Villagers say thank you for listening


It is no wonder that field teams and National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB) staff love working with the participatory Qualitative Information System (QIS). Villagers in four districts of Sri Lanka thanked the teams for asking their views and for taking the time to listen to and record their answers during an assessment of sub-projects in 102 villages. The teams demonstrated their commitment by conducting field assessments in trying conditions and dangerous (Tamil Tiger) areas.

Field workers reported this enthusiastic response by villagers during a visit by an assessment team made up of Deirdre Casella from IRC, Viju James, Sanath Fernando and N.I. Wickramasinghe from 31 July to 17 August 2005 to facilitate a participatory assessment of the ADB funded 3rd Water Supply and Sanitation Project (TWSSP). Although field staff were exhausted, they were proud of what they had accomplished and confident in defending their work in public when challenged by engineers, politicians and district project managers. The improved capacity of these 56 men and women, most of them from poor rural villages, is an added value that was not a part of the initial design for technical assistance.

Qualitative Information System (QIS)

QIS is a flexible system to monitor, capture and compare qualitative information over time and space, to store and manage this information in computer databases, and to link assessment with action planning during stakeholder meetings. QIS was developed by IRC and Pragmatix in Indiaand was tested in Indiaand Sri Lanka. The main features of QIS are that it:

  • measures project processes and qualitative impacts;

  • uses standard PRA tools for community assessment;

  • empowers communities and project staff;

  • converts qualitative information into numbers;

  • collects qualitative information to explain the numbers;

  • stores information on existing, off-the-shelf computer database programmes; and

  • facilitates adaptive management, through stakeholder meetings and action planning reports, throughout the project management cycle.