A pocket chart consists of rows of paper or cloth pockets, usually four to six horizontally and six to ten vertically.  A set of pictures is attached above the top row of pockets.  These pictures represent areas in which data are needed, such as different people’s participation in decision-making.  Each of these pictures is placed at the head of a vertical column.  If desired, pictures can also be attached down the left-hand side to indicate other variables, such as what kinds of decisions are being made by community members. In order to avoid confusion, the facilitators should use only one variable on a column at a time. (CARE 1998)


The why-why tree allows for a participatory debate on the underlying causes of a specific problem. It also facilitates the prioritization of such causes. It clearly illustrates the relationship between the cause and effect. By going to the roots of an issue, this tool makes it possible to better define objectives and to choose appropriate intervention strategies. (IFRC 2008)


SWOL analysis is a powerful tool for group assessment of the issues of concern, particularly interventions or different potential courses of action.  It is based on a structured brainstorming aimed at eliciting group perceptions of the positive factors (strengths), the negative factors (weaknesses), the possible improvements (opportunities) and the constraints (limitations) related to the issue. (CARE 1998)


Where resources and time for data collection are scarce, and the focus of the operation is on communities, a useful tool is the ‘community inventory’. This is a practical, cost effective approach that can be undertaken by many government staff and partner agencies such as NGOs. It records the following type of data: (IFRC 2002)

  • Location, population, natural and man-made assets, and access to facilities and services;
  • Identification of the existence of specific groups within the community, such as the elderly, families with AIDS orphans, people of specific ethnic groups or castes, or people with low levels of well-being, and the size and characteristics of those groups;
  • Opinions of groups within the community about problems and possible solutions.


Consensus panels can be used to sift and prioritise existing information or, subjectively, generate missing information. They do require careful organisation, but if this is done, the information generated can be just as valuable as that from more objective means such as surveys. The panel is a mechanism to reach a subjective consensus on an issue by avoiding the personality “noise” that accompanies round table discussion: dominating personalities, varying degrees of knowledge and so on. (IFRC 1996)

The group is asked to make an estimation of a parameter by anonymous ballot. The result of this ballot are presented to the group in terms of median and confidence ranges. Those who are outside the median are allowed to make anonymous arguments as to why their value, not supported by most of the group, is valid. The aim is to move towards a consensus and a Delphi normally has 3-4 rounds of this procedure. Consensus panels could include different types of experts: e.g. government officials, aid workers, village elders and technical experts to identify factors making areas liable to famine. Factors can be pruned, weighted and related to existing data through structured discussion and incorporated into maps which could be overlain. The more overlaps of risk factors, the more the liability of the area to famine. Areas can be judged ‘vulnerable’ and ‘very vulnerable’ to famine. (IFRC 1996)


Part 1: Documents Describing the Techniques

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

IFRCGuidelines for Assessment in Emergencies. International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Geneva, Switzerland. May 2008. Accessible here.

IFRCHandbook for Monitoring & Evaluation, 1st Edition. International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies. Geneva, Switzerland. October 2002. Accessible here.

IFRCVulnerability and Capacity Assessment Toolbox. International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Geneva, Switzerland. October 1996. Accessible here.

WFP. Choosing Methods & Tools for Data Collection: Monitoring & Evaluation Guidelines. United Nations World Food Programme Office of Evaluation. Rome, Italy. Accessible here.