Grassroots Focus Index

One of the African Monitor’s programmes is the Grassroots Focus Index (GFI). It is a pilot[1] effort by African Monitor that seeks to generate an index that assesses and determines the extent of grassroots prioritization in development. The grassroots are broadly defined as the poor and marginalized groups whose voices are too disparate to be heard by policy makers. The index and overall GFI methodology is expected to provide a useful advocacy tool for promoting grassroots prioritization.
  • The GFI seeks to address the following key questions;
  • To what extent have African governments and donors been able to prioritize the grassroots in their development policy priorities and strategies?
  • To what extent (where such prioritization has occurred) has prioritization led to effective channelling of resources to grassroots development by African governments and donors?
  • To what extent are grassroots able to meaningfully influence government and donor policies and programmes, including resource commitments and flows?

These three questions formed the index’s three components/dimensions. Subcomponents and indicators were subsequently development based on ideas generated by grassroots communities through the concept mapping methodology. A rapid appraisal instrument was developed to follow up on the issues and the responses synthesized into an index. Weighting of the idex was done at both indicator, sub-component and component levels. Various weighting scenarios were developed in terms of weighting the three broad components and equal weighting was settled on

Progress to date:

The GFI is index is now out and we have a refined GFI draft document (longer version) as well as produced a GFI brief (shorter version). In the main, focus has been on strengthening GFI methodology, marketing the tool to promote uptake as well as seek partnerships for extended studies. Efforts are underway to raise awareness around GFI, build partnerships with CSOs, academic institutions, private sector in using GFI as a development tool as well as expanding the GFI survey.

The GFI has received widespread support from development stakeholders ranging from African  development institutions (such as UNECA, AfDB), Civil Society Organizations, Academic Institutions (such as University of Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa; Free State University, South Africa; University of Ibadan, Nigeria; among others) as well as private sector institutions, among others.

In addition to these engagements the GFI report has been submitted as an article with AfDB Journal, as a way of securing property rights around the concept. Comments from reviewers have been received and now we are finalizing them. 

Importance of GFI to development

Engagements with stakeholders ranging from academic institutions, civil society organizations, private sector, etc, around the GFI document has revealed the following importance of GFI to development;

  • The GFI concept and index is useful as a tool for advocating overall prioritisation of grassroots in development by donors, policy makers and CSOs. It provides a compas for steering development efforts where it matters most and this is at the grassroots level. 
  • The GFI provides an awakening reminder to development agents in terms in terms of what matters and what makes a difference to ordinary people. This is against the background that development agencies (CSOs, donors, government) are toiling hard to make a difference for ordinary people, but the outcomes on the ground do not match the efforts. 
  •  The GFI concept and index is useful for enhancing impact of Corporate Social responsibility Initiatives (in private sector) through providing a framework of what matters for grassroots. It is also useful as a basis for collecting and designing customer responses in assessment of customer-focus-ness of business. 
  •  The GFI helps initiating grassroots focused dialogues and engagements with policy makers and local authorities regarding key priorities for grassroots communities. 

Looking Ahead

Engagement with policy makers, CSOs, private sector, and academia will be intensified. This will be done with the aim of buy-in into the GFI methodology, advoting for policy practice change on the basis of the pilot results and African Monitor's grassroots work to date as well as partnership around extending the survey and enhancing our understanding around the issues. 

The pilot countries are South Africa, Nigeria and Cameroon. 


GFI Publication November 2011.pdf