|Community Nutrition Action for Child Survival (Peace Corps, 1989, 445 pages)|
|Part III - Project management systems|
|Unit 2: Evaluating progress|
SESSION 1: What do we need to know?
SESSION 2: Records and Reports
SESSION 3: Prototype Record Keeping System
SESSION 4: Evaluating Activities with the Community
The first step in evaluation is to have clearly stated Objectives and work plans for a project. When we plan community nutrition projects, we are careful to describe all of the activities we want to carry out, the time frame for those activities and the results we expect to achieve by the end of the project. We also identify indicators of project progress, or the concrete observable facts that will tell us whether or not a project is having the desired results.
Evaluation tells all of us - the planners, the beneficiaries and the donors - if we have done what we planned to do, and if what we did has had the results we expected.
For the project manager (agency and community), evaluation is an on-going activity throughout the life of a project. It is the management function that helps us understand what worked, what did not work and why. By regularly evaluating our efforts, we learn important lessons that help us revise our plan of action in order to achieve the best possible results with the resources we have available.
For the project donor, evaluation tells (1) if the implementing organization has carried out the activities it proposed to carry out; (2) if those activities have achieved the results predicted; and (3) if the funding and resources for the project were managed correctly. Donors also use project evaluation to decide whether or not a project or agency is worthy of continued funding, and in some cases, whether or not the project strategy deserves support in other places.
In this series of sessions, we will review the basic principles of project evaluation. Participants will first develop a set of evaluation questions that they hope to answer at different stages of a project. They will also review methods for collecting information about project activities and results, focusing on specific information that is important for the management of community nutrition activities. The second session of the series discusses the collection of information and has participants compare monthly record formats. Guiding principles for the development of community records are given, although it is strongly suggested that managers enlist the help of experts to develop records and reports that meet the needs of their agency, the community and donors. The final session provides participants with practice, using information from hypothetical or actual projects to answer evaluation questions, to pinpoint problems and to develop further questions and methods for collecting supplementary information.