Seven Steps to Construct a CAP

  1. Learning and identifying your target community
  2. Mapping of actors
  3. Participatory diagnostic
  4. Development of CAP
  5. Creation of working group
  6. Implementation of CAP
  7. Evaluation

1. Learning and identifying your target community

It is essential that you start to know your target community and establish trusting relationships to allow for collaborative efforts, like CAPs. Identify where the community shows signs of being organized (even if minimally) or motivation to take participatory action on a project or plan. Without these elements already in place, it is difficult to develop a CAP from scratch.

It is helpful to participate in community meetings and workshops and LISTEN to the needs and issues identified by community members. These issues may not be the issues you think are important to the community and may come as a surprise or sound unimportant to you. Listen and ask questions when the setting is right to understand why the issues identified are important to community members and what they do individually or as a group to try to overcome their particular needs or challenges.

Community leaders and actors often self-identified and show their natural leadership skills organically through group discussions, meetings and through their support to fellow community members in their every day lives. Watch for individuals that show an inclination to lead and listen to leaders identified by other community members.

2. Mapping of actors

Analyze the actors who are present in and around your target community (individual, governmental or organizational) that are relevant to the development of a collaborative or integrated plan and that could play a role in developing and implementing the action plan. We should take note of what other organizations are already present or intervening within our target community to eliminate the duplication of efforts and to share resources and to potentially collaborate.

Map your actors through some of the following questions:

  • What other efforts in the community or neighborhood are being organized?
  • What is the relationship among organizations or community groups (e.g. neighborhood associations, community centers, church groups, etc.)?
  • Who are the players that bring challenges to the execution of the plan?
  • Who are your allies? Your opposition? Your supporters?

3. Participatory diagnostic

A Participatory Diagnostic is an evaluation tool that allows us to identify and prioritize together the challenges, capacities, and interests of the community to promote community action. It is important that those involved understand and prioritize the same necessities and interests that they have identified. To ensure that you have buy-in from participants, a participatory diagnostic provides for a process of collective reflection regarding issues facing the community: including social, economic and cultural challenges facing their lives. From these assertions, can proposals for resolving common challenges arise based on the abilities and resources that exist within the community.

The diagnostic serves as a base to better understand the community and to collectively plan activities that improve their current lives and situation. It is important that the refugee themselves identify and create strategies against the sources of what makes them vulnerable, that they are aware of their abilities and capacity, and that they are able to develop a plan together that implicates the persons involved and members of their community.

Create the Participatory Diagnostic Tool based on the objectives set out by the participants.

4. Elaborating the action plan

The participatory diagnostic period allows you to identify and prioritize issues brought up by participants. Once these are compiled, your job is to facilitate a process where the participants identify and come to an agreement on the collective objectives, activities, responsible persons, and a time frame (chronogram of activities) to meet the objectives. Help facilitate a discussion where that allows the participants to identify needs, capacities and resources. Consider resources available (including physical, human, economic) that are available or limited. Not all challenges can be overcome at once, so prioritizing activities to take on is important.

To help community members select an issue or objective, consider the following questions:

  • How many community members will benefit from the proposed plan/ solution?
  • What is the most pressing issue facing the community to be resolved?
  • How does this issue impact other challenges in the community?
  • If resources are lacking, what ways can they be acquired?
  • Does the proposed plan solve the problem temporarily or for the long term?
  • What issues can be postponed and what issues need to be addressed urgently?
  • What plan would generate greater participation and community support?

Requirements for designing a CAP

  • Establish clear objectives
  • Identify the activities needed to accomplish the objectives set out
  • Identify and adequately distribute available resources (physical, human, economic)
  • Identify other resources available and plan for obtaining those resources
  • Distribute in an efficient and equitable manner responsibilities and activities that allows for active involvement of all members
  • Develop an agenda or timeline to accomplish the activities set forth in the plan

5. Develop a pilot group

As you launch CAPs in your office, consider forming a pilot group to actively engage you in not only the CAP process, but also provide feedback on what works or doesn’t work. Make adjustments based on this feedback. The pilot group, with the support and participation of the community, will promote and instigate the activities in the CAP. During the initiation and execution of CAP, consider providing skills training and support in the area of organizing, leadership building, and democratic participation as well as providing information in rights-based issues. Take note of community members who already assume leadership roles who may be equipped to lead workshops and trainings.

6. Implementation

Within the execution of the CAP, continue to encourage and facilitate spaces where the protagonists are the individuals who are impacted or benefit from the CAP. Take note of what works and doesn’t work and make adjustments as necessary. For example, help the group reorient activities and resources, modify the focus, the timing, or the responsibilities distributed if necessary. A good action plan should allow for flexibility.

7. Evaluation

Participatory evaluation of the CAP provides important feedback on the advances, setbacks, and outcomes of the action plan. Before setting the CAP in action, construct your evaluation tools by directly linking them to the objectives set out initially. Decide when and at what stages of the CAP evaluation will take place. If possible, share the feedback with the participants and allow for them to propose improvements to the CAP process.