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  • Sanjukta Moorthy

Template: River of Life

Use this template for the River of Life to help you plan and map a project. It's a great tool combined with the Most Significant Change approach to help any group tell a story about important moments in time, your context, your project, and your life.


You can use this with your communities, but make sure you're doing this with them, too - otherwise, it just becomes another extractive exercise! When you visit your people and ask them to describe their life through this template, take some time to do this yourself.


What important moments for each person, group of people, or community, would go into a river of life? Think about the 'chapters' of your own life. Suppose you're working on WASH practices, for example. In that case, you may want to design a River of Life exercise where people describe the availability of regular hand-washing facilities in their area. They may use the template to tell a story of how their access improved, as did their knowledge.


But a River of Life isn't just for the good parts of a story. Use the bends in the river to help tell a story of good and bad. Sometimes a well may have been dug, but maybe not everyone received training on maintaining it, so it fell into disrepair, setting the community back. Add that to the bend. What did you learn from it? What key decisions did you make? And what were the consequences?


You can look at everyone's rivers to evaluate how they view their lives, the interventions and projects that worked, and those that didn't, to see how you need to do better to help them meet their needs.


It can present key decisions and consequences and identify strategies that worked too. Doing so can give you much support in building a more effective project. It can help you answer questions about whether you met the need or if there are any remaining problems. This way, a River of Life can also be used for organisational, programmatic, and activity evaluations.


Click here to download the River of Life template
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