March 18, 2018

An evaluation puzzle: “Freak weather”

Two NGOs prepare ships to help people stranded after a tsunami on a remote island.

NGO A is well-prepared and sets sail in time.

NGO B has barely enough equipment and leaves too late to do any good.

A freak hurricane sends ship A back to base but slings ship B miles ahead.

Ship B reaches the island and just manages to save many lives.

Ship A still manages to arrive on time but its help is no longer needed.

Which NGO was most effective? Which had the most impact? Which should be praised the most? Did NGO A fail?

March 18, 2018

An evaluation puzzle: “Talent show”

An NGO offers a play activity for Roma children, with the modest aim of Providing safe and supportive spaces”.

Most of the children don’t like the activity and nearly all stay away.

But one of the children is introduced to the clarinet through the activity.

The child goes on to win a national talent show and a record contract.

The child’s fame does a lot for the community — children are more self-confident, the municipal authority is more responsive, neighbouring communities are more friendly …

The NGO argues that the project’s effectiveness and impact were huge. But others say that these successes were essentially accidental.

You are asked to comment.

March 18, 2018

An evaluation puzzle: “Mobile first”

Oxfam fixes the mobile network in the whole country, and Save the Children fixes the school.

The school couldn’t have been fixed without the mobile network.

No other agency had the ability to fix the mobile network.

In their report (using a universal standardised reporting format) Oxfam record this as one school fixed”, arguing if our organisation hadn’t stepped in, the school wouldn’t have been built (counterfactual) but we did step in, and it was. Ergo, our organisation caused the fixing of the school. (And dozens of other schools, and everything else which could only be done because we fixed the network).

You are asked to comment.


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