Map making 3: Consequences (or Outcomes)
Now that you have mapped activities and their immediate outputs, you can start to map what happens (or what you think or hope will happen) as a consequence of the outputs of your activities. This is often called an outcome, but it can be easier to think in terms of consequences (because there are different definitions of ‘outcomes’ for development projects, depending on who you ask and what you are trying to do). In this course, we will use these broad definitions:
Consequence = a result or effect of some previous occurrence.
Outcome = the beneficial results of the outputs, or what the project achieves.
Some examples of consequences / outcomes:
- Trained farmers establish water harvesting structures on own farms
- Literacy rates increased in the village
- Club members make compost piles around school
- Fewer visits to medical centres
- Health of villagers is improved
- Group produces vegetables for consumption & sale
Activity: For each output in your map, ask yourself the following questions, and add a new element to your map for each answer that you come up with:
What happens as a result of this output?
What are the consequences of this?
What happens next? / What do we hope will happen next?
You might have noticed that these questions are really all asking the same thing. It may help you to cycle through them as you work through your map, to tease out the changes that you are seeing or hoping to see.
How to add consequences
For each consequence/outcome you can think of, add one new element and place it to the right of the output that it relates to. Connect the output to its consequence.
Remember: when connecting two elements, start the connection at the output and connect to the consequence so that the arrow is pointing the correct way (from the output towards the consequence).
Q: Do outputs and outcomes have to have happened yet?
A: No they don’t!
On your map, outputs, outcomes and consequences can be:
- Observed (have happened or are happening)
- Expected (planned or on track to happen)
- Intended (hoped for / could be longer term)
Your map is laying out a theory of change [LINK?] for your project. Later, you can determine the extent to which things are actually happening.
Remember: All project outputs should have at least one consequence, and some outputs will have a few consequences.
Permaculture Principle: Integrate rather than segregate.
“Despite knowing that my project is designed so that each (or most) activity produces many outputs and that each important outcome is supported by multiple activities and outputs, during the mapping process, I still found myself hoping for a 1-to-1 mapping of cause and effect; a simple, linear path from Activity A to Outcome or Impact B. Of course, the map for Malawi Schools Permaculture Clubs ended up as a web of connections, and rightly so. But I find it interesting that I was seeking an over-simplified answer, one that my brain could digest in one go. I think that’s what we often do, and we miss the vital complexity of what is actually going on”. – Kate Swatridge, Malawi Schools Permaculture Clubs
Tip: You could ask project participants and the wider community what the outputs and outcomes of the project are. You may get some surprising answers! Add these to your map.