Georgian Waste Management Code
10 Aug 2016
A Noble Cause for Hacking Traditional Needs Assessment
Giving voice to people is what I like the most about my work in UNDP. Sometimes it simply means finding less time-and-cost-intensive means of engaging with a particular group of people (usually overlooked by traditional assessments) and recording what they have to say about a specific subject of interest. Luckily, we had yet another chance to experiment together with the Innovation Service Lab in the Government of Georgia and Georgian Environmental Outlook (GEO), an NGO conducting capacity assessment of government institutions engaged in the implementation of the newly adopted Waste Management Code in the country within the framework of UNDP Georgia Governance Reform Fund project. We eventually ended up producing an alternative way of what we traditionally call “rapid needs assessment” using tools from Project Cycle Hacker’s Kit developed by UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub and Nesta earlier this year.
What we wanted to test was the extent the rapid alternative assessment based on design thinking approaches could complement the ongoing process of desk review and face to face interviews being conducted by GEO local expert for planning follow up trainings for the relevant civil servants in waste classification. Together with the GEO expert we planned a one-day session for the frontline workers of the Ministry of Environment Department of Environmental Supervision in the field of waste management and control to explore mainly individual, and possibly, organizational and external needs for the implementation of the new Waste Management Code as seen by the workers currently engaged in the supervision and control of waste management practices of various actors across Georgia.
We first gave participants a brief introduction into the methodology of design thinking on the example of Innovation Lab facilitated projects for redesigning public services in Georgia;
Then we moved to “Value Ladder” exercise – eliciting possible expectations from the participants of the session, which also served as the assessment checklist at the end of the day to see if we covered all the topics of relevance to the participants and the purpose of the assessment;
We then asked participants to go through “Develop a Persona” tool to personify typical civil servants and their needs;
Then we used “Map Your User’s Journey” to look at the existing practices of waste management and classification broken down by positive and negative experiences and added by the layer of the existing skills or capacities of the staff.
What came next was imagining possible scenario of waste management/classification as the participants would see it, added by the relevant skills that they would need to develop to be able to fulfil the new obligations and functions.
As noted above, although our main interest was Department staff training needs, the participants ended up discussing the individual (staff) needs, as well as organizational and external factors that would contribute to the implementation of the newly introduced regulations.
What we learned was that:
- Overall findings of the alternative needs assessment session were in line with the desk review and person to person interview findings, among many others:
1. Institutional development of the Department of Environmental Supervision (highlighting linear relationships) to meet the emerging/growing needs in waste management at the national level;
2. Coordination of joint interventions with the other respective agencies through a memorandum defining competencies and inter-relation of various government agencies (i.e. in case of inspecting construction sites, or border crossing points);
3. Need in the setting up of a common data exchange platform for all the governmental and non-governmental entities engaged in waste management;
There were additional points of interest proposed by the workshop participants that had not been raised during traditional assessment, namely:
1. Staff training in communication and conflict management, as the frontline staff day to day operation envisages close interaction with waste producers;
2. Need in acquiring and training of staff in using various personal protection equipment (i.e. face masks, etc), as well as portable equipment (i.e. for measuring landfill methane emission levels);
3. Interest in replicating public-private trainings based on the positive outcome of joint trainings conducted for governmental and private sector representatives engaged in environmental activities.
Far from being ideal, this type of rapid assessment proved to be instrumental in identifying the needs of the front line workers traditionally overlooked by desk review or other types of interviews due to time or other constraints;
What makes me happy by the end of the day is that Innovation Service Lab in Georgia now has one more service in its arsenal to offer to other government agencies that can be replicated when developing training interventions for other relevant institutions in the future, both pertaining to waste management as well as other public service fields of expertise, provided that it is a joint exercise of the Innovation Lab and the key expert in the specific area, which was the case in this particular shadow needs assessment exercise.
If you have experimented with needs assessments or are interested in further hacking our prototype, please get in touch!