Community Transformation Indicators:
Interview with World Vision Transformation Development International Director

January 25, 2006 in Washington D.C.
By Luis Bush

1. Introduction: [top]

Transformation Development of the Poor is one of the four main transformational streams that are flowing across communities throughout the world. To assess the impact of transformation on a given community Transformation Indicators have been developed. World Vision International (WVI) has provided the global community with a way to approach and evaluate the effectiveness and ensure that we do things right as we seek to minister to the poor. Jaisankar Sarma serves as International Director for Transformation Development and facilitates a Transformation Indicators Task Force for WVI. Insights on Community Transformational Indicators during an interview on January 25 in Washington D.C. and related writings provides the basis for this memo.

2. Transformation Development of the Poor Emerges as Primary Mission over the last decade: [top]

Four primary ministry phases reflect the evolutionary development of ministry at WVI. Each of the past four decades reflect a new phase as follows:

Phase 1: 1960's Orphan Children Care. Bob Pierce started ministry of WVI with care for orphaned children in South Korea and China.

Phase 2: 1970's Family Model. Christian schools become the primary focus of ministry.

Phase 3: 1980's Community Development Program through small projects with local churches as the main partners. WVI would find local churches to engage local communities. Development programs would vary from church to church depending on understanding of poverty and effective development. This led to Phase 4.

Phase 4: 1990's Area Transformational Programs were begun working with sizeable number of people for longer term periods. A Ministry Standards Working Group was formed in 1997 to "propose a standard set of quality of ministry indicators which will be used throughout the Partnership." Three sets of field tests were made to determine appropriate transformational development indicators (TDI). They were essential to developing these indicators and contextualising them to be meaningful for the communities.

In seventy five countries, WVI implements long term community based, sustainable, transformational development programs that are especially focused on children's well-being. These programs are called Area Development Programs (ADP) and each program aims to impact anywhere between 20,000 to 100,000 people, over a period of 10 to 15 years.

By the year 2000, a Transformational Development Framework was forged based on an understanding of poverty championed by Jayakumar Christian, India WVI Director. Transformation indicators were ready for implementation in 2003 and began to be applied to assess the impact of transformation development projects.

3. Transformational Development Framework [top]

According to Roche in "Impact Assessment for Development Agencies," "Transformational Development is a process through which children, families, and communities move toward wholeness of life with dignity, justice, peace and hope." World Vision recognizes that human transformation is a continuous process of profound and wholistic change brought about by the work of God. Hence, the process and the impact of transformational development must be consistent with the principles and values of the Kingdom of God.

It's the domain of God. We walk with the poor as committed followers of Jesus Christ, with a passion to see God's Kingdom come among the poor. The overall goal is wholeness of life with peace (shalom) and hope for the poor.

Table 1 describes the transformational development framework of World Vision, which provides the scope for impact assessment in their programs.

Table 1: Transformational Development Framework [top]
"As followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, we celebrate God's vision for all people from all cultures and we believe that the preferred future for all boys and girls, families and their communities is wholeness of life with dignity, justice, peace and hope."
Domains of Change Scope of Change
1. Well-Being of Boys, Girls and Their Families in the Community Capacities of families and communities to:
  • Ensure the survival of girls and boys.
  • Enhance access to health and basic education.
  • Provide opportunities for spiritual and emotional nurture.
  • Develop a sustainable household livelihood with just distribution of resources and enhance the capacity of children to earn a future livelihood.
  • Protect girls and boys from abuse and exploitation.
  • Reduce risks and prevent, cope with, mitigate and respond to disasters, conflicts and pandemics such as HIV/AIDS.
2. All Girls and Boys Empowered as Agents of Transformation
  • Girls and boys participate in the development process in an age-appropriate manner, becoming agents of transformation in their families and communities, both now and in the future.
3. Transformed Relationships
  • Restored with God through faith in Jesus Christ.
  • Equitable, just, peaceful, productive and inclusive relationships within households and communities that impact on economic, social, political, spiritual, environmental and ecclesiastical aspects of life.
  • Responsible relationship with the environment.
  • Includes all who participate in the process of transformational development (donors/sponsors,churches, organisations, staff and their families, boards, the poor, the non-poor) changing their worldview and lifestyles to be more consistent with Christ's concern for the poor.
4. Interdependent and Empowered Communities
  • Presence of a culture of participation, with families and whole communities empowered to influence and shape their situation through coalitions and networks at local, national, regional and global levels. based on mutual respect, transparency and ethical/moral responsibility.
5. Transformed Systems and Structures
  • Includes all elements that contribute to transformational development, such as access to social services, citizen participation, means of production, just distribution of resources in the state, civil society and private sectors, structural, systemic and policy issues. Impacts on social, religious, economic and political domains at local, national, regional and global levels.

4. Transformational Development Indicators [top]

Transformational Development indicators (TDI) are developed to reflect changes/impact in each of these domains described in the Transformational Development Framework. "Impact" refers to significant changes in conditions related to long-term project aims or vision, that have occurred as a consequence of achieving goals and objectives with purposeful or irresistible results. Impact refers to vital changes that have occurred in people's lives in part because a project was implemented. However, human development is a complex process affected by many variables that are beyond the direct control of a development program.

Diagram 1: World Vision's Transformational Development Indicators (TDI) [top] World Vision's Transformational Development Indicators

Diagram 1 shows the TDI and how they are organised in terms of their focus on the lives of people. The framework is child-centered and demonstrates that the well-being of the child is shaped within the overall context of his/her family and the community.

A list of the current Transformational Development Indicators and brief description of the measurement methods in provided in Table 2. There are a total of twelve transformational indicators which elate to the five major domains described in the transformational framework. WVI has published eight volumes on Transformational Indicators.

Table 2: Transformational Development Indicators. [top]
Title Indicator Definition Data Source Measurement Process
1. Water Percent of households who have year round access to an improved water source. Access to an improved water source means 15 or more litres of water per person per day, from a potable source within 30 minutes of the household. Potable source means a tap, protected well, or other protected water source. Primary data from household survey Primary data: 30 cluster random household survey, verified by principal caregiver report.
2. Nutrition Percent of boys and percent of girls, aged 6 - 59 months, stunted. Stunted means the child has a Z-score below minus 2 standard deviations (SD) from the median height-for-age of the NCHS/WHO standard. This indicates moderate and/or severe malnutrition. Primary data from household survey Primary data: 30 cluster random household survey, verified by age, height and weight measurements.
3. Primary Education Percent of boys and percent of girls who are enrolled in or have completed the first six years of formal education. Enrolled means currently enrolled in the appropriate year of formal education for the child's age. Completed means successfully passed the sixth year of formal education while of the recommended age for that level. Appropriate level and age are determined by the country's Ministry or Department of Education. These first years of formal school are often identified as primary or elementary school. Primary data from household survey Primary data: 30 cluster random household survey, verified by principal caregiver report.
4. Diarrhoea Management Percent of children 0 - 59 months with diarrhoea in the past two weeks, whose disease was acceptably managed. Diarrhoea means more than 3 loose stools passed in a 24 hour period. Acceptably managed means the child received increased fluids (preferably ORT or recommended home fluid) during the disease and while recovering. Primary data from household survey Primary data: 30 cluster random household survey, verified by principal caregiver report.
5. Immunisation Percent of children aged 12 - 23 months fully immunised. Fully immunised means the child has received all National Ministry of Health (MOH) recommended vaccines before 12 months. Must include immunisation against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, measles, poliomyelitis and tuberculosis. Primary data from household survey Primary data: 30 cluster random household survey, immunisation status verified by MOH individual vaccination cards.
6. Household Resilience Percent of households adopting coping strategies within the past year. Coping strategies means an adaptive coping strategy, sale of a liquid or productive asset, so as to mitigate the impact of external shocks and/or environmental stress factors in order to provide the household's basic necessities. Primary data from focus group discussions & household survey. Primary data: Focus group discussions to identify local coping strategies, specific to the communities, to be used in a survey. 30 cluster random household survey, verified by principal caregiver report.
7. Poorest Households Percent of poorest households. Poorest households means those households identified to be the most socially and/or economically disadvantaged within a community. Primary data from wealth ranking exercises. Primary data: Series of wealth ranking exercises involving community leaders and community members from sample communities.
8. Caring for Others Community members care for each other. Care for each othermeans that men, women, boys and girls perceive that they care for others and others care for them in their community. Care for each other is defined around dimensions regarding use of community resources, gender relations, valuing and protection of children, well-being of vulnerable persons and conflict prevention/resolution. Primary data from focus group discussions Primary data: Guided focus group discussions with men, women, boys and girls. Information analysed and indexed by a rating committee using specific rating guidelines.
9. Emergence of Hope Communities' emergence of hope in their future. Emergence of hope means that men, women, boys and girls perceive and demonstrate hope in their future. Dimensions of this emergence of hope include people's perceptions of the past and the present, attitude towards the future, self-esteem and spirituality. Primary data from focus group discussions. Primary data: Guided focus group discussions with men, women, boys and girls. Information analysed and indexed by a rating committee using specific rating guidelines.
10. Christian Impact Christian capacity & intentionality of programme teams. Christian capacity and intentionality means active staff spiritual nurture, strong church relations and appropriate witness to Christ. Secondary data from document review. Primary data from focus group discussions. Secondary data: Review of programme documents. Primary data: Guided focus group discussion with Christian programme staff. Information analysed and indexed by two consultants using specific rating guidelines.
11. Community Participation Community participation in development. Community participation means that men, women, boys and girls perceive they actively participate in all aspects of their development, with particular focus on programme planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Primary data from focus group discussions Primary data: Guided focus group discussions with men, women, boys and girls. Information analysed and indexed by a rating committee using specific rating guidelines.
12. Social Sustainability Social sustainability of community development. Social sustainability is defined as the capacity within local community organisations to sustain the long-term viability and impact of development processes. This capacity is focused on how conditions for social sustainability are created through the character, functioning, resource mobilisation and networking skills of community organisations. Secondary data from document review. Primary data from focus group discussions. Secondary data: Review of documents from development programmes and community organisations. Primary data: Guided focus group discussions with office bearers and members of community organisations. Information analysed and indexed by a consultant using specific rating guidelines.

5. Conclusion [top]

Community Transformational Indicators began to be applied by World Vision in 2003. They reflect the evolutionary development of the organization over four primary phases and apply to long-term area development programs. There are three foundational concepts that interrelate which form the basis of arriving at community transformational indicators. Understanding the nature of poverty is foundational to the transformational development framework which, in turn, is the basis for the establishment of community transformational indicators.

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