Impact of electricity
One way that we measured the impact of bringing electricity to a village was to go back and ask people to consider how electricity has changed their lives. We divided the villagers into men’s, women’s, and children’s groups. Some of their comments were:
- ‘Now my mother can read her Bible at night.’
- ‘Now we can watch TV.’
- ‘Now we can grind corn at night.’
- ‘Now the children can do their homework at night.’
Bob and Haedy Liu, Project Grace, China
One issue raised by health members working with Jamkhed Comprehensive Rural Health Project concerned the status of women. These indicators were chosen by village workers to show whether women’s status had improved or changed as a result of their work:
- Women able to participate in decision-making in the family.
- Women allowed to speak to leaders.
- Women able to participate in village affairs.
- Women actively involved in literacy classes.
The indicators were measured before and after their work with communities.
Impact on the poorest
If a person has one piece of clothing and you help her obtain another, that is a tremendous development. To have a change of clothes opens up the whole world and re-establishes her human dignity.
If someone who can afford only one meal a day moves to a situation where they can afford two meals a day, that is development of the highest order.
Keep your eyes on the poorest people.
Muhammad Yunus, Founder of Grameen Bank
At a recent consultation in Oxford, UK, where 140 people from 50 different nations met together, many shared moving stories of the impact of their work on the communities they served. These included children rescued from prostitution, drug addicts freed from their addiction, violent societies being transformed and working together. Lorraine Muchaneta working with FACT (Family Aids Care and Trust) in Zimbabwe, talked of her work with those infected with HIV and their families. She and her volunteers spend time with dying patients and their relatives and friends, giving them comfort, hope and value. She commented that while their impact on the carers and the changes in attitudes within the Church are visible; with the terminally ill themselves, the fruits of their work are not seen on earth. However, many make their peace with God before they die. Some of the impact of our work may only be fully enjoyed when we reach heaven.
Impact of new wells
When a new well was built in a village in Myanmar, people who used the well were asked to mark with a piece of chalk on a nearby wall to show the time of day. Over several weeks this simple exercise both helped assess the use of the well by villagers, and also helped the users to plan their visits to the well, thus avoiding delays at the busiest times.
Violence on the streets
Participants at a workshop on conflict resolution in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, discussed indicators to measure violence. One suggestion was to measure the amount of broken glass swept up on the city’s streets each morning. Another was to ask women whether they were willing to walk down certain streets.
Questions to help assess impact
To measure impact is very difficult, but extremely important. When you write proposals, set up goals which are possible to measure.
On the first day of a training course, ask people ten questions relating to the training. Then ask the same people the same questions at the end of the course.
I encourage every trainee to use a diary to record their daily activities and plans. This helps them to look back and see what they have achieved during a certain time. This helps them to consider if they are meeting the goals in the original proposal.
Rodhe-Maria and Martin Klopper, Jian Hua Foundation, China