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Useful Impact Assessments in A Climate of Donor Driven Demand. Maureen O’Flynn. IA the way I see it. Impact – So What?. Impact Assessment addresses the “So What” question... Thousands of “ successful ” projects and programmes make no lasting difference to people’s lives.

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impact so what
Impact – So What?

Impact Assessment addresses the “So What” question...

Thousands of “successful” projects and programmes make no lasting difference to people’s lives

make impact assessments more useful 4 key messages
Make Impact Assessments more Useful: 4 Key Messages
  • Be honest
  • Be realistic
  • Be clear
  • Be practical
be honest
Be Honest
  • When was the last time you told a lie, or were economical with the truth?
  • Why did you do this?
  • So what’s this got to do with M&E and Assessing Impact?
conditions needed to enable honest impact assessments
Conditions needed to enable honest impact assessments
  • Trust
  • Understanding of what’s needed
  • Capacity and support
  • Time
  • Belief that the exercise will lead to positive results
be realistic
Be Realistic
  • Two parts:
  • In terms of understanding contributions
  • In terms of scale and reach..
transpose this thinking to tanzania and a 14 year old male student bahati
Transpose this thinking to Tanzania and a 14 year old male student, Bahati..

........................... And how realistic is attribution?

slide11
So many “successful projects”.. So little change in people’s lives...
  • How to realistically understand organisational efforts in relation to change?
  • Understand your organisational Spheres of Influence and plan your assessment of impact accordingly
assess impact for direct spheres of influence illustrate impact for indirect spheres
Assessimpact for direct spheres of influence; illustrate impact for indirect spheres

Indirect

Direct

be realistic in terms of reach
Be Realistic in Terms of Reach
  • Its no good claiming impressive scale and reach or
  • giving too many figures in an attempt to please.. or to be seen to contributing to MDGs....
  • Different orgs are using and therefore repeating nos ( e.g. HIV in Nepal)
be clear
Be Clear:
  • Staff and partners need to understand difference and complementarities between M&E and impact
  • Linking reasons for Impact to approaches..
  • Plan for impact from the start of interventions
linking reasons for impact to approaches
Linking reasons for Impact to approaches

What’s the main driver?

  • Demonstrate success?
  • Improve performance?
  • Be accountable to the people (stakeholders) for whom we are working?
  • Use the findings from impact assessments to advocate for changes in policy and legislation?
three possibilities approach 1
Three Possibilities: Approach 1

A retrospective study of a project which has, typically, been planned using a linear approach to change

The main purpose is to test or verify whether the logic of the project was correct: did it achieve the changes that it set out to?

approach 2
Approach 2:
  • More process driven – and less judgemental – than the first.
  • Stakeholders are involved in all stages
  • Makes use of the concept of emerging change.
  • Purpose:
    • Work with stakeholders to visualise changes they want to see in their lives and support them to track progress
    • Empower stakeholders
    • Contribute to organisational learning.
approach 3
Approach 3:
  • Similar to second but “turns the telescope round”. Takes place some years after the completion of the project or programme
  • Identifies changes that have taken place within the community, and then to consider to what extent they can have contributed to change in defined areas
  • Purpose
    • understand to what extent organisational efforts are making a difference to the lives of the people they claim to be working with and for.

All organisations need to consider carrying out from time to time.

develop a theory of change toc
Develop a Theory of Change (ToC)

What are they?

  • They differ from (but can complement) logical framework thinking in that they:
    • describe a causal pathway by specifying what is needed for goals to be achieved
    • require the articulation of underlying assumptions which can be tested and measured.
    • change the way of thinking about implementation strategies: the focus is not so much on what will be achieved, but rather what will change?.
  • They can be set at different levels - organisation, programme and/or project
climate change and development knowledge network cdkn toc framework
Climate Change and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) ToC Framework

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

Problems CDKN aims to address

Underlying causes of these problems

Vision

Principles of engagement

Who we work with

(target groups)

How we work with them (strategies)

To achieve (medium and long term outcomes)

CDKN Goal(s)

dimensions of change
Dimensions of Change
  • Organisational ToCs can be further developed by identifying “Dimensions of Change” (DoC) to which all of their efforts will contribute.
  • These DoC form the backbone of their impact assessment process.
    • They are inter-related: any one project or programme may be supporting changes in one or more of these dimensions.
    • All organisational interventions should be explicitly working towards changes in one or more of these dimensions.
    • They are usually designed to be interpreted according to regional and national contexts, but broad enough to be able to facilitate comparability across different regions and countries.
  • Progress against these dimensions is assessed through monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment processes.
be prepared
Be Prepared
  • Plan for impact at the start of the project/programme
  • Be clear about who is responsible for what
  • Build IA processes into existing systems and structures
  • Use a few tried and tested tools over complex and clever ones
  • Use findings widely and creatively for increased impact of impact assessments
plan impact from the start cdkn impact assessment plan
Plan Impact from the start:CDKN Impact Assessment Plan
  • Four distinct but complementary strategies, based on DoC:
    • Ongoing monitoring of impact built into many of the M&E reporting formats, and impact data w gathered routinely alongside other M&E data.
    • Part of the mid-term review and evaluation process
    • Tracing study carried out over the life span of the project. This will focus on how identified sample groups are changing and developing as a result of on-going CDKN efforts, in relation to the dimensions of change.
    • Retrospective study will take place some time after the completion of the project. Will assess the changes relation to the dimensions of change, and to what extent CDKN was able to contribute to these changes.
build ia processes into existing systems and structures
Build IA processes into existing systems and structures

Add this set of questions:

  • In relation to Dimensions of Change:
    • What’s changing
    • For whom
    • How significant is it?
    • Will it last?
tools
Tools

Think time and capacity and resources:

  • Use a few tried and tested methods (which allow for triangulation) over complex or innovative and untested ones that are not clearly understood at field level.
  • Involve stakeholders in gathering information. Build their capacity to do this effectively
  • Remember:
    • MSC takes time and can be used very inefficiently
    • Old favourites are good (FGD, SSI, Interviews)
    • Appreciative enquiry is empowering
    • PRA tools are good
use findings widely and creatively for improved impact of impact assessments
Use findings widely and creatively for improved impact of impact assessments!
  • For Planning ( based on findings) : scenario workshops, appreciative enquiry
  • For reporting/ advocacy: variety of media and other communication tools - youtube, video etc
make impact assessments more useful 4 key messages1
Make Impact Assessments more Useful: 4 Key Messages
  • Be honest
  • Be realistic
  • Be clear
  • Be practical
last tip don t give up or get cynical
Last Tip.. Don’t give up or get cynical!
  • Impact assessment can be rewarding and inspirational, especially when there is evidence that efforts have led to improved programmes and improved relationships with stakeholders.
  • Depending on the approach, it can either be complex and frustrating exercise, or an essential part of organisational planning and learning.
  • As development workers, we need to take the exploration of changes that we influence in people lives seriously.
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