Can’t wait to learn from post-project sustainability evaluation? If not why?

» Posted by on Nov 29, 2017 in Aid effectiveness, Better Evaluation, ex-post evaluation, Honduras, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, post-project evaluation, Sustainable development, Sustained and Emerging Impacts Evaluation, USAID | 0 comments

Can’t wait to learn from post-project sustainability evaluation? If not why?

A colleague who has been promoting ex-post sustainability evaluation in her organization questioned my claim that doing them had “benefits” for future programming. It was an “untested assumption that there will be sufficient, strong enough evidence to apply to future programming…  [and] the need to have evidence to cite for future work is not pressing enough.”

If you are on aid’s receiving end, what you care about is that good results are sustained, and you are able to live better, longer. You might want to show others evidence of what was sustained, rather than only what worked while external investments were there but stopped since. Absolutely, aid donors need to have evidence that something designed, funded, implemented, and monitored & evaluated showed good results, but we assume our results will be sustained after we have closed out and moved on. How well have we done? Let’s see.

At the American Evaluation Association meetings this month, several post-project evaluations were presented. Some came from Valuing Voices research, some from Social Impact, PLAN and World Vision and some others.  Results 3-5 years post close-out were, shall we say unexpected, from Madagascar:

Nigeria,

and Honduras.

While there were some successes, including Niger

and Burkina Faso, where MCC/ PLAN found that three years post project “BRIGHT still had a significant positive impact—6.0 percentage points for children between ages 6 and 22—on self-reported enrollment. The impacts are smaller than estimated impacts on enrollment at 7 and 3 years after the start of the program,” they were rare.

If we don’t wonder why things didn’t work or why they did, and don’t return to find out if it happened again and what to do/ not to do again?, Often we continue to do very similar programming elsewhere, again assuming great results. How can we close our eyes and not do post project, Sustained and Emerging Impacts Evaluations (SEIE) and see, learn, do better?  How can we continue to do very similar water/ sanitation, health, food security, and education programs and projects (with potentially similar results), and call ourselves sustainable development professionals? Shouldn’t we always ask not how effective is our aid when it’s there, but after its gone?

If you want more data, see a presentation we did at USAID. What do you think?

29 years of listening to participants in Africa, Latin America, the Balkans, Europe and the US. I Value their Voices. Let’s have sustained impact!

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