Ketso & community development in the Global South & BRICS countries


Ketso was invented in Lesotho and South Africa in the mid 90s as a tool to ensure everyone's voice can be heard in community development. It is now in use in 48 countries around the world. Ketso has been used to look at issues of child trafficking in Bangladesh, Lifelong Learning in Palestine, austerity and equality in Greece, education in Indonesia, and to help young orphaned men build entrepreneurial skills in Rwanda. More detailed case studies are shown below.

This section includes:

In addition there are several case studies about Ketso and work with refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in Scotland on this page.


Rural development with  Maasai Women's collective in Kenya

Arthur Getz Escudero, Researcher, Cardiff School of Planning and Geography

Last May (2014) we did an informal weekend workshop in the south of Kenya near the border with Tanzania (not far from Mount. Kilimanjaro).  It involved a Maasai Women's collective called Siana, and they are embarking on a very novel path to own and manage their own slaughterhouse. This follows on from their earlier ground-breaking work, including: acquiring their own cattle to manage and setting up a beadwork business to sell cultural crafts to tourists visiting the area. 

They really enjoyed working with the Ketso kit, as it was easy to use and allowed those not literate or able to write their ideas to draw pictures and discuss things together - making plans, identifying constraints, assets, linking ideas and other resources they would need. 

I also have been using a mind-mapping software (NovaMind) which helps to translate the visual results in interesting ways. I actually printed out a large poster of the translated Ketso map on laminated and thick paper to share with the Siana group - and they are using it to share their story with local authorities and others interested in their progress. I find that the marriage of the two techniques can be very effective, and have used it in several settings combining very different participants and aims. 

More recently I used Ketso at a meeting convened by the International Sustainability Unit of the Prince's Charities and the Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome - to help a small group develop a proposal around strategies to promote the concept of city region food systems.  It was very useful to bring very diverse institutional interests closer together to form a common sense of purpose, a shared profile and a core narrative to promote their collective vision.  While we had little time together, I think it helped create some stronger bonds while resolving some 'territorial disputes'.  A solid proposal has emerged eventually, and I dare say it owes a good deal to the rapid visualisation and discovery process Ketso helped to structure and make more explicit.

Ketso has been an essential tool in my field research, and I have really benefitted from the background analysis and methodological treatment of the larger sustainable development challenges written up in Progress in Planning back in 2007. 

I will certainly keep experimenting and sharing insights on how Ketso and other tools help facilitate these processes, thank you for lighting up such useful pathwaysand providing powerful tools to navigate them.

Author and photo credits Arthur Getz Escudero


Award winning community development work in Johannesburg

The “Bontle ke Botho", or Clean and Green Campaign, award was given for the best community development program in Gauteng, one of South Africa’s nine provinces. 

Kobedi (Dee) Pilane, Assistant Director Environmental Awareness and Policy integration in the Environmental Management Department of the City of Johannesburg says:

“Using Ketso in our work with communities helped us to win this prestigious award. Ketso encourages the involvement of everyone, willingly.

I love the fact that Ketso means action in my own language – and it has helped us to take real action to improve the environment. We are proud to be the first city in South Africa to use Ketso in our community work.”

Resilience Assessment Benchmarking and Impact Toolkit (RABIT): Pilot Implementation in Costa Rica

Dr. Angelica V Ospina. The University of Manchester, Centre for Development Informatics (CDI) and Cooperative Sulá Batsú

Ketso was used as part of a collaborative initiative titled ‘Resilience Assessment Benchmarking and Impact Toolkit’ (RABIT), implemented by the University of Manchester’s Centre for Development Informatics (CDI), and the Cooperative Sulá Batsú (Costa Rica).

Overall, the use of Ketso was seen as extremely useful to strengthen the appropriation of the project by the local partner organisation, and for gathering useful feedback on how to implement the next steps of the project more effectively in the local context. Because of its participatory nature, Ketso also helped to gain a solid understanding of the views and expectations of each of the participants in the RABIT project.

The planning of the Ketso session was based largely on the use of the vast array of resources and examples that are freely available at the Ketso website, including workshop plans, case studies, slides and training videos, which were extremely useful. Although reference to these resources facilitated the planning, the process required some additional time for the translation of materials into Spanish (see PPT with guidelines to implement Ketso - in Spanish).

Participants identified numerous strengths in the use of Ketso. Among them, the fact that the methodology allows everyone to participate, and fosters the visualisation of key issues, especially vulnerabilities and potential solutions (crucial when working with communities). They also noticed that, as the activity progressed, participants started to express their ideas more freely and with more confidence.

“In my opinion, Ketso is a tool that allows for a more organised and equitable discussion among participants (as each person has an opportunity to share his/her ideas). Ketso also allows for a more inclusive exchange, as it offers the possibility to write or to draw their ideas (although this last aspect can be challenging for the facilitator when it’s time to systematise the results). I found very useful the fact that, at the end of the exercise, participants can observe a sort of “collective mental map”, and can identify areas of consensus and of dissent, which generates important reactions and exchange among participants” Mariana, Sulá Batsú.

“ The Ketso material is very well designed; it is very nice both visually and tactilely. The methodology is simple to use, and can be applied to any kind of audience; it’s user-friendly, and motivates people to work in the suggested format. For a group like Sulá Batsú, where facilitation and knowledge exchange is part of our daily work, Ketso can be a very valuable tool for internal and external use, particularly for our work with communities”. Vivian, Sulá Batsú

  • Download the full report from this workshop.
  • Download the workshop plan used in this Resilience Assessment Benchmarking and Impact Toolkit (RABIT): Pilot Implementation workshop
  • Click here to access Ketso materials translated into Spanish

Images: KETSO Workshop on ICTs and Resilience to Climate Change, held with the community of Barrio Lujan, San Jose, Costa Rica, led by Cooperative Sula Batsu in collaboration with The University of Manchester

Engagement with Coffee Growers in Uganda

Dr. Angelica V Ospina. The University of Manchester, Centre for Development Informatics (CDI)

Ketso is being used in Uganda by Gumutindo Coffee, a coffee growing cooperative, to explore resilience to climate change. This was part of The University of Manchester's Centre for Development Informatics’s RABIT project:
Assessment Benchmarking &

RABIT is a toolkit aimed at strengthening the resilience impact of planned or implemented initiatives in low-income communities, and the work in Uganda was a collaboration between the Centre for Development Informatics and Lutheran World Relief. The foundational work on resilience has been developed in this paper (pdf).
The aims of the project in Uganda were to:

  • To benchmark the resilience of Mount Elgon coffee farmers to the impacts of climate change.
  • To benchmark the role of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) in the resilience of Mount Elgon coffee farmers.

This used a mixed methods approach, with Surveys (54 respondents), semi-structured  interviews (16 particpants) and 5 focus groups using Ketso as the tool for engagement. The cooperative found Ketso useful, and  a kit was purchased for ongoing use in Uganda following this pilot project. A full report from the RABIT project will follow soon.

Research into climate change vulnerability and adaptation in urban areas in Cameroon

Ketso is being used in a major project looking at adaptation to climate change in five African Cities. CLimate change and Urban Vulnerability in Africa (CLUVA) is an European Union funded SEVENTH FRAMEWORK PROGRAMME: Environment (including climate change). This project falls under the theme: Assessing vulnerability of urban systems, populations and goods in relation to natural and man-made disasters in Africa.

Workshops with Ketso have been held in Tanzania and Ethiopia. It has been used for social vulnerability assessment in Ouagadougo, Burkina Faso.

This image shows Ketso in use with stakeholders in Douala, Cameroon. The aim of the research activity was a study the vulnerability of urban agriculture and mangroves to flooding in a neighborhood of Douala: Mambanda. Mambanda is a district of around 17,000 people in the city of Douala, which has high exposure and a past history of impacts from floods and rising water level rise.

This workshop was organised by Rodrigue Aimé Feumba, Dr Jean Noèl Ngapgue and Monique Tatsaa Ngumouo of the University of Yaoundé 1 ( ENSP). The Cameroon team is lead by Prof Emmanuel Tonyé.

Download the research briefings from the project here.

Conducting Organisational Needs Assessments with Women’s Organisations, VSO, Nepal 

by Lula Belinfante, Organisational Development Advisor for Sankalpa Women’s Alliance for Peace, Justice and Democracy. VSO volunteer

I have developed an organizational needs assessment methodology, using Ketso which I am presently (summer 2013) using with 13 women’s organistions in Nepal. The needs assessment focuses on three areas:

1) Internal organization; effectiveness, efficiency, operational mechanism

2) External relations, networking, mobilising local resources, public relations

3) program; program effectiveness program efficiency, program delivery mechanism.

The needs assessment has been used as a platform for organisational change and development.  For example organisations have identified their needs as: development of strategic plan, development of monitoring and evaluation framework, development of communication strategy and policy, human resource development more innovative ways of working.

At first I conducted the needs assessments without Ketso by just asking questions, I found that this was not an inclusive process for all the participants. When I started using Ketso, the whole process felt a lot more positive, the participants were immediately engaged and interested and everyone got an opportunity to share their views.  It was also really easy to make links between what had been discussed at different points and then review priorities at the end. Participants were really excited about using  Ketso and the opportunities that it could bring to their organisation in the future.

As well as using Ketso, I made use of the resources on the website. For instance, I used the spreadsheet that Ketso has developed for inputting the results, which I found really useful. I think I will also run some training on how to use Ketso in the future, and I will use the powerpoint presentation developed by Ketso for this.

Using Ketso to carry out research on volunteering with VSO in Nepal

Lizzie Hacker, VSO Volunteer Researcher, Nepal

Ketso is being used in a major Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) project called Valuing Volunteering, which is looking at the impact that volunteering has on poverty. Nepal is one of the five countries the research focuses on. The project is using a ‘Systemic  Action-Research’  approach, where stakeholders are involved in each stage of the process from researching the issues to planning the action.

In Nepal, the research has focused on volunteering and education. In several schools, we have met with a mixed group of stakeholders including students, parents, teachers and volunteers. At these meetings we have explored the emerging issues in detail, looking particularly at their causes and effects, and linkages between issues.

The Ketso kit has made it possible to write down and map out the issues in a participatory way, because things can be changed, moved around or added. During the workshops, we have called the Ketso felt the ‘magic carpet’ and this has created an informal atmosphere and allowed people to feel that they can interact with it freely. The maps we made with Ketso really held people’s attention and helped to create a positive space for discussion.

Community development and skills training in Swaziland

Emma Granville, Strategic Director, Guba

Guba is a community NGO based in Malkerns, Swaziland. We focus on dynamic skills training in appropriate technologies, natural resource management & sustainable agriculture. To enable us to place more emphasis on quality as opposed to quantity, our approach emphasizes the 'local' & 'slow' movements: we work to improve the quality of life of people in our local communities through skills development rooted to the land.

Part of our commitment to our local communities can be reflected in our commitment to our team & our own skills development. We trial much of what we teach through our team on our purpose built farm. If we can't grow, build or use it, then we don't teach it. Our mistakes represent our learning & form part of our training outcomes. Planning & design are a huge part of what we teach & probably represent one of the weakest links of approach in Swaziland: a context dominated by poverty, HIV/AIDS & poor education. This is something we must learn to share with our trainees but to do so, our team must understand it & understand with enough depth to facilitate accessible & fun learning.

This is where Ketso comes into the picture. It has become integrated into both the planning & design of our training delivery AND the skills development of our staff. Ketso enables us to simultaneously teach AND learn by using it to plan & design our training projects together as a team. Ketso allows for a number of people to share their ideas & thoughts in a structured way, simultaneously without confusion or too much brain straining! If your approach is eclectic & multi-tasking comes naturally, you can use several different coloured leaves which represent different planning components at the same time. If you think in a monochrome way, you can take each component & brainstorm in a methodical way that suits you. Ketso provides a unifying structure for people from different educational, cultural & professional backgrounds to find a common planning & design language. This process of mapping out your planning & design using the common language of Ketso is what makes learning on-the-job accessible & fun.

Strengthening our staff team through project planning & design training is central to the delivery of quality training opportunities which will in turn, strengthen our local communities. Ketso has provided an interactive & accessible tool for a small NGO like us to reach this goal.

Capacity Building and Development Agencies, Research in Kenya

PhD Project by NANCY NJIRAINI, at the University of Glasgow

This PhD explores the way in which development support takes place in order to ensure meaningful progress and self-reliance.  It looks at the role of international development agencies and that of the community being supported.

It will explore the process of developing capacities designed by development agencies and deployed among developing communities, to examine what affects slow development and causes growth stagnation. Progressive development would require that individuals and organisations learn to identify their shortfalls then set and achieve their own development goals. Ketso is being used as part of the research data collection process, in focus group discussions in order to effectively engage the participants.

This specific group shown on the right is part of a project dealing with sanitation and bio-gas process in a settlement in Nairobi, Kenya. The following is a quote from a participant at this focus group in March, 2013:

"I have enjoying using KETSO because I was able to give my opinion without fear. Before that, I would have had to think about what I was going to say and how it would be perceived. It also takes a short time to communicate more ideas because we all write at the same time rather than wait for each person to speak out their idea." (Dan, Participant)

Participatory approaches to poverty reduction in Russia

In late 2011, Ketso was introduced to the Nizhny Novgorod State University and used in participatory research in Russia.

Participatory approaches to poverty reduction: a view from small-town Russia
The main period of fieldwork took place in November 2011 in the small provincial town of Pavlovo, Nizhny Novgorod Region.

A team of 6-8 researchers, led by Prof Nina Ivashinenko (Professor of Economic Sociology, Nizhny Novgorod State University), worked together on this research. The other researchers were: Dr Ann-Mari Satre (Senior Lecturer in Eurasian Studies, Uppsala University, Sweden) and Prof Rebecca Kay (Professor of Russian Gender Studies (Central and East European Studies), University of Glasgow). 

In addition, one participatory consultation event was organised bringing together a range of stakeholders from policy makers, social service professionals, current and former welfare recipients etc. This workshop was facilitated using Ketso. 

One participant commented on the use of Ketso: "You should play this with Putin!".

To read more about the project, click here.

Ivashinenko, Nina (2014) Searching for a New Approach to Face Poverty on the Local Level, a Case Study in a Small Russian Town, Journal of Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe, 22:3, 403-419, DOI: 10.1080/0965156X.2014.988493


Exploring drinking water practices in Peru - innovative knowledge exchange following research

This work has now been published in an open-access, peer-reviewed journal article, which can be downloaded here.

Dr. Claire Furlong

Following PhD research into drinking water in the Peru, a grant from the ESRC was awarded for knowledge exchange in the community where the original research was carried out. The idea was to discuss findings from the research and develop capacity, so that household drinking water managers could make informed choices when managing water. Five workshops using Ketso were held with between five and nine participants. A total of 35 participants attended the workshops, which was one third of those who participated in the previous study. The participants ranged in age from 16 to 70 years, and 91% were women, as with the previous study the workshops were aimed at the household water managers.

Participants were asked to give verbal feedback on the process used: participants said that they had enjoyed the experience. They positively highlighted the game-like nature of the process and how this made it interesting. Several participants commented that the tool enabled everyone to participate in the workshop. 

One respondent stated “…. it was good because we have all given ideas”.  In all of the workshops participants highlighted the uniqueness, in their experience, of being involved in a participatory process, one participant stated “…we are used to being dictated too, but it is nice to be able to give our ideas”, while another commented that “…we are not used to thinking about such things, we are normally told what to do”.

Adapted from paper written - 35th WEDC International Conference, Loughborough, UK, 2011-    



Ketso in Community Development in the Middle East

Anas Tawileh (Project Consultant with the International Development Research Centre IDRC)

The ICT4D Middle East planning workshop was held in Amman, Jordan early in 2008 in order to identify local issues in five countries in the Middle East (Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Syria and Yemen) within four thematic areas:

  • Women participation
  • Education and Employability
  • Governance
  • Community and Local Development

The 31 participants came from a range of sectors. They included researchers, practitioners and representatives from NGOs and the civil society. The age varied widely, between 23 – 64. Participants reacted very positively to the kits and used them very effectively.

Download the full report here.

Ketso is also being used in Universities on the West Bank and Gaza to develop 'Lifelong Learning in Palestine' through the European TEMPUS programme. Click here to find out more about GRAMNet's use of Ketso in research and community development.

Ketso reintroduced to South Africa in 2010

in 2010 Joanne went back to South Africa for the first time since she was working there in the mid 90s. Working with Dr. Eben le Roux, a former PhD student, she gave three research seminars at the University of Pretoria. A half day workshop looked at the sustainability framework she developed in research with the Sustainable Consumption Institute. This was attended by participants from across the University, as well as Toyota, Mass Mart and Johannesburg Municipality. 

A second seminar covered the research innovations developed in the action research she has been doing with Tesco and the Sustainable Consumption Institute.

A third introduced Ketso as an enterprise to a range of business students.

Ketso was used to explore issues ranging from a future sustainable South Africa, how to make a cola drink more sustainable,  (shown to the right) and how to encourage an entrepreneurial approach to local economic development in South Africa.

She also gave workshops facilitated with Ketso for the Royal Bafokeng Institute and Tlholego Development Project in the Rustenburg area of South Africa.  Both of these organisations are now using Ketso in their work.

This picture shows Ketso being demonstrated to the villagers at Tlholego, back where Ketso was originally developed in the mid 90s.