In a nutshell

At first glance, a community-led approach might seem less accountable because of its inherent flexibility.

But this approach still involves the development of benchmarks that indicate whether or not the community process is “on track.” Benchmarks might include whether there is inclusive participation in dialogues and decision-making, or collective reflection on the strengths and drawbacks of particular options. If particular benchmarks are not being achieved, the facilitator may invite the community to reflect on why this is occurring and ask what steps could be taken to achieve those benchmarks.

When it comes to measuring whether actions have improved the outcomes for children, the community can internally evaluate the results. Communities themselves frequently conduct internal reviews of collective actions, such as farming: they might gather to review their methods, the quality and abundance of the harvest, and reflect on adjustments to make for the next planting.

Communities can use the same type of internal reviews and reflections in regard to their work on behalf of child protection.

For example, a community that has decided to address “early sex” might call a meeting to take stock of how well their actions are working. Such a meeting might involve young girls discussing what—if anything—has changed, and it might involve similar discussions among parents.
If the community action had aimed to keep young children in school, the community might ask to review the school attendance records. Alternatively, the community might ask health workers to review their records indicating the numbers of pregnancies among younger girls.

It is also possible for an NGO that has supported the community-led action to conduct an external evaluation (with the community's permission) in order to document the community’s work and accomplishments. Using mixed methods, such an evaluation could compare baseline levels of the community-selected harms to children with those that occurred following, say, two years of the community-led action. The findings would be fed back in a respectful manner to the community, which they could use to guide any needed adjustments in their ongoing action.

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