Collecting Evidence

In this section, you will learn how to document local impacts and analyze whether the project has complied with certain standards, including human rights standards, the environmental and social policies of development banks, or company or industry standards. You will also learn how to organize and present the information to use in evidence-based advocacy.

Collecting Evidence

Why Collect Evidence?

Recording and documenting the experience of the community you are supporting is crucial to successful advocacy. Collecting evidence and accurately reporting the harms that have occurred or are anticipated; the benefits, both existing and potential; and compliance with relevant standards is important for several reasons:

  • It helps ensure that the voices and experiences of the community are at the centre of the campaign.
  • The process of explaining and discussing a community’s experience can help it become more organized and think through all of the impacts of the project, both good and bad. This can help community members clearly articulate the problems they face and the solutions they seek.
  • It gives credibility to your advocacy and ensures that your claims are neither exaggerated nor understated.
  • It strengthens your advocacy by showing precisely how laws, policies, standards or codes of conduct have been breached.
  • It can form the basis of negotiations with responsible actors and an agreement for providing remedies and/or altering the project in a way that avoids harms and provides benefits to the community.

Collecting evidence involves gathering primary information directly from affected communities and other sources about the effects of the project on people and the environment. This information is typically presented in reports that include a description of the project and the affected communities, the results of the research, and an assessment of whether human rights, laws or other applicable standards have been respected or violated. Reports that find shortcomings or violations usually end with a set of recommendations for the responsible actors to provide compensation and/or to change the design of the project.