LVCT Health

Tested violence against women prevention interventions: adapt or tear apart?

Over the years, several innovations have been developed and tested to address violence against women (VAW) and girls. These interventions seek to strengthen prevention and/or response to violence against women and girls. They include SASA! , IMAGESBystander InterventionSkhokho Supporting SuccessGood School Tool Kit, amongst others.

While positive results have been achieved through these models in the countries or projects they were originally developed, one question remains answered:

Do we adapt fully or tear apart these VAW interventions to suit country or project contexts?

Worth noting is that most, if not all VAW programs are donor dependent. Consequently, donors are sometimes inclined towards funding the adaptation of already tested and proven interventions.  This approach seems to have worked well as it has helped promote replication of tested models in more geographical locations by reducing the time to innovate. However, many programs do not make an effort to determine the whether to adapt the intervention or only pick components that work in their context. There is also no documentation of lessons learnt in implementing many of these interventions in different country contexts.

This was one of the key areas of discussion at the SVRI Forum 2017, held in Rio from 18th to 21st September. At this meeting, the following emerged as some of the steps organizations or individuals can take before deciding whether to adapt already tested VAW interventions fully or partially:

  • Work with experts in the field to determine if the adaptation will work in your program or country.
  • Involve the end users of the intervention or beneficiaries of the intended project  in designing  the intervention in order for them to determine what component of the original intervention suits their needs
  • Constantly engage with the team that developed the original intervention to agree on what can be adapted, what can be changed and what are the core elements of the intervention that should not be modified
  • Look at the differences between the populations  targeted by the originators of the  intervention vis a vis the  population  group you seek to target through your program, among others

What is your role in determining whether to adapt or tear apart a VAW prevention and/or intervention?

  • Set up an advisory group to include designers of the  original intervention, intended adapters  of the innovation and implementers of the proposed intervention to determine what  works
  • Maintain  constant dialogue for a transparent process between the originators of the innovation and the persons intending to adapt it

Is there room for saying “NO” to the adaptation of interventions, you may ask?

Currently, there is very limited evidence on what works in scaling or adapting VAW interventions. It is also important to note that, not all interventions can be scaled up.  Programs intending to adapt already tested VAW interventions should establish the following:

  • Duration takenin rolling out the original intervention Versus the time available to the project being designed
  • Whether the  demands for scale-up adhere to the core of the intervention

It is paramount for implementers working in the field of violence against women to realize that:

  • NOT every intervention can be scaled up
  • It is important to document the  adaptation processes so that people get to know the components  that worked for different geographical contexts

Conclusion: LVCT Health tested an adaptation of the Skhokho Supporting Success and Good Schools Toolkit in 2 primary schools. A summary of the findings can be accessed at

Whilst adaptation is important, we also need to continue to develop new innovative VAW interventions so as to enhance the body of knowledge.

By Carol Ajema


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