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Design of a Community Ownership and Preparedness Index: using data to inform the capacity development of community-based groups
  1. Tom Thomas1,
  2. Pradeep Narayanan1,
  3. Tisha Wheeler2,
  4. Usha Kiran3,
  5. M J Joseph1,
  6. T V Ramanathan4
  1. 1Praxis Institute for Participatory Practices, New Delhi, India
  2. 2Futures Group, Washington DC, USA (formerly with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, India Office, New Delhi, India)
  3. 3India Office, Global Health Program, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, New Delhi, India
  4. 4Department of Statistics, University of Pune, Pune, India
  1. Correspondence to Pradeep Narayanan, Research and Consultancies, Praxis Institute for Participatory Practices, C-75, South Extension, Part II, New Delhi-110049, India; pradeepn{at}


Background Community mobilisation is an important component of a participatory approach to health and development interventions. However, it is challenging to define, measure and assess community participation and ownership of a programme, especially at scale.

Methods An iterative cross-sectional survey was designed for implementation across a representative sample of community-based groups, using a weighted index that captured both qualitative and quantitative data in a standardised form. These data were aggregated at the level of individual groups, as well as state-wide or across the whole programme. Community participation in the survey is a primary feature of the methodology and was integral to the process of designing the index and administering the survey.

Results The survey provided programme management and communities with objective tools for monitoring community mobilisation across a large-scale and complex intervention covering 32 districts in India. The implementation of the survey engaged communities in an open discussion of their goals and capabilities and helped them to challenge the power dynamics between themselves and other stakeholders.

Conclusions It is possible to translate the theoretical premises of participatory development into a tool that both measures and fosters meaningful participation. The active participation of community members in the collection and analysis of data on their mobilisation suggests that monitoring of participation can be undertaken to inform a scaled-up programme and can be a useful intervention in its own right.

  • Social science
  • community development
  • capacity development
  • public health policy
  • anthropology
  • AIDS
  • education
  • socio-economic
  • social inequalities
  • social capital
  • sexually transmitted disease

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: and

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  • Funding This study was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through the Community Mobilization Monitoring Project. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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