A Seasonal Calendar is a simple participatory assessment tool to explore and visualise seasonal changes. It provides community-level information about seasonal cause and effect relationships, raises awareness, stimulates discussion and informs planning and decision making.
A Seasonal Calendar is a matrix or table with a linear time scale on one axis (corresponding to the local calendar) and indicators of interest on the other axis. It can be drawn on the ground (e.g. using sticks) or on a big sheet of paper. Depending on the context or type of information needed, potential indicators or questions include: rainfall pattern, prevalence of diseases, changes in livelihood activities, income and expenditure for men and women, availability of money and time, availability of water, or agricultural activities. A facilitated discussion - sometimes in separate Focus Groups T.14 – can encourage the group to identify the linkages and potential underlying reasons for the differences highlighted. An adapted version of the tool can also be used as a daily activity calendar to, for example, identify what people do in relation to hygiene over the course of a day. A Seasonal Calendar requires a large open space for the target group to convene, a trained facilitator and paper, pens and markers (or sticks if drawn on the ground). It does not require a high level of expertise (or literacy) and is usually done in less than two hours. It can provide baseline information for planning and decision making (chapter A ) and, if done repeatedly, it can also be used as a Monitoring M.2 tool
The Seasonal Calendar is most applicable in the stabilisation and recovery phases but may be useful for an initial market assessment or to better understand changes in the local environment (e.g. times with limited road access) that are likely to affect emergency responses. The tool is more relevant if the participants have lived in the community and are familiar with changes in it over time. It may be useful in identifying times of, e.g. disease prevalence, labour or water shortages and suitable times for WASH infrastructure construction (e.g. after harvest when time is available). It can support community-based climate change adaptation measures.
Have a local facilitator who speaks the language and relates to the culture and issues discussed
Consider using symbols or graphics, depending on literacy levels
Ensure that the matrix is large enough to be easily seen by all
Do not collect information without a facilitated discussion afterwards, enabling conclusions to be made jointly
Do not accept information uncritically; it is based on memory and triangulation may be needed
The IFRC developed and used a Seasonal Calendar for Vector Control P.5 of the zika virus to visualise information and analyse how climate change and social and cultural conditions in a specific context were affecting zika-spreading mosquitoes. It helped communities to track vector risks over time and empowered them to tailor their activities to seasonal risks with, for example, clean-up interventions at times of greatest risk.
IFRC (undated): Seasonal Calendar. EVCA Toolbox
Oxfam (2015): Market Analysis Application in WASH Response
IFRC (2005): Guidelines for Emergency Assessment
BetterEvaluation (undated): Seasonal Calendars
IFRC (2017): Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya Toolkit: Adaptation for Latin America and the Caribbean