arrow_backEmergency WASH

T.48 Spidergram

Spidergrams can be used in a variety of ways and for different purposes. In an emergency WASH programme, they are useful to gather communities’ perceptions about their satisfaction with the services provided and their trust in the responding organisations. The Spidergram activity can be repeated to Monitor [M.2] change and discuss progress.

A Spidergram is a visual, participatory tool that can provide a focus for discussions with communities. It can be used with individuals but works better with groups. The objective of the activity is explained to participants and several lines are drawn on the ground or paper radiating from a central point. Each line represents a variable that will be discussed. For example, to investigate community satisfaction the variables could be listening and adapting, inclusion, contextual appropriateness, addressing specific gender-related needs, ownership and information and communication. Each participant is then invited to decide how well the programme is doing on each variable. For example, each participant is given five tokens and can then rank the variable from 1 to 5 along the spider’s ‘legs’ (five is very satisfied with community engagement; 1 is not satisfied at all). The results are discussed and a consensus ‘score’ is reached. Further discussion can then focus on suggestions for improvement. The end result of the Spidergram is a visual representation of the discussion showing a relative assessment of the level of community engagement for each variable, as well as suggestions for changes to the programme. The main requirements are: flipchart paper, markers, notepad, pens, tokens and a space to sit in a group to draw and discuss. Depending on the size of the group and the context, the process might take one to two hours.


The Spidergram can be used in all response phases and in a variety of contexts. It can be used at different stages of the programme cycle. It can be used during the initial planning stage to engage the community or used repeatedly throughout the programme, using the same topics, to monitor changes (e.g. in community perceptions, trust and level of satisfaction). The Spidergram can be replicated in different areas for comparison. If the process of doing the Spidergrams is led by community health volunteers, some training may be needed.


  • Start with a discussion so that the community understand the Spidergram purpose and process

  • Save the information collected on the Spidergram and use it to influence the programme


  • Do not rush the process; give people time to discuss

  • Do not use written text if participants have high levels of illiteracy. Use pictures to demonstrate discussion points

Practical Example

As part of a process to understand the barriers and enablers in their emergency WASH programmes in Bangladesh and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Oxfam used Spidergrams to measure community participation and satisfaction. They used five indicators: information sharing, involvement in construction, involvement in tap stand design, involvement in site selection and feedback mechanism. The results were used with other information gathered to adjust the programme’s focus and make changes based on the community’s feedback.

Key Decision Critria

Response Phase
Acute Response
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Protracted Crisis
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HP Component
Preconditions and Enabling Environment
Community Engagement and Participation
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Assessment, Analysis and Planning
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Social and Behaviour Change
Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (MEAL)
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Target Group
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Older People
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Persons with Disabilities
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Local Leaders
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Society as a whole
Application Level
Individual / Household
Community / Municipality
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Brief description of Spidergrams

Guijt, I. (2014): Participatory Approaches. Methodological Briefs Impact Evaluation No. 5, UNICEF Office of Research

Examples of Spidergrams for community participation in WASH programmes

Oxfam (2018): An Introduction to Community Engagement in WASH

Spidergrams to monitor level of community participation and satisfaction

Niederberger, E., Glanville-Wallis, T. (2019): Community Engagement in WASH Emergencies: Understanding Barriers and Enablers Based on Action Research from Bangladesh and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Water, Vol. 11(4)

The use of Spidergrams for a disability self-assessment

WaterAid (2018): Toolkit. Understanding and Addressing Equality, Non-Discrimination and Inclusion in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Work Part of Our Global Strategy 2015-2020