Thank you all for very interesting contributions and insights. We seem to agree that reporting is the first step to communication about results. Most of the time, reporting is technical with data and results on project outcomes, with recommendations and lessons learnt. Then the commissioner validates, communicates the results to all stakeholders and develops a communication plan with a larger audience.
Here some highlights from participants:
Esosa Tiven Orhue suggests creating harmony between the two elements for programme/project implementation by all stakeholders. This is possible if communication about results is included at the design stage of the intervention.
For John, there is “plenty of reporting, but little communicating”. In addition, John suggests that “no one was to have a hand in project preparation and design until they have done at least five years of M&E.” UNEP document shared by John has two lessons learnt related to our discussion. 1) Lack of ownership and shared vision due to insufficient stakeholder consultation processes during the design leads to poor project design and, 2) inefficient project management includes” Inadequate dissemination and outreach due to poor use of available dissemination methods”.
Most times, communication about the project results and evaluation targets the stakeholders consulted at the design and implementation phases. These are usually the immediate implementing partners (sphere of influence). Thus, the sphere of interest is usually excluded leading to no change or if change occurs, it is not documented. This results (as John said) in losses of past experiences and the risk of repeating the same mistakes.
Lal agrees with John while Silva adds that “if we stick to conventional evaluation formats, we might make minor improvements but always miss out on the potential of evaluations, in the broader sense.” I can’t agree more with Silva since I see evaluators as change makers.
Finally Gordon suggests that the communication about evaluation and evaluation results should be budgeted as part of the overall project and should be implemented by the commissioners and project managers.
If we agree that stakeholders include direct project/programmes implementing partners (sphere of influence) as well as impacted population (intended and not intended beneficiaries) then Esosa, John and Silva's suggestions should be considered for successful implementation.
As summary, the debate about whether ‘development aid works’ has been going on for at least a decade now. When mapping outcomes we need to think of the change we want and therefore communicate with the population at the design, implementation, closing and give them insights about evaluation results. This will empower them and give them the tool to implement the programme/project. Consequently, at the next programme design, they will bring their perspective in lessons learnt from previous programmes, thus, avoiding repeating mistakes. This should lead to avoid unnecessary activities and foster programme implementation.
I wish you all good end of the week
1. Lessons Learned from Evaluation:
2. A Comparative Study of Evaluation Policies and Practices in Development Agencies