PMD Pro: a community development tool

AMA, the Highland Women’s Association, was set up in 1994 by Mayan women from rural communities in Western Guatemala. Economic and social pressures, and changing weather patterns have made these communities more vulnerable, and AMA has found effective ways to build the skills, tenacity and capacity of women as agents of change in their villages. Twenty years on, AMA is now a strong, grassroots association with 200 member organizations and a reach of thousands of people.

“In 2007, we secured funding from a donor organization for a new project. However, as we started work, we realised that we had not given enough thought to planning the initial stages,” says Claudia Ramirez, AMA’s Fundraiser. “We needed to clarify our objectives and to write better proposals in the future, so we decided to look at PMD Pro to learn how to structure a good project.”

“Three of us attended the first PMD Pro training course, and two of us were certified (passing PMD Pro 1). We worked hard to communicate what we had learned, and while it was complicated at first, many of our staff members have now read the PMD guide. We soon learned that all of our staff needed to be able to communicate with each other using the same common language about projects, and our plan is now to train community leaders so that we can have good, objective, conversations about our work.”

Recent AMA initiatives include installing fuel-efficient stoves in homes, reducing dependence on firewood and improving the health of families who no longer have to breath in smoke. The time that women spent using wood fires for household tasks has also been freed up for more productive activities. AMA has enabled 150 women to develop skills and techniques to sell traditional woven cloth direct to buyers. Meanwhile, men in some villages have worked on sewerage projects, installing new drainage systems to improve health and sanitation facilities.

“PMD Pro has been useful in helping us to identify different project phases and to understand what tools to use at each stage,” continues Claudia. The Log frame and Baseline tools have enabled us to structure more realistic projects and we now have the tools to track our funds. We know which areas of our work need more funding, and can track areas where income is coming into AMA. We have better control over our spending, and this has also give us the confidence to present our work to donors.”

“It is important for people working in social development to have a good level of education so that they can use tools such as a Log frame to present information to donors. Communities won’t have this level of knowledge, but it is also important that they understand what is happening. It would be great to develop a form of PMD Pro that is practical and appropriate for beneficiary communities to use in their work.”

— Claudia Veronica Ramirez Ovalle
AMA’s Fundraiser