Communities know a lot about the impact of development projects. They know much about how they made use of the projects, what changed and why it changed. Sometimes they find it difficult to express it. Sometimes they are tempted to tell outsiders what they think the outsider wants to hear. So we need to start a process in which community members find it interesting and beneficial to reflect on the change themselves in a systematic way, and be open and self-critical about it. When community members do this, they generate relevant and valid information. At the same time they become empowered to take more control of their realities.

The NGO-IDEAs Tiny Tools are a relatively simple and quick (“tiny”) way to achieve this. Each of the Tiny Tools is designed to be used by a facilitator with a group of community members during a short workshop or focus group. The purpose of the tools is to help the community members assess the impact that the project has had on their lives. All the tools are widely tested.

The output of all the Tiny Tools is a visual representation of how people’s lives have changed. These visual outputs can be used in reports, along with a narrative description, to show how communities believe that the program has impacted their lives. They can also be placed in a public area for the community to track their own achievements, or as the basis for further discussions and strategic planning. While many of the Tiny Tools generate qualitative data, some can also provide quantitative data (also called “participatory statistics”).