VIPP is derived from two traditions–one from Latin America and the other from
In the 1960s, Paulo Freire established an approach aimed at conscientization of the powerless and oppressed in Brazil and
Chile. The methods galvanized people to organize themselves in order to articulate their needs and defend their rights. This approach involves groups of people in an iterative process of Action–Reflection–Action. It was adopted or adapted by many other progressive individuals and NGOs in many Latin American countries. Another Latin American root of VIPP is the work of Orlando Fals Borda in Colombia who applied the method of Participatory Action Research (PAR), the principles of which comprise a part of VIPP's philosophy today.
However, the second main root of VIPP is the visualisation approach of Metaplan in Germany which began with the work of Eberhard Schnelle and his Quickborn Team. These practitioners designed training methods in which decision makers and those affected by their decisions visualise their problems, needs and solutions together, so as to prepare for common action. In Germany, the first “Manual for Moderation Training” appeared in 1973. Since then, different scholars and trainers who work as consultants for German private industries and public administration have promoted such facilitation methods. The central characteristic of the methods is the role of a moderator or facilitator who helps groups give birth to collective ideas which are visualised on cards and paper of different sizes, shapes and colours and placed on pin boards throughout the group process. Colleagues of Schnelle built up ComTeam and published
Moderations Methode in German in 1980, the first ample handbook on these methods. The methods were further developed at the German Foundation for International Development (DSE), headed by Carl Kohlbach, with participation of the University of Hohenheim.
Then in 1991, Neill McKee, having earlier been exposed to the methods at DSE by Hermann Tillmann and Maria Angelica Salas, then from the University of Hohenheim, introduced these methods into the planning processes for social mobilization and communication in UNICEF-supported programmes in
and Tillmann worked with McKee in Bangladesh and they named the methods, “Visualisation in Participatory Programmes” or “VIPP”. VIPP synthesizes the approach of DSE, the visualisation techniques of Metaplan and the conscientization and empowerment approach of Freire and Fals Borda. VIPP is applicable to any situation where a group of people want to work together to analyse and plan development activities or to initiate interactive learning experiences. Two aspects are stressed: a humanistic and democratic philosophy underlying the processes and the central role of the facilitator who enables the generation of knowledge and encourages visualization in dialogue between people.