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Archive for the ‘Impact measurement’ Category

Design, monitoring & evaluation is one of the ‘key elements of accountability.’ Here’s a story from our colleague, Sarah Ralston at CARE International, who recounts the CARE experience in trying to capture evidence.

In the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt), CARE needs ‘evidence’ for its advocacy work.  But often this evidence does not always come naturally from our regular monitoring and evaluation processes, and it can be difficult to capture.  In reviewing all of our existing human interest stories and case studies, we found that we tended to only highlight positive outcomes of our work, rather than surfacing the ongoing negative effects of the conflict on their lives. We needed to capture these negative effects for our advocacy work.

So how can we better capture learning and use findings from our humanitarian programs for our advocacy work?  CARE West Bank Gaza has been exploring this over the past few months, and found a surprising answer:  it’s easy!  The first key ‘aha’ moment was realizing that we weren’t going to really be able to capture impact, which is often what we think of when we document evidence from our longer term programming.  But that’s not always necessary.  So we asked ourselves how we could surface some evidence for important messages in a quick, real-time way, and recently tried it out for two different cases. Here’s what happened:

Two weeks before the 5 year anniversary of the blockade on the Gaza Strip, the coalition of international organizations in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) decided to put together a media campaign supporting advocacy messaging to end the blockade. CARE was asked to be the lead in collecting case studies to support the statement.  We conducted a rapid ‘impact of the blockade’ assessment.  Partners and field staff asked some of the members of our community based organization partners a simple set of questions: “Five years ago before the blockade, what was your life like?  What is it like now – what has changed since then as a result of the blockade?  Five years from now, what do you hope your life will look like?,” We then went back to some of the beneficiaries in one of our projects for which we had already captured stories to learn more. We asked them more about why they even needed such a project (i.e. the blockade). From these two sets of people, we garnered some great quotes and inserted statistics.  On the day of the anniversary, all the material went up on websites.  We also used twitter for the first time, and the hashtag #EndGazaBlockade trended globally on the internet at number four, a rate of almost a thousand tweets per hour, and was picked up by media sites all over the world!

In the second case, we work in a village where CARE under threat of demolition from the Israeli authorities. One of our mobile health clinics was under threat.  We asked our field worker based near the village to talk to community members and ask them how they feel about the situation.  We wrote up a short 2 page article highlighting the outcomes of CARE’s health clinic work and photos, and how it and the rest of the village was at risk of demolition, and included quotes about the effects on people’s lives and how worried they are for their children.  In particular, we highlighted that women that CARE had trained as community health focal points were involved in medically treating protestors who had been injured by the Israeli army – certainly an unexpected benefit of the training we provided!  And perhaps most effectively, we used the petition website avaaz.org for a community member himself to call for the halt of the demolition, and circulated widely for people to sign (Click here to sign it yourself!)

What we’ve learned through these experiences is that applying the ‘good enough’ principle is important.  This is not to say that more rigorous measurement of outcomes isn’t still a priority.  To do so, we have developed several indicators capturing coping mechanisms and the way they change over time in line with conflict dynamics and our interventions, which is proving to be a good start.  But we no longer feel the need to wait until the end of major studies – we can be constantly engaged in ‘lighter’ efforts that can be highly effective.  We realized that we can capture the kind of evidence we need, especially for advocacy, by talking to community members, asking them a few questions about the effects of a humanitarian crisis on their life, and supplementing it with statistics, photos, videos and social media.

We leave you with a few tips we’ve learned.

Tips on capturing evidence:
* Coordinate with others when possible, but don’t let it slow you down unnecessarily
*  Always involve partners and communities and focus on our role in amplifying their voices
* Link stories and quotes with statistics to ground in ‘facts’
*  Use mixed media – twitter, facebook, articles, pictures, youtube videos
*  Use existing material – donor reports, case studies, human interest stories –but supplement them with specific questions

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