
As depicted in the sketch, each entity has its role but more important is the seamless interaction between the entities. Secondly, each has something to gain. The community members have issues that need solutions – from community members themselves or their local governments, and civil society organisations can solve some issues. It is therefore in the best interest of the community members to supply the data of the issues, of the actions etc. The community organisations need this data for their actions. Actions that are specific and directly impactful. They also want to see whether their actions/solutions are positively or negatively affecting the lives of the community members.
UNESCO MGIEP, being a research organisation needs real, on ground data to put forward policy recommendations for UNESCO and member states to take action. Central to this bottom-up approach is that everything pertaining to the pilot phase will be determined by consensus with the community and community and their issues coming first. This community centricity is the most unique part of the project.
With this clarity, we reached out to local organisations, working on the ground with local communities. We shortlisted the following based on their work and the alignment to the overall objective of the project.
Restless Development India
Restless Development is run out of strategic hubs in ten countries across Africa, Asia and in the UK and USA, with a wider network of partners across the world. They work to make sure young people have a voice, living, sexual rights, and play a leadership role in preventing and solving the world’s challenges. Restless Development has been working with young people since 1985 and thousands of young people lead their work every year. They listen to young people, young people lead their work, and together they help young people make lasting change in their communities and countries.
The 4th Wheel (social impact) was founded in 2010 with an ambitious vision to improve and strengthen social development programs. Over the years, the organisation has had the opportunity to work with Government bodies, NGOs, corporates and social enterprises.
“Our experiences led us to understand the importance of strategic program design, implementation and evaluation.”
They have identified four areas of support that they extend to organisations: tracking baseline data, impact evaluation, using development communication for social change and building capacities of implementation staff. Looking into the future, the organisation aims to establish itself as ‘thought leaders’ in the social impact space, with a focus on technology and multi-stakeholder partnerships.
At the beginning of our discussion with these organisations, we started by sending the summary of the youth-led monitoring paper and asked the organisations to submit a design/proposal highlighting how this paper could be translated into reality and their respective roles in the same process.
The overall objectives of this exercise were as follow:
- Will these organisations be able to comprehend the paper and visualise a possibility of translating it on the ground? If yes, then the first signal is that this idea might work.
- Which of these organisations has the in-house capacity to translate this idea into reality? Timelines, experts, etc.
- Which one has the widest community (vulnerable communities) reach?
- Which one is the most efficient as far as cost goes?
Of the three organisations, the proposal from 4th Wheel was concrete and showed an in-depth grasp of the overall objective of the project. 4th Wheel’s core strength is working with baseline data and on ground impact evaluation among other things, not to mention, they had the most reasonable costings and high economies of scale based on their wide coverage and presence in more than ten districts in Rajasthan and Mumbai. These are things that we could not find in the first two organisations and are central to the success of the project.
Monitoring, analysing and measuring/impact of crowd-sourced data is the DNA of youth-led monitoring project.
Henceforth, our discussions have advanced with 4th Wheel, and their revised proposal is pending the Director’s approval before signing an official partnership agreement.
Along the way, we also realised that Restless Development’s strengths lie in their global presence and their mass network of young people. It made, therefore, to wait and bring in Restless Development maybe after the piloting phase when the project is well tested on the ground and therefore ready to go global.
How is the building of the app going? Let us know what questions are informing its development?
The youth-led monitoring app will follow from the first phase. It will be a bottom-up approach to data collection instead of a top-down approach as we first thought. The rationale for the bottom-up approach is because the entire project is built around issues that concern a particular community; mostly education-related now but would encompass anything under the framework of the sustainable development goals – pretty much everything/every issue that a particular community faces.
The idea of an app is simply to translate the framework into action. What are the issues facing a particular community? What are some of the actions that the community as a whole is taking to tackle these issues? What are the indicators or positive or negative change to validate that these issues have been solved or not? Can the learning within the community be mapped or measured? Central to these questions and this entire premise is the community. The community members will be the ones pinpointing these issues, partly solving them and see if there is a change for the better or worse. It makes sense therefore to give the reign of identifying these issues, actions and indicators to the community members – individuals, local governments, civil society organisations etc.
UNESCO MGIEP and local organisations, together with representatives of the community will try to analyse this data collected by the community members and formulate policy recommendations for policymakers to intervene. This is the main reason to why we thought the app development phase should follow from the identification of partners (local CSOs and community members). Once these are identified, the partner organisation will help in training them and then hand over the responsibility to collect their data and monitor their progress. Once the community members can identify these issues and prioritise accordingly, they will be clear on what actions to take and by whom? Individuals or local government? They will also be in a better position to look back and see whether things have changed.
This bottom-up approach aims to give ownership of the process of social change to the community members, and this ownership is crucial in effecting any positive change.
About the development of the app, we have an in-house technology team that will work hand in hand with the local organisation to build the app.