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Validate Your Plans

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Nigeria and Kenya both use the word “validate” for checking in with stakeholders and seeing if a program or message will work.  It is incorporated into programs and projects and is an inexpensive way to test messages, strategies and activities in order to get input and see if they will have the desired impact at the local level.

Citizen input or stakeholder criticism creates better outcomes.

Usually validation happens at a large meeting or series of discussions and it involves outlining the issue, strategy or message in order to determine if it will work or needs adjustments.  Local partners and stakeholders provide their views, and designated note takers capture their input and identify where there is consensus for any changes.

This works in places where people are not afraid to speak up, push back and challenge assumptions. It is easier than focus groups, individual interviews and works where there is mass mobilization around an issue.  In Nigeria, the capitol staff in Abuja validated what would work for increased enrollment in school in the northern provinces of the country in order to ensure that the campaign reflected local culture and ways to get work done there.  In Kenya, validation was used by the peace community to see if the system of early warning and intervention would work in local hot spots. 

Validation or a system of presentation with discussions, is not particularly helpful if presenting a new concept or tool that participants have not seen before, but it is good to check if something like a mass mobilization or communication will have a desired impact.