Women are key players in development and a decade of CIET experience in 42 countries has produced several lessons worth sharing and many mistakes worth avoiding as we work to build the community voice in planning. CIET is a South non-governmental organisation consisting of an international cadre of professionals from a variety of disciplines who bring scientific research methods to the community level. CIET had developed a method of sentinel community surveillance (SCS) which involves communities in information gathering and analysis. The method facilitates the gathering of both quantitative and qualitative data, its analysis in term of impact, coverage and costs, and community-led solutions that are sustainable and locally relevant. The CIET method of facilitating community access to appropriate measurement technology, builds national and local evaluation capabilities in reiterative cycles.
This article distills the experience with gender issues using the SCS approach. The five identifiable methodological steps may be of relevance to other methods: the first is the analysis of existing data in terms of gender; second is the stratification of responses, analysing differences by sex of respondent; third is the processing of key findings by female focus groups, to obtain their interpretation of the data even when respondents are men; fourth, the epidemiological backbone of SCS permits analysis of gender-related risk and resilience; and, fifth, logistics of fieldwork are configured to maximise participation. With support from the World Bank, UNICEF and the IDRC, the methods have been adapted for use in public sector reform, national campaigns against corruption, and improving the effectiveness and transparency of the police, judiciary, environmental programmes and urban transport.