Review a community-based water management practice: Investigating context and practice

a) Learning about your context

Step 1: Choose your participants
On Worksheet 2: Access and Participants write down the names and contact details of 5 people you would like to speak to. One person should be someone who has worked in the area and has specialist knowledge about the water practice you are investigating. The other 4 should be people who are engaged in the water practice.

Step 2: Negotiate access
On Worksheet 2: Access and participants fill in the names of people you need to speak to before you go into the area. Also write in their contact details. Write a short descriptive paragraph about your change project. Make an appointment to see these people to explain what you intend to do. Make sure you are prepared for your meeting. You can draw on your Pre-Course Assignment to prepare for your appointment.

Step 3: Observation
Before doing your interviews spend some time in the area observing what is going on in relation to the practice you are investigating. Use Worksheet 3: Observation sheet, to guide your observations. You can also take photographs but remember to always ask permission first. Try and get at least another 3 photographs of your context.
Write up a short description of the context of your Change project based on your observations (Approximately 2 pages) of :

  • First identify the type of practices you are observing (Use the table we developed during Module 1 to help you)
  • Describe the doings, sayings and relatings that are evident in the practices.
  • Then discuss the influence of context and power relations on the doings, sayings and relatings that shape the practices, and how one can ‘navigate’ these. We can look at the following different scales when considering context and power relations.
    a) the women in Mhakaza
    b) other local influences
    c) national influences
    d) global influences
    e) environmental influences
    f) history

Step 4: Developing stories of people and practice.
Using Worksheet 4: Questions to guide developing narratives of practice. This worksheet consists of questions to guide you when speaking to people. You can use the template as it is, or you can adapt it to fit your particular context. Remember you are not only going to see them to get information out of them, you are setting up a relationship. Try not to just ask questions. Aim to engage in a conversation sharing your experience as well. You may also want to take photographs of the people you speak to but make sure you have permission first. Write up your meeting notes as soon as you have finished it so that you don’t forget what was said.

Step 5: Developing narratives of practice
Write up your meeting notes into a story of the person and the practice. You should have at least five stories. Use the following suggested sections to guide you.

a) A brief biography of who they are, where they live and, if necessary, who they work for.
b) a description the type of activist practice or practices that they are engaged with
c) What are the doings, sayings and relatings of this person’s practice?
d) What contextual factors influence these doings, sayings and relatings? Remember to also consider historical factors. You can also draw on your observations to for contextual factors.
e) Do you see any problems in the doings, sayings and relatings? You can also draw on your observations when answering this question.
f) What needs to change in the doings, sayings and relatings and at what level? You can also draw on your observations in answering this question.

Include a picture of the person you interviewed if you took one.

b) Presenting your investigation on context and practice
Once you have completed your investigations it is good practice to share what you have done with others particularly those who you have spoken to. We suggest the following:
1. Presenting to the provincial SAWC and inviting the people who participated in your investigations to this presentation.

2. Presenting to your anchor organisations and inviting the people who participated in your investigations to this presentation.

3. Presenting to either the SAWC or your anchor organisation and doing a separate presentation to the people who participated in your investigations.

Submit the powerpoint presentation or your notes for your presentation for your assignment.

Write a brief paragraph answering the following question:
a) What did I learn about the practice and context from presenting this assignment? (This refers to the comments people gave you about the presentation)

c) Reflection and Learning
Reflecting on what you have learnt by doing this assignment.
Answer the following questions:

a) What advice would I give someone else who is gathering contextual information for the first time? Do I have any questions about doing observations?
b) What advice would I give someone when developing stories of people and practice for the first time? What questions do I have about analysing my context?