How useful are theories of change in development programmes and projects?
In the past few years we have witnessed an increased application of theories of change (ToC) in the design and evaluation of development projects. Nowadays many donors, government agencies and NGOs promote their use as a way to ensure that their day-to-day activities are aligned with their ultimate aims.
In FAO, we have also seen an increase in their application at programme and project levels. ToCs are routinely used to illustrate the impact pathways of strategic programmes (e.g. http://www.fao.org/3/a-mr830e.pdf on page 41) and/or to comprehensively explain the logic of project-funded interventions (e.g. MAFAP http://www.fao.org/3/a-at151e.pdf). The Office of Evaluation has also started to use ToCs in their assessments (e.g. Evaluation of FAO’s work on gender: http://www.fao.org/3/ca3756en/ca3756en.pdf on page 9).
What is your experience with their use? What are the main added value of these theories, from your own perspective? Have theories-of-change in your view made a difference in the programmes and projects that you have evaluated, especially when compared to other planning tools like log-frames and result chains?
Looking forward to hearing from you!