Jobs · Research

Looking for hands-on experience with grass-roots participatory technology… Can you help?

So my colleagues at Aptivate have kindly approved my proposal to take a sabbatical.  So from October 2015 I will taking a break for the UK to explore a core interest of mine – the intersection of ICTs/mobile technology and participatory methodologies.

I have been interested in this area for some time since starting work on on Masters dissertation, but really want to get more hands-on experience working on the ground, in the Global South,  with a group that are doing this stuff well.  It may be a bit selfish and of course I need to be useful to the organisation I spend time with, but . . . the main reason for taking time out is to learn from people who really know their stuff when it comes to participatory methods (things like REFLECT or PLA/PRA/RRA etc..)!

Can you help?  Do you know anyone you could recommend?

In short, what I am hoping to do is…

  • Work pro-bono for a few months (at a guess 3-6 but am flexible – if I happen to be in the area of an interesting project, then even offering my services for a week or so of research, evaluation or workshops could be interesting)
  • For an organisation working directly with end-users in their local communities
  • Ideally within a project making use of ICTs and participatory methods (serious participation – something like REFLECT or Participatory Rural Appraisal, not just a consultation or a feedback loop)
  • But . . .  as this may be a tall order,  a good ICT/Mobile project and a good participatory project as two separate experiences might work
  • Where?  Pretty much anywhere…  Latin America and Myanmar are particularly appealing, but really the nature of the work is more important so Kenya, Ghana, the Phillipines, India, Mexico . . . you get the idea…
  • When?  I will be travelling to Australia during September / October 2015 and could start straight after that, or early in 2016 if it makes more sense to come home for Christmas and start over.  The only real deadline is that I need to be finished by September 2016 at the latest.
  • Doing what?  Well this is tricky – obviously I need to be helpful to the project/organisation so my ICT4D practice and research skills – project management, program development, research and evaluation, fundraising, strategic consultancy etc. are all potentially useful.  BUT I also need to learn about what makes for good, effective, fair participatory work, so I want  to be directly involved in this delivery.  I’m sure we can work something out! 🙂  Oh and it’s always possible that wider collaboration opportunities with Aptivate might emerge too, who knows!
    • So after a couple of emails I was reminded that the term participation/participatory covers a lot of ground so maybe I should clarify…  What I really want to get some experience of is a group, project, or program working at the top-end of Arnstein’s ladder – full and meaningful participation of the local community at every stage – from defining the goals, through delivery to evaluation – something that is genuinely empowering…  Using technology… A tall order?  I know, hence this  blog! 🙂

So this is a plea  for advice…

Do you know of the perfect project?  Do you know others working in this space?  Have you read about, heard about something that seems relevant?

Please download my CV from my profile page and email me (matt /a/ if you have any ideas – I am open to any and all suggestions! 🙂



9 thoughts on “Looking for hands-on experience with grass-roots participatory technology… Can you help?

    1. Not yet but will do, we’re big fance of user/human-centred design at Aptivate. Interestingly Josh Blumenstock presented some research yesterday which challenges some of the assumptions about the positive impact of mobile money on the poor…


    1. Thanks Pamela – can’t comment on your blog so replying here. Sounds interesting definitely. For the moment I am gathering potential opportunities so I can look at them all together and see what makes sense. I definitely want to spend time with at least ONE project using established participatory techniques (REFLECT, PRA/RRA etc.), but that doesn’t mean I won’t find time for other projects during the year too! Will try and find time off-work-hours to look through properly soon! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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