‘Measure what you treasure' to make the most impact in your region

Impact AssessmentNGO ManagementParticipatory TechniquesWorkshops

Programme Effectiveness Training recently took place at the Tearfund Central American office, covering Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. The idea was to strengthen staff and local partners to improve the quality of their projects and, with that, improve the impact they're having in the region. The experience brought a wealth of learning for every participant, but three elements in particular really stood out:

A man raises water from a well in Nicaragua. Photo: Virginia Lattul
A man raises water from a well in Nicaragua. Photo: Virginia Lattul

1. The power of good design (and real life problems) 

Doing a good problem analysis and thinking about your theory of change from the outset provides a strong framework for implementation. For this we moved on from using case studies in the training to allowing partners to select and work on a real life problem they are facing. They used this problem throughout the workshop letting them experience the challenges they would face when working on project design back in their contexts. This allowed us to provide more accurate and relevant assistance when facing those challenges. 

2. The influence of context on how change happens 

In every context there are forces that either enable change or inhibit change. Uncovering them, using the various tools the Programme Effectiveness Training provides, was key for the participants to begin to understand certain dynamics and how change happens in their environment.

The enthusiasm was tangible as Tearfund staff and representatives gathered in Honduras for programme effectiveness training. Photo: Carlos Molinero (from MOPAWI, Honduras partner)
The enthusiasm was tangible as Tearfund staff and representatives gathered in Honduras for programme effectiveness training. Photo: Carlos Molinero (from MOPAWI, Honduras partner)

3. KIS… yes, KIS (Keep It Simple!)  

Measure what you treasure – focus on what is important. There are many reasons to measure the outputs and outcomes of a project, and there is no one way or right answer. The key is to measure what best reflects the interests of the organisation and/or the stakeholders. 

The enthusiasm at the workshops was tangible and the partners are already adopting the tools they learnt in the training: using new problem analysis tools, building theories of change, setting up baselines and monitoring plans. The expectation is to continue serving better those living in poverty and contribute to transforming communities. 

You can find out more about the impact we are having in the Eurasia Latin America and Caribbean team (ELAC) by reading the Impact and Learning Report 2017.

Norman Molina

Norman Molina is Tearfund’s Design, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for Eurasia, Latin America and Caribbean; email: norman.molina@tearfund.org