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We apply mixed-methods that combines a toolset of qualitative and quantitative data, spatial mapping and stakeholder participation in our assessments. We adapt and tailor methods and tools to make them appropriate to the context and the particular assessment. The specific tools and processes are selected based on an initial mapping of key stakeholders, capacity and objectives. All assignments are undertaken in a spatial manner looking at specific geographical areas. Under, an overview of key tools that Urban-A uses, is provided.

Examples of tools:

 1. Participatory Tools

​Participatory approaches are used to involve relevant stakeholders, extract valuable local knowledge and anchor the process through local ownership. By participatory approaches, Urban-A refers to methods and tools which goes beyond data collection, to engage and empower the participants in decision-making, and harness local knowledge and ideas essential to the assessment / programme / intervention. In essence, participatory approaches involve the local community and / or key decisionmakers in meaningful ways, where the process can both represent an end in itself and a means to an end. We distinguish these direct participation approaches from more indirect approaches, such as ‘consultations’, to underscore the element of empowerment through decision-making and consideration of the views communicate through participation.

Whether or not to employ participatory methods must be considered carefully. A systematic analysis of who participates, in what way and for what reason should be undertaken before applying participatory methods. If participants are invited into the process, there must be a recognition of both the time and effort required on the part of the participants, as well as the expectation that the information will inform decision-making. The importance of managing expectations when engaging in participatory methods can therefore not be stressed enough. 

  • Structured Stakeholder Workshops

The structured workshops with for instance community or city municipal representatives is a valuable tool for discussions around priority interventions, policy directions or scenario planning. Most of Urban-As workshops include spatial dimensions, to contextualise and add granularity to the discussions within defined areas. A range of tools can be used for stakeholder workshop, to map, understand and discuss solutions for various factors, including economic, social, demographic, environmental factors.

  • Scenario planning 

Scenarios are created in a structured group-process to better understand what the future might look like. The objective is to develop better informed and more resilient policies and plans. The process, where different actors are brought together to discuss and agree upon a shared understanding of these futures, is as important as the scenarios themselves. Urban-A make use of Foresight methodology to work with scenarios in a systematic way.  

  • Participatory mapping

Participatory mapping refers to a collection of tools in which local knowledge and information related to a place is collected. This bottom-up approach provides us with insight into the local knowledge of a place and is an effective way of engaging with the local community. It can provide information on social, community and socioeconomic structures, local institutions, physical infrastructure, public space, important areas of gathering etc.

2. Data collection tools

  • Focus Group Discussions (open-ended discussions / structured discussions)

FGDs can be used for community engagement, to capture information from specific community groups / cohorts, or amongst various stakeholders within a city/town/neighbourhood. Focus Group discussions are valuable to collect information from specific groups and shed light on factors of particular interest for the assignment, as a complement to other forms of data collection. ​

  • Key Informant Interviews (KIIs)

KIIs are an important tool to get in-depth information from key resources and stakeholders at national, city, and community level to both add detail to collected data, as well help to add contextual understanding and fill data gaps.

  • Household survey

Household surveys allows for an in-depth gathering of population characteristics and additional data. Household surveys can be used for both quantitative and qualitative purposes. The scope of data collection is determined based on the purpose of the research, assessment or evaluation, and the research questions identified through initial studies and desk reviews. Factors such as timeframe, resources available and the cost of conducting household surveys, will determine the sample size, and whether quantitative or qualitative sampling size is desired or needed. Often a qualitative data set will give sufficient data for a study, while a quantitative data set at times is preferred for comparative analysis and analysis against indicators. This, however, requires a larger sample set and rigid quality control to ensure statistical robustness. ​

 3. Spatial analysis tools

Working in densely populated urban areas, the spatial mapping is valuable to refine findings from collected data, identifying nuances to needs and opportunities within communities. Pending availability and quality of maps, and the needs for the specific assignment the spatial mapping could include:​

  • Remote Sensing

Tools such as satellite or drone imagery represents an opportunity to investigate cities and urban areas through effective and efficient data collection, where the observations can be done frequently and with spatial precision. This is valuable to track human-induced changes, urban pressures, spatial-temporal analysis etc., to carry out rapid data collection for humanitarian response in the event of disasters, to access information on hard-to-reach places, and to quickly collect and process large amounts of data.

  • Map creation

On-the-ground mapping and geo-referencing of built up area, infrastructure etc. Can also involve highlighting or emphasising certain layers of existing data, such as for example the blue-green structures in an area, for communication and advocacy purposes.

  • Assets mapping

Mapping of e.g. community / municipal assets and usage area, to identify and make use of local resources.

Our experts are well versed in using and analysing the results from above tools. When collecting data, we will also identify local resources who can contribute to data collection, as well as provide contextual insight and quality control.

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