“More than half of the world’s population is urban and although cities are often seen as economic powerhouses urban growth also leads to poverty, inequality and exclusion, most evident in the rapidly growing number of people living in disadvantaged urban areas.

Because growing up in slums cuts children and young people off from the benefits of citizenship and from the opportunities of social mobility that the city could (and should) offer, children and young people residing in slums are increasingly marginalized from social, political and economic opportunities as well as participation in decision making (governance) and development initiatives.

The poor conditions in slums have a huge impact on children and young people, robbing them of opportunities and perpetuating their poverty. As a result they grow up being denied their basic rights, and deprived of opportunities to develop and prepare for a viable adult life. Economic uncertainty pushes slum dwellers, including alarming numbers of children and young people, that are dependent on the cash economy into illicit activities or exposes them to exploitation, or both.

Lacking attention of local authorities entails that the rights of children and young people living in slums are highly violated, not least their right to participate in decision-making around issues that concern them.”1

Plan Denmark, with the financial support of DANIDA, the Danish Development Agency, launched a three year programme (2016-2018) in five cities in Sub-Saharan Africa (Dakar, Freetown, Harare, Lusaka and Monrovia). The aim of this urban youth governance program is to fight urban child poverty and exclusion by contributing to the development of child and youth friendly cities, where children and young people enjoy their rights and actively shape their urban environment1. The programme pursues three objectives2:

  1. Strengthened capacity of urban civil society to support youth governance and active citizenship, urban community development and engage in dialogue and cooperation with local, municipal and national authorities for urban development
  2. Strengthened documentation, learning and evidence-based urban community development methodologies
  3. Increased attention to and prioritization of child and youth focused urban development in Denmark and in Plan International

Various activities are planned to achieve the first objective. This includes a Participatory Community-Based Assessment that aims to map the poor conditions and vulnerabilities of their neighbourhood and give them skills to both push the relevant authorities to prioritize the slum communities and to collaborate with relevant authorities in the design and implementation of concrete plans to improve conditions in the slums1.

PLAN Denmark has collaborated with VI based on its’ community and technology expertise, with a specific focus on supporting the PLAN Dakar Urban team and their community partners to prepare the community assessment activity using appropriate tools and technologies.

Scope of work

The overall objective of the collaboration between PLAN Denmark and VI is to:

  • Support the development of a framework for Participatory Community-Based Assessments and an index for measuring the youth friendliness of an urban community.

In support of this objective, a five-day workshop from the 22nd to the 26th August 2016 was organised by Plan Denmark in Dakar, Senegal. The main tasks included:

  • Facilitate sessions with urban youth representatives from Dakar in order to elicit their ideas and perceptions on the factors they consider important in determining the youth-friendliness of an urban community
  • Organize field activities in order to test several community participatory tools
  • Work with the urban youth representatives in developing and testing indicators.

The outcomes of the workshop and the field work are:

  • Production of a working document on recommended indicators/indicator themes and how to measure and analyse them
  • Production of a final framework for measuring the youth friendliness of an urban community including formulations of key dimensions, indicators and recommendations on data collection methodology for each of the indicators.


The workshop

The purpose of the workshop in Dakar was to create a common understanding of the program among the organisations and individuals involved, to explain the program’s various implementation and management processes and systems, and to introduce what a youth urban governance programme entails, including its governance processes. The first three days of the workshop targeted various members of the Plan Dakar Urban team and representatives of two field partners (ADMG3 and EVE4); local and other relevant authorities were also invited for a half-day presentation on the programme. From day three, youth representatives from four5 communes participated in the workshop. On the morning of day three, youths were introduced to the new programme and examples of youth urban governance were presented. The youths gave their ideas and opinions about “what is a youth friendly Dakar” and the “rights each youth should have in Dakar”. The outcome of this exercise was a list of the main indicators for a youth friendly Dakar, presented in Table 1.

Table 1: List of indicators of a youth friendly city

No Indicateur Indicator G1 G2 G3 G4 G5 G6 Total
1 Faible participation des enfants et des jeunes dans les affaires de la Commune Low participation of children and youths in decision making at the commune level 4 5 2 5 5 5 26
2 Lacunes dans le qualité de la scolarisation des enfants et des jeunes/abandons (drop off)(niveau primaire et secondaire) Gaps in the quality of the education of children and youths and defaulters/drop off (primary and secondary level) 4 5 4 3 5 4 25
3 Non-structuration et assainissement de la commune No proper urban-planning and sanitation in the commune 5 2 2 5 4 4 22
4 Manque d’infrastructures de base Lack of basic infrastructures 3 3 5 5 3 3 22
5 Présence d’insécurité et violence Presence of insecurity and violence 3 5 3 3 2 5 21
6 Présence d’enfants sans état civil Presence of children without civil status (paperless) 3 1 5 4 3 5 21
6 Manque d’espaces de loisir Absence of recreational spaces 4 3 2 4 4 3 20

The participants also did a scoring exercise in order to prioritise the seven indicators identified. This was done by letting each group assign a score between 0 (not a priority) to 5 (highest priority) to each indicator. The two highest priority indicators (1 and 2 in Table 1 above) were used for testing methods and tools for the urban participatory assessment exercise undertaken on days four and five.

On the afternoon of day three, the Valid International consultant briefly presented the various methods and tools that would be tested during the assessment exercise. The field work was undertaken in the commune of Diameguene Sicap Mbao, one of the three communes targeted by the programme (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Diameguene Sicap Mbao commune, Dakar, Sengal
Diameguene Sicap Mbao Commune, Dakar, Senegal

Tools and methods

One activity planned by the programme is to map the poor conditions and vulnerabilities of the youth’s neighbourhood. A mapping exercise was developed by VI prior to the workshop. This included:

  • The development of a website for the PLAN programme
  • The development of a simple questionnaire mapping the main infrastructures of a neighbourhood of Diameguene Sicap Mbao commune. The Open Data Kit (ODK) software was used. This tool is a free and open-source set of tools which helps organizations author, field, and manage mobile data collection solutions. ODK provides an out-of-the-box solution for users to: 1) build a data collection form or survey; 2) collect the data on a mobile device and send it to a server; and 3) aggregate the collected data on a server and extract it in useful formats.
  • Provision of five tablets to be used by the youths to collect the data.


Data collection / analysis methods
In order to produce robust evidence, VI methods are based on the principle of triangulation. There are two types of triangulation:

  • Triangulation by source refers to data confirmed by more than one source. Data that is corroborated by more than one type of source (e.g. community leaders and representatives of youth associations and local administration) is superior to data that is supported by information from only the same type of source. The type of information sources may be defined by demographic, socio-economic, and spatial attributes of informants. Lay informants such as youths can have further source types based on gender. Lay informants from different economic strata, different ethnic groups, different religious groups, or widely separated locations are also different types of source.
  • Triangulation by method refers to data confirmed by more than one method. It is better to have data confirmed by more than one method (e.g. semi-structured interviews and informal group discussions) than by a single method.

Based on the principles of triangulation mentioned above, various sources and methods were introduced to collect and analyse data:

  • Building up a list of key informants (each given a unique identifier)
  • Compiling a BBQ (Barriers-Boosters-Questions) list
  • Presenting the information using the Mind Mapping method
  • Reproducing the Mind Map information by computer using X-Mind software
  • Developing a Concept Map illustrating the principle of cause/effect
  • Developing a Scoring system.



The participants of the two and a half days covering the Participatory Community-Based Assessments sessions were as follows:

  • 15 youths (number varied each day – from 15 to 17) representing 4 Communes of Dakar6
  • 1-2 representatives of PLAN Urban Dakar
  • 2-4 representatives of the implementation partners (EVE and ADMG)
  • 1 representative of PLAN Denmark



An urban participatory assessment is one of the first activities to be carried out during the implementation of the programme. The objective of VI’s support was to facilitate this activity by sharing with the representatives of PLAN, their partners and a group of youth’s innovative tools and methods to facilitate this activity and provide robust and credible data. This core activity was part of the objectives of the workshop and specifically aimed to:

  • Understand and test the use of the urban participatory assessment and its data collection in the urban communities.

Two days were allocated to this exercise. Considering the number of methods to be introduced and the importance of field testing them, there was not enough time to cover each method in great depth. However, the objective was to present the methods to the audience and to go as deep as possible in the testing exercise, in order to see whether the various tools and methods met participant’s needs.


Four teams of two people were formed to map one neighbourhood of the Commune of Diameguene Sicap Mbao; teams consisted of representatives of Plan, ADMG, EVE and one youth.

The consultant gave a brief explanation on how to use the device7; a practical exercise – outside of the workshop building – was done to explain how to answer each question and how to record the GPS position. The field exercise took a couple of hours and every team performed it without difficulties.

At the end of the exercise, the consultant uploaded all questionnaire responses to the server that VI created for this purpose and this procedure was shown to PLAN/ADMG/EVE representatives. The following morning, the consultant presented three possible ways to visualize the outcomes of the mapping exercise. The images below represent what can be seen on the server (please note that certain details can only be viewed online):

  • Google Earth map: a simple satellite image indicating all geographic points recorded. This map is produced by the server as a KML file.8

    Image of map in KML format shown through Google Earth

  • Google map: a simple map image indicating all geographic points recorded. However, each point shows the data recorded: the team that collected the information, type and name of the infrastructure, picture of the infrastructure and geographic position information. This map is produced by the server as a tile-based map and can be viewed from the server itself.

    Image of map produced from ODK server

  • Detailed tile-based interactive map: the first two images are automatically generated by the software posted in the server. This last visualization requires some technical skills and was completed by the VM mapping specialist who allocated icons to each point. In this map, we can not only situate each infrastructure, but also see if it is a “school”, a “health centre”, a “water point”, etc.

    This last image allows one to immediately visualize the eventual gaps in the distribution of some infrastructures (in this example, it is clear that education is a problem because it exists in only one public school while there are several private and Koranic schools). The interactive map can be accessed at http://urban.validmeasures.org/dakar.html

    Figure 2: Image of the interactive tile-based map used in the assessment
    Urban Mapping in Dakar, Senegal


    The map above (Figure 2) is a still image of the interactive map developed using the data collected. The interactivity of the map is better appreciated when the online version is accessed through the site provided. In the online version, the interactivity can be accessed in two ways. First, more detailed information regarding any of the point locations shown is presented on the top right hand corner of the screen whenever the cursor is held on top of the icon (as shown in Figure 3). The detailed information includes a photo of the infrastructure and the name and type of infrastructure.

    Figure 3: Image of the interactive tile-based map showing the tooltip interactivity
    Interactive tile-based map showing tooltip interactivity

    The second form of interactivity is controlled from the selection boxes found in the bottom right of the screen. Here, the different background layers (otherwise called base layers) for the map can be changed to give a different context to the map. The current dark base layer map allows for the various point locations to come out clearly on the map, while still giving a general sense of where these points can be found relative to each other. However, the dark base layer map does not give detailed information on the names of other points of interest in the general area which a street base layer might be able to provide, or any idea of the topography which a satellite base layer would be able to show. In addition to changing base layers, the control box in the lower right corner also allows for the selection of which point locations are shown. By default, all the different types of infrastructure are shown. By de- selecting certain features, one can control which point locations will be shown on the map. This can be useful when trying to identify a relationship or connection between two or more sets of points, or when trying to focus on just one set of points.

    Data collection / analysis tools9

    This section presents a summary of each method introduced during the workshop and illustrates the outcomes of the exercises done with the teams. No translation is provided for the various information given that the intention is to present the methods and not the actual outcomes/information collected during the community assessment exercise. However, the summary of the works (in French) are presented in the annex and was sent to the PLAN team for reference.

    The exercise focused on the two indicators considered to be the main issues affecting children and youths: participation of children/youths in decision-making and quality of education in the Commune.

    Key informants
    In order to apply the principle of triangulation of different sources, a preliminary list of key informants was prepared by participants for each indicator:

    • Education: Members of the decision board of the public school, students, parents of children attending classes, parents of children not attending classes, etc.

    • Youth participation: President of Youths and Sport Commission, Youth’s associations, Chief of the neighbourhood, etc.

      When meeting a key informant, the teams also asked the following question: “In addition to yourself, who would be able to provide us with information on this matter?” This strategy allows for including the most relevant sources of information on a particular topic, thus providing robust data and evidence. It is important to mention that, when undertaking the assessment, the youths participating in the data collection should also be considered as “key informants” of their Commune and their opinions should be recorded.


    Barriers, boosters and questions – BBQ
    Information can be collected through discussions with key informants but also by other methods, such as review of existing documentation, existing studies/research, observation of the field environment, pictures, etc. These methods were not covered during the exercise but it will be important to include these activities when undertaking the community assessment.

    When meeting people, information should be collected using different methods, such as structured or semi-structured interviews, informal group discussions, and case studies. Because of time constraints, no training was given on the various methods and the teams mainly used the semi-structured interview to collect the data. Before meeting a key informant, the teams prepared a list of the main questions to be covered during the interview. The following pointers were shared with participants to facilitate the exercise:

    1. Do you consider that « name the topic » is a problematic topic in the Commune? (Or presents a particular challenges?)

    2. Which elements (objective or subjective) support your perception/opinion?

    3. What is the consequence/impact of this situation?

    4. Which action/activity should be undertaken to improve the situation? (This information is not part of the assessment but was collected in order to provide ideas on how activities should be planned when implementing the programme)

    5. Are there any other problems/challenges affecting children/youths in the Commune?

    In a plenary session, each team shared the information collected with the key informants. Findings were recorded on a flip chart and split according to whether they represented “barriers” or “boosters” of the indicators. A “barrier” (B) is an element negatively affecting an indicator. In contrast, a “booster” (B) has a positive impact on the indicator.

    Points which were not “clear” were recorded as “questions” (Q); any unresolved points should be included as topics for discussion the following days with other key informants; it is then decided whether they act as a “barrier” or a “booster” to the indicator. The “source” of the information was coded (e.g. secretary of the city council was coded 1, chief of the neighbourhood was coded 2, etc.). On the first day the VI consultant compiled the BBQ (Barriers/Boosters/Questions) on a flip chart during the exchanges with participants but the second day this task was undertaken by ADMG/EVE representatives.

    The BBQ method is the first step to visualize the collected data and to categorise the “issues” based on “who” has raised them and by “how many different key informants”. This first exercise provides a long “shopping list” of information/data. However, respondents can express the same idea using different terminologies or through different examples. Hence, this primary listing of issues or findings requires further organisation to allow for analysis and to highlight the main issues. To accomplish this, a second exercise is performed to group “similar or related points” together under a generic heading that represents and clarifies a specific “barrier” or “booster”. This can be seen in Table 3 (below) which shows the grouping of similar themes/information under one heading: e.g. various ‘barriers’ highlighted by respondents were placed under the heading “Implication”, such as “youth participation”, “representation in the commune council” and “existence of a representation quota”. A second “barrier” heading was “Functioning system of the commune council” and included two barriers: “no engagement of the members” and “political discrimination”.

    When the information is organised in this fashion, we are then able to appreciate how many respondents or informants report the particular issue as well as the “score” assigned to it. This in turn makes it much clearer and easier to “weight” the issue in terms of its impact on the indicator. Because of time constraints and considering that the teams could not meet all identified key informants, only a few examples were given. It should be noted, however, that when doing the community assessment, both steps need to be performed. The column “Score” (‘pointage’) is discussed be discussed below.

    Table 2: BBQ expanded list

    Nº ordre Barrières (éléments négatifs) Informateurs Méthode Pointage
    1 Certaines associations subventionnées par Mairie ne jouent pas leur rôle social en retour 1,6 ESS-EC
    2 Faible représentation des jeunes dans Conseil Municipal (quota pas rempli) 1 ESS
    3 Enfants hors zone PLAN pas impliqués dans les activités 1 ESS-EC
    4 Conseil Communal de la Jeunesse non fonctionnel 1,5 ESS
    – Manque d’engagement des membres du conseil communal 5 ESS
    – Discrimination politique 5 ESS
    – Coordination du conseil politisée 5 ESS
    – Choix non inclusif/participatif des membres du conseil 5 ESS
    – Subvention non effectives 5 ESS
    5 Pas d’engagement politique des jeunes 1,2,7 ESS

    Table 3: BBQ aggregated list

    Nº ordre Items Informateurs Méthode Pointage
    1 Implication
    Participation des jeunes 1,2,7 ESS
    Représentation Conseil Communal 1 ESS
    Quota de représentation 1 ESS
    2 Fonctionnement Conseil Municipal
    Manque d’engagement des membres du conseil communal 5 ESS
    Discrimination politique 2,4,5 ESS
    – Coordination du conseil politisée 5 ESS
    – Choix non inclusif/participatif des membres du conseil 5 ESS
    – Subvention non effectives 5 ESS


    Mind Map
    Research often involves the collection and the analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data. Although there are a number of tools to analyse both types of data independently, joint analysis is often challenging. A Mind Map is a graphical way of storing and organising data and ideas; it is designed to facilitate the analysis of quantitative and/or qualitative data and the relationships between them.

    During the first step, the presentation of data/information is done manually using a flip chart: items are recorded, moved, links are made, sometimes changed, other links are found, questions are raised, etc. The goal of the Mind Map exercise is to visually present information gathered from different sources using different methods as well as establish the links between information and the topic investigated.

    Figure 5 shows the central topic of the programme “Child and Youth Friendly City”; the seven indicators identified by the youths are related to the central topic. Each indicator can then be examined using the various data/information collected during the community assessment. Some tips for undertaking this include:

    • It is possible to produce more than one MindMap depending on the needs and the volume of information:
      • A “summary” MindMap illustrating the main topic, all the indicators, and the main points
      • A MindMap illustrating the details of each indicator
    • The choice of the “headline” can also vary according to the needs: a branch can be the
      “topic” or a branch can be the “informant” (where all the important information provided by each informant will be sub-topic branches).

    Figure 6 illustrates a Mind Map exercise from a different programme and gives a good idea of what a Mind Map looks like when all the information is recorded. A software called XMind can be used to record the information and provide a report-friendly way of presenting the findings (which can start off looking relatively ‘messy’).

    XMind Software
    The Mind Map can be edited using an open-source mind-mapping software package called XMind, which is available free at http://www.xmind.net/. As shown in Figure 7, the Mind Map is composed of branches and sub-branches. It is possible to add contextual information such as source of the data/information or additional notes to better explain the meaning of the branches. It is also possible to add a file such as graphics or additional data which would further contextualise the information. Using the XMind software, the Mind Map can also be exported to automatically produce a formatted and illustrated report using the entered findings mentioned above and the hierarchical structure incorporating the various branches and sub-branches. The exported Mind Map graphic is useful for report-writing since all information will already be shown in the graphic.

    Figure 7: Presentation of Mind Map using XMind
    Mind Map using XMind

    Figure 7 shows how different elements of the MindMap are draw together using the XMind software. The software allows one to present these elements, including:

    • Topics and subtopics (branches and sub- branches)
    • Sources of information (key stakeholders)
    • Pictures
    • Graphs
    • Links between each element
    • Illustration of which element is a ‘booster’ and which is a ‘barrier’, or elements requiring ‘more information’

    As mentioned above, only two of the seven identified indicators were used during the workshop to introduce and test the various tools and methods. The time available for the data collection was not sufficient to fully cover the two topics, given the range of activities that had to be completed (e.g. meeting all the key informants, gathering quantitative data, conducting the literature review etc). As such, the available information was not fully comprehensive. Nevertheless, the ADMG and EVE representatives were engaged in an XMind practical exercise and provided with a short document summarizing the main functions of the software. The participants were able to practice recording a few branches. It is worth mentioning that the software is quite user friendly and each person should be able to use it relatively easily –the main piece of advice is simply to play around with it.

    Concept Map
    Concept-mapping is a graphical data-analysis technique that is useful for representing relationships between findings. Concept-maps show findings and the connections (relationships) between them. They are useful when working out and communicating how different findings (e.g. barriers) are related and interact with each other in complex or cyclical processes. For example, a concept map will be able to show how a specific situation or condition has come about as a result of a specific event or factor.

    Figure 8: Concept map
    Concept Map

    The example given in Plan Denmark is in the process of launching a three year programme in five African cities with the potential to have a tremendous impact on the life of youths by promoting “a youth friendly city” where the indicators will be defined by the youths.

    One of the first activities is a Participatory Community-Based Assessment aiming to identify and map the poor conditions and vulnerabilities of their neighbourhood and give them skills to both push the relevant authorities to prioritize the slum communities and to collaborate with relevant authorities in the design and implementation of concrete plans to improve conditions in the slums1.

    The objective of Valid International’s input and support was to prepare Plan Senegal, and specifically the Urban Dakar Programme Unit, as well as ADMG, EVE and the youth representatives, for the assessment activity by providing innovative methods and tools, including mapping tools. The activities facilitated by the Valid International consultant were part of a five day workshop that aimed to create a common understanding of the program.

    Two indicators were covered during the two and half days allocated for understanding and testing the use of the urban participatory assessment and its data collection in the urban communities: mapping and methods/tools. At the end of the three day workshop attended by the youths, the participants evaluated various aspects of the event. Whilst the formal compilation of the evaluation is not yet complete, it is possible to present the main outcomes specifically related to the two technical activities described in this report:


    Although the mapping exercise was undertaken by only a few participants, the maps produced were presented to all participants. This activity was highly appreciated and considered valuable for use as part of the assessment. This technology is particularly appropriate for data collection conducted by youths. The same material can be used for any additional mapping needs. The youths who did not participate in the mapping exercise were disappointed and suggested they be part of the mapping activity when it comes to the planned participatory community assessment, requesting that they be provided with tablets for this purpose.

    Key recommendations on mapping are:

    • PLAN Senegal to consider the use of tablets for mapping the various infrastructures of the three Communes targeted by the programme
    • PLAN Denmark o engage in a discussion with Valid International and Valid Measures to determine the most appropriate remote support to:
      • Develop an ODK questionnaire covering the assessment needs
      • Develop a website to transfer, analyse and produce simple maps
      • Train some people to produce further elaborated maps (with icons).
    Methods and Tools

    Several methods and tools were introduced to the participants, including:

    • List of key informants and coding
    • BBQ (Barriers-Boosters-Questions)
    • Mind Map
    • XMind software
    • Concept Map
    • Scoring system

    The limited time for the field activities meant it was not possible to cover each item in detail; the first three items were partially covered during the field activities and the last three items were only theoretically covered. This situation was already foreseen and the objective was to test the easy adaptation of the methods to the needs of the programme, as well as identify the interest of the participants.

    The evaluation indicated that interest in the various methods (mainly the first three) increased amongst the participants, whilst also highlighting the need for additional (longer) training to properly understand and apply each method. The VI consultant is entirely satisfied with the capacity of the participants to provide reliable information/data and felt that the participants grasped the essence of each method.

    Key recommendations on Methods and Tools are:

    • PLAN Senegal and PLAN Denmark to closely support PLAN Urban Dakar, ADMG, EVE, and the youth representatives during the participatory community assessment
    • PLAN Denmark if necessary, to discuss with VI and VM the potential scope and strategy for remote support to analyse the assessment data.

    Considering that the workshop has not yet been held in one country (Sierra Leone) we also recommend:

    • PLANDenmark to consider involving VI in the Freetown workshop and,if so,
    • To consider extending the duration of the workshop to allow time to properly cover the various methods/tools (minimum of two weeks). The opportunity to participate in the Freetown workshop would also mean VI and VM could further describe and document the key uses and value of each of the tools covered in the Dakar workshop.



    1 PLAN Denmark. Child and Youth-Friendly cities: Advancing children and young people’s rights to the city – An urban youth governance program in five cities.

    2 PLAN Denmark. Child and Youth Friendly Cities – Advancing Children and Young People’s rights to the City. Logical Framework.

    3 Association pour le Développement de Médina Gounass

    4 Eau, Vie et Environnement

    5 The programme will target 3 Communes but representatives of 1 Commune of a previous project were also invited.

    6 Diameguene Sicap Mbao (4 youths on 24th August and 6 youths on 25th and 26th), Médina Gounass (4 youths), Djedah Thiaroye Kao (5 youths). The commune of Niarème Limamoulaye, where the former project took place, participated with 2 youths.

    7 Valid International provided 5 Android-powered tablet devices

    8 Keyhole markup language (KML) is the Google file standard for maps used in their mapping products such as Google Earth and Google Maps.

    9 Tools presented during the workshop are based on material developed for Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) approach. Technical explanations are adapted from the related literature, mainly from: Myatt, Mark et al. 2012. Semi-Quantitative Evaluation of Access and Coverage (SQUEAC)/Simplified Lot Quality Assurance Sampling Evaluation of Access and Coverage (SLEAC) Technical Reference. Washington, DC: FHI 360/FANTA.


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