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close this bookBasic Guide to Evaluation for Development Workers (Oxfam, 1995, 96 p.)
close this folder4 The purpose and use of evaluation
View the document4.1 Reasons for evaluation
View the document4.2 Judging success and failure
View the document4.3 Measuring quantity and quality
View the document4.4 What evaluation can do
View the document4.5 What evaluation can not and should not be used for

4.3 Measuring quantity and quality

Evaluation is concerned with measurements. Evaluators will almost certainly want to know details of costs, and the quantities of resources that the project uses. Many of the inputs which a project uses (salaries, materials, tools, petrol) are measurable. Evaluators will also want to assess the activities that have taken place, and the changes that have resulted from project efforts, and want to know how many people are involved, and the products or services which the project generates. These may sometimes be very obviously measurable in terms of numbers: acreage cultivated, vaccinations carried out, springs protected. Whatever can be expressed in terms of numbers, amounts, and quantities are termed the quantitative aspects of evaluation.

Of course, not all the inputs or changes are measurable in this way. How do you measure advice given, or level of selfconfidence achieved? Evaluators must be very careful that they do not just concentrate on what can be easily counted, but must be sure they take account of the uncountable factors too: such things as beliefs and attitudes, level of knowledge or skill, behaviour, and motivation. These qualitative factors may be extremely important in determining whether projects are successful or not.

It is often what people think about a programme which is the really significant factor in their level of involvement and commitment to it, and therefore whether it achieves its objectives or not. In order to find out why a programme has followed a certain course, it is vital to look at the programme as a whole. It is not enough to know that a programme has succeeded or failed: it is even more important to know why. That means taking account of all the unmeasurable factors as well as the things that can be counted.