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Participatory Research Activities

The project focuses on the application and further development of participatory processes that are suitable for use in communities with low literacy. Participatory research activities are described below:

A Day in the Life of a Farmer Activity

The aim of this activity is to enable community members to share the main activities of a typical village member. This baseline research activity enabled the project team to gain an understanding of gender roles and potential disparities, and began to raise awareness of gender roles at the local level. Read more about a Day in the Life of a Farmer Activity and view an example from the Baiyer Valley Western Highlands region of Papua New Guinea.

Talking Tables— an adaptation of the World Café

The project adopts a participatory process called the World Café developed by Brown and Isaacs (2005). The process draws out individual and collective learning through group conversations and dialogue. The idea is to create spaces that are informal and that encourage friendly but in-depth discussions on selected topics. The project adopts the term ‘Talking Tables’ to describe the process because this is a more internationally transferable name than the concept of café.

Depending upon the amount of time available, four or five tables (or spaces on the ground) can be set up. Each table has a large sheet of paper with a different question and a number of pens for participants to record their ideas and responses. Participants work in groups to respond to the questions directly relevant to the focus of the research. The study focussed on women’s financial practices and hence explored the following questions: What do women spend money on? What do men spend money on? What are the positives and negatives of wantok giving? Why don’t people use banks?

Ideally all participants have a pen and each records her ideas as she talks with others, however in settings where there is low literacy participants often prefer to have one person act as the scribe. On the first table the group writes down all their responses to the first question. After a 10 – 15 minutes, people move as a group, to their next paper where they add to, challenge or extend what has been written on the that paper by the first group. After a further 10 to 15 minutes people again move tables and continue to add, challenge or extend the comments. On the third change people are encouraged to look for patterns, insights and emerging perspectives; that is they begin the data analysis. On the last table each group is asked to nominate a reporter to report back to the large group so that the whole group can discuss and analyse what has emerged.

Ten Seeds Technique

The Ten Seeds Technique developed by Ravi Jayakaran (2002), can be used to explore topics including housing, education levels, resources and poverty. The technique is a valuable tool for gathering quantitative and qualitative data at the same time. It is primarily a visual and oral process that particularly suits the learning style preferences of people who have grown up in communities where written forms of learning are not dominant.

The technique uses ten seeds (or whatever local material is available – ten stones in this case). The technique can be used with groups of between 8 and 10 people so that there is a breadth of knowledge in the group yet not too many people for an in-depth discussion. The specified number of seeds/stones (10) enables the group to make reasonable comparisons and can determine approximate percentages. The visual of the results are easy to explain and understand and the discussion provides qualitative information to contextualize the data.


The typical process for using PhotoVoice involves participants taking photographs to explore a topic. It is based on the idea that photographs can enable discussion and can assist people to explore solutions to challenges they may be facing. The PhotoVoice process involves providing cameras to individuals or groups and to use these photographs for participants to express their views on the topic, in this case, their experience of being young growers/farmer in their community. Each participant explains why they have taken their photographs and expresses their ideas about the questions being explored. The objectives were to:
– Explore young people’s strengths as young Farmers
– Identify the challenges they face, what are the problems they encounter as young growers.
– Explore their perceptions of their future in growing/ farming and business?

The PhotoVoice methods used were adapted from Gervais, M & Rivard, L (2013) “SMART” PhotoVoice agricultural consultation: increasing Rwandan women farmers’ active participation in development. Development in Practice, 23:4, 496-510

Vaughan, C.M. (2011), ‘A Picture of Health: Participation, PhotoVoice and Preventing HIV among Papua New Guinean Youth’, London School of Economics and Political Science.

For more information on participatory visual methods used in the project please click on the link below:

Participatory Visual MethodsPresentation-1

Story Gathering Techniques

Local stories have been gathered through talking to local women individually and in small groups with the goal of developing a deeper understanding of women’s lives as smallholder farmers and the diverse economic activities in which women are engaged. These stories have been collected in English, Tok Pisin and Tok Ples across the project and have focussed on spending, saving, banking and challenges to improving livelihoods, as well as to understand the impact of project learning activities. The stories reveal the strengths and resilience of women farmers as well as the challenges they face in daily life. The stories contribute to the research especially in the area of gender relations and gender inequities in PNG. They also provide the basis for ‘learning stories’ (fictional stories built from amalgamated data) that will be used by the Village Community Educators to trigger discussion in family teams and other group learning activities.

Click on Project Stories or watch some of the Project Videos to see some of the powerful testimonials from participants of the project

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