Sunday, 25 December 2016

Resolutions for 2017

Dear reader,
if you drop by regularly, you may have noticed that this blog has been in a state of semi-hibernation for a few months. I have been wildly busy working on a complex evaluation with a wonderful team; this will keep me busy for many more months to come. So, things will stay relatively quiet on these pages. But I'll add posts every so often. (At the moment, I am awaiting copyright clearance to repost the "sidekick manifesto" on development - summarised in a lovely infographic. Watch this space.) 

If you are looking for inspiration on evaluation - one of my favourite browsing pastures in that field is betterevaluation.org, which currently advertises a special holiday package of free gadgets, including - inter alia - the world clock meeting planner that identifies the best possible moment for meetings across time zones, the GeneraTOR software that helps you to draw up TOR, and a few graphics programmes for logical models (slightly more comfortable than designing diagrams with Power Point).

Meanwhile, all my best wishes for a healthy, happy and successful 2017!

Monday, 22 August 2016

Getting those indicators right

In the world I work in – social development – the terms "theory of change" and "indicator" have become essential. You can't just try doing something that might improve people's lives. You need to explain why and how the things you (plan to) do will contribute to the improvements you want to happen, i.e. you need to develop a theory of change. A common way to visualise a theory of change is the logical framework, which ideally shows how interconnected activities and their immediate products (“outputs”) are supposed to contribute to further-reaching changes, i.e. goals, objectives, outcomes, impact and so forth.


Your theory of change can be more or less abstract, more or less detailed and restrictive,

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Homa Hoodfar

Some days ago a friend forwarded a message to my inbox - "Homa Hoodfar indicted on unknown charges", it said. 

I met Professor Homa Hoodfar in 2009, at a conference on gender and religion hosted by the Böll Foundation in Berlin. Impressed by the workshop facilitated by Homa, I wrote about that event here. The group #FreeHoma offers a site that shows a selection of her publications.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Let's evaluate together

This is the time of the year when I would like to be able to clone myself, to respond to all those requests for evaluation proposals (RFPs) while busily working away on on-going jobs that need to be completed before the Northern hemisphere summer break breaks out. List servers publish new RFPs every day; as July approaches, the deadlines become increasingly adventurous. In late May, RFPs ask for offers to be submitted by the first week of June; the selected evaluation team would start working right away. It seems many of those who publish those last-minute quick-quick RFPs assume evaluation consultants spend their days sitting in their offices, twiddling thumbs, chewing nails or randomly surfing the web, waiting for that one agency to call them up and get them to work right away, tomorrow! Drop everything and work for us!

Monday, 18 April 2016

Work to be done: Ending violence against children

A recent report on the global prevalence of violence against children in the past year has shown that  more than half of the children in 96 countries across the world —1 billion children aged 2–17 years—experienced violence in the past year. Violence against children is a human rights violation. It makes people more likely to fall ill, and to  experience and perpetrate violence in their adult lives. In other words, violence is passed on through generations - even genetically, as it can alter a child's genes.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) call for an end to “abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children” (SDG 16.2) and to “eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation” (SDG 5.2). SDG 4 on education refers to the importance of promoting non-violence in several sub-goals, e.g. by calling for a non-violent environment for education (SDG 4.a).

With probably more than half of the world's children experiencing violence, major efforts are needed to attain the SDGs. For inspiration, have a look at UNICEF's Six Strategies for Action. If you know of any useful resources to share, please post a comment and share.

Friday, 1 April 2016

3500 evaluation reports for everyone - really everyone?

It is delightful to see that more and more agencies are publishing more and more evaluation reports on-line. Now, UNDP has announced, in a pretty infographic, its revamped Evaluation Resource Centre (ERC), which gives access to more than 3500 reports. A bounty for meta-evaluators!

But one thing that puzzles me: The video spot that explains the ERC, with its suave male speaker and friendly ambient music in the background, suggests that only men - or, say, short-haired trouser-wearing necktie-bearers - make decisions. Look at the visuals near minute 0.57 and 2.18. Little skirt-bearers are only acknowledged as members of "the public". What time and place do we live in? Dear UNDP! We know you can do much better on promoting gender equality, so why not flaunt it and show at least equal numbers of male and female decision-makers in your PR materials?

Thursday, 31 March 2016

More basic terminology

Here's another set of concepts that seem to cause a great deal of confusion. They are much used in results-oriented planning (often called results-based management or RBM). I like to explain them as follows:

Output = The direct result of an activity - something that is under your/ your project's control. For instance, I brush and floss my teeth several times a day, and the output is a clean set of teeth.

Outcome = Something that your activity is designed to help produce - but it takes some more factors for that kind of result to come about. For instance, I clean my teeth to avoid getting caries, so healthy teeth are my desired outcome. But my chances to have good teeth are much enhanced if I avoid eating sweets or very acid food, if I have healthy gums, if I have the right kind of genes, and so on. Even people with clean teeth get caries.

Impact = A long-lasting result that can be directly traced to an intervention. For example, if my dentist extracts a tooth, the impact is a gap in my mouth. 

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Evaluation terminology

Today a friend has asked me about the difference between findings and conclusions. I put it this way:

Findings:
  • Dust has gathered into small woolly clouds in the corner of the room.
  • Crumbs are scattered all over the floor.
  • There are a couple of spiderwebs in the corners of the ceiling.
Conclusion: This room is dirty.
Recommendation: Clean it.

Also a nice way to explain indicators.

Busy!

Deep into the evaluation of this exciting project, www.womenonthefrontline.eu Will be back by April with new posts...

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Happy New Year, good new reading

Happy new year! For me, 2016 starts with an exciting evaluation assignment spanning some 30 organisations in 7 countries. Which makes that I have a whole collection of topics I would like to write about here, but no time to do so at this point.

So I would like to recommend good new reading: DFID has just published the guidance note Shifting Social Norms to Tackle Violence against Women and Girls that draws on the growing body of literature on the topic. In my view, the best part of it are chapters 3-6 on Social Norms Theory and how to integrate it into programme design, all explained in relatively clear, straightforward terms.