If you have given time and effort to a project, you will want to
know if it has been successful. In judging success, it is not enough simply to
say 'we were very successful', or 'we had some success', or 'we failed'. If
possible, a specific measure of the amount of success is needed.
Checking on the progress made
Observation, interviews, and records will supply information for
evaluating a programme.
It is important to select the method
(or methods) most appropriate (or the group concerned. It is also important to
use a mixture of methods that will help people to understand better and to
To take an example: it has been planned that the funds for the
water supply project will be raised by the 12th week. If not enough money has
been collected by that time, then something is wrong. The planning group must
start to check and find the cause. Maybe the neighborhood leaders were not
adequately informed about how to organize fund-raising. Maybe it was a bad time
of year for people to donate money because the harvest was not yet in.
If the plans were to dig four wells within six months, but only
one is under way by the 17th or 18th week, then the group should immediately try
to find out why. Maybe more materials are needed than originally planned. Maybe
some of the labourers misunderstood their instructions.
Problems should be corrected as soon as they are seen.
By the end of the educational activities, you should be able to
measure their success by counting how many people are behaving according to the
original objectives: is this number more than before the programme started?
Use observation to check results. With community wells, for
instance: is there evidence that they are maintained hygienically? Are people
keeping them covered? Are they using clean buckets for gathering water? Are they
storing the water in clean, covered containers at home? Are people still going
to the stream to fetch water?
If people are using the wells hygienically and storing water
safely at home, the educational objectives of the programme have been achieved.
As for the health objectives, there should be a decrease in the
amount of waterborne disease. Depending on the type of disease, it may take
several months for this to show. If a reduction in illness does not occur, test
the well-water and look for other sources of contamination. If, in fact,
waterborne disease is decreasing, then the programme has been successful.
Learning from evaluation
At the end of the programme, a final meeting can be held to
discuss how far the programme has succeeded. Two main questions must be
1. Did the action go as well as planned?
- Did people participate?
- Were resources
available on time?
- Did people gain new skills and learn from the
2. Was the problem eliminated or reduced? Using the example of
- Do people now have access to safe water
- Are people disposing of faeces and urine in a safe manner?
Are fewer people suffering from the disease now than before the programme
Discussing such questions will help people evaluate and learn
from their programmes. We can obtain the answers to these questions in the way
in which we originally gathered information about the community when we started
planning through observation, interview, and records. Compare information
gathered before the programme started with information collected after it ended.
Even if the programme did not turn out as desired, a meeting
should still be held to find out why. A review of the timetable will help show
if every person carried out his or her duties.
Questions such as these might help:
Were there any unreported difficulties earlier in the programme?
Did other community events disturb or distract people from participating in the
action? Were there any disagreements among community members that stopped them
working together? Was the time set for the programme unrealistic? Were the
activities chosen inappropriate to the local culture?
Once sources of difficulty have been found, the group can decide
if it wants to try again. Learning can come from mistakes as well as from
successes. It is a hopeful sign if people can sit down maturely and work out the
cause of a problem. At such times, a health worker can provide much-needed
support and encouragement. With new knowledge about the problem, the group will
know how to plan a better programme in the