Informants are asked to describe a typical day, giving as much detail as possible about the activities that they carry out and the amount of time each takes. (WFP 2009)

Example of Daily Calendar (AED-PCS):


Informants are asked to identify events that take place at particular times of a normal year. These include climatic events such as rains or cold weather, livelihood activities such as planting, harvesting or labour migration, cultural events such as religious festivals, and other events that are significant to the community. These are plotted on a calendar, and unusual events resulting from the current crisis are superimposed on this. (WFP 2009)

Seasonal calendars are able to diagrammatically show some of the main local activities, problems and opportunities throughout the annual cycle.  In the usual presentation, seasonal calendars are actually a series of different diagrams shown on a single sheet.  The emerging patterns of seasonally-related constraints and opportunities can help to identify the months of greatest difficulty and vulnerability, or other significant variances which have an impact on people’s lives.  (CARE 1998)

Example of Seasonal Calendar (AED-PCS):


Every community has experiences and knowledge about the usual patterns of events in the lifetimes of people in their setting.  A time-line is a list of key occurrences in the typical life history of people in the community that helps to identify trends, events, problems and achievements.  The main strategy to enable the community to prepare a time-line is through small group discussions; group discussions are preferable because they encourage discussion and are a better representation of collective community experience and knowledge. (CARE 1998)

A historical time line provides a useful overview of how the current crisis fits into a historical perspective. It shows whether this type of crisis is a regular or a one-off occurrence. It also helps identify trends. For example, a time line might show that drought is affecting an area more frequently than in the past. (WFP 2009)


A participatory data collection method for gathering time-related information such as the sequence of key events in the history of a community or a child’s first year of life. Informal groups of people, who are knowledgeable about a topic under study, are asked to use locally available materials (such as a pen and large paper, a stick or a straight line drawn on the ground, stones, leaves or bark) to indicate historical events. Participants are asked to describe each key event. The dates or names representing important events are marked on the timeline using locally available materials. This exercise provides important background as to the population’s situation. When used it is usually the first research activity done in a community as it helps to introduce the research team to many people at once. (WV 2000)


Part 1: Documents Describing the Techniques

CARE. Barton, Tom (1998). Program Impact Evaluation Process, Module 2: M&E Toolbox. CARE UgandaAccessible here.

WFPEmergency Food Security Assessment Handbook, Second Edition. World Food Programme. Rome, Italy. January 2009. Accessible here.

WV. Rapid Assessment Procedures (RAP): Addressing the Perceived Needs of Internally Displaced Persons in Gulu District, Uganda. World Vision. 14 September 2000. Accessible here.


Academy for Educational Development, Population Communication Services (AED/PCS). CAFS Handbook: Participatory Techniques. 2002. Accessible here.