Sunday 10 February 2013

Measuring time with a yardstick?

Much of my work on monitoring and evaluation is with organisations that work on human rights and governance. It is harder for them to show they make a difference than for people who build roads or wells. Building a road is complicated, but the builders have reasonable control over the process and at the end they can say, "we have built a 50-kilometre road". Human rights and governance work is more indirect: it is not the intervention of  human rights organisation "X" that frees a prisoner - it is a prison guard, the last piece in a huge puzzle of actors and actions. It is not campaign Y that ends domestic violence in a woman's life - it is herself, when she leaves an abusive relationship, or the abusive partner when he stops battering, for reasons that are far beyond the reach of campaign "Y". And you can't blame, say, Amnesty International if the US government fails to close down the Guantánamo detention camp.