Tasajera Tides is a local community indicator system (SIC) in Tasajera, El Salvador created to track trends and issues affecting the community and give a collective voice to its members. Comprised of 16 economic, social and ecological indicators, Tasajera Tides examines the complex system that is Tasajera Island and tells the story of its habitants.
A community indicator system is a monitoring tool comprised of economic, social, and environmental statistics. A CIS like Tasajera Tides allows community members to reach their own conclusions with the provided information and make informed decisions to improve their situation.
The project Tasajera Tides started as an academic initiative that emerged as a response to the lack of comprehensive community data in El Salvador. The proposal began with the thesis of Daniel Teodoro called "socio-ecological systems Governing: the role of information Capital in community information systems; an application to a coastal community in El Salvador" under the supervision of Dr. Laszlo Pinter - where the foundations of a CIS in Tasajera Island were described with a list of indicators and local stakeholders.
In the following year, with the help of Franklin Kirk Wright, the foundations became the Mareas de Tasajera project proposal. Wright is a Loran Scholar and student of Economics at McGill University in Canada. He is passionate about community development and has a unique knowledge regarding CIS projects having worked with Peg, a CIS in Winnipeg, Canada.
Daniel and Kirk traveled to El Salvador in mid-May of 2016 to develop Tasajera Tides and stayed until mid-July. The project continues to grow and develop.
Perhaps the most difficult task associated with the development of a system such as Tasajera Tides is finding suitable data. Credible data in El Salvador is relatively sparse. The central government does not track relevant data at the community level, and data from regional organizations is often either inconsistent or non-existent.
All data housed within Tasajera Tides has been analyzed according to a set of criteria to ensure its suitability for the system. Please refer to the figure below to learn more.
|Indicator selection criteria||Explanation||Rationale|
|Meaningful||Does this indicator directly convey important information about the community's economic, social or environmental state/development? Does it carry significance within the community? Can community members understand the indicator, see its relevance and use the information?||All indicators, with or without data, must satisfy this criterion. Indicators must be deemed meaningful by both the Project Team and by the Community Stakeholders Group. A meaningful indicator adds information capital to the system and therefore increases its value.|
|Available||Has this data been tracked in the region? Can we acquire it? Will data for this indicator be consistently available in the future?||The inclusion of data adds to the information capital of the indicator and the system. Continuity of data availability is also an asset.|
|Credible||Is the data source reliable? Was data collection responsible? Was the data collected in an ethical and appropriate way?||To preserve the integrity of the system and avoid counter-productivity, data sources as well as their collection methods must be reliable and ethical.|
|Unbiased||Does the inclusion of this indicator unnecessarily politicize the system? Does the indicator or its inclusion introduce bias?||The system must represent all sides of the community. It deals with facts and lived experience, must be politically neutral within the community.|
The Project Team worked with a Community Stakeholder Group to ensure that all indicators selected were meaningful and that no key indicators were omitted from the system. The combination of the Project Team’s knowledge regarding indicator systems and the Community Stakeholder Group’s wealth of experience in the community produced the indicator framework which can now be found within Tasajera Tides.
Availability was a difficult criterion to navigate, as there is relatively little by means of data available within the region. Many indicators were deemed meaningful, but no suitable data was available. In these cases, the indicator includes only a Voices of Tasajera entry and/or a written description of the indicator. While this is not ideal, qualitative information can prove to be very descriptive in the absence of quantitative data. Tasajera Tides shares all its data sources, and you will see that we draw from a diverse foundation of sources at various levels of society.
For some data, alternative sources were used to bypass potential credibility issues. Perhaps the greatest example of this was the data we collected on fish catch. Originally, we reached out to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and requested all data they had on fish catch from Isla Tasajera. The federal ministry then got the data from a municipal agency and sent it to us. The dataset we received was unreliable, as it had huge data gaps as well as some startling variances in numbers. There was something wrong with the story it was telling.
To solve this problem, we decided to go straight to the source of the data. The municipal agency gets its data from local fishing cooperatives, who record the data as the catch comes in. Through meetings with local fishermen and members of the cooperatives, we were able to acquire data straight from the cooperative. While this dataset does not cover the entire community, it is far more credible. It is also more meaningful, as it tells a more specific and accurate story within the community.
QUANTITATIVE VS QUALITATIVE
Mareas de Tasajera combines quantitative and qualitative analysis to provide the most information possible about the community. This is accomplished through our indicator data and Voices of Tasajera.
In an ideal world, we would be able to find suitable data for all indicators we are interested in tracking. Where no data is available, qualitative analysis through interviews and the sharing of stories allows us to gain knowledge about the community in an alternative way. Sharing community members’ lived experiences adds to the narrative of the community in a very human way.
With regards to indicators that do have available data, the addition of qualitative analysis and storytelling enriches the system by providing a human touch to the statistics. Every number, trend and correlation tells us something about the community, but just what story they are telling can be difficult to decipher. Voices of Tasajera provides a first-hand account of the issues affecting the community.
Perhaps the most meaningful aspect of Voices of Tasajera is its ability to help us understand how different indicators interact. When we have a better understanding of the complexity of community issues, we are better equipped to work towards the betterment of the community.
Tasajera is a beautiful island community in La Paz, El Salvador.
Navigate the indicators that make up Tasajera Tides and learn about the island.
Meet some of the people behind Tasajera Tides and find contact information.