Continual evaluation (after the project has finished) is a HUGE issue. It even came up during my thesis defence as a question, about why organizations never do follow-up because they have no incentive to from donors. I hope that in coming years, more organizations will come up with new techniques for making long-term sustainability a real priority.
Indiana Jones and the Missing Baseline
I’ve conducted several reviews of international development organisations, looking across their portfolio of programmes to assess and compare impact. Each review has run into a key problem – nobody could tell us about any finished programmes. We were given enthusiastic reports about current and upcoming projects, but all the completed ones had been forgotten. It makes me feel a bit like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, stuck in a permanent and repeating present.
This has really highlighted for me the problems of institutional memory in our sector. All too often, programmes are forgotten about straight after they’re finished. If there is an evaluation, it’s conducted, filed, and then lost. This has two obvious negative consequences. Firstly, we never really learn from the past, as ‘lessons learnt’ are swiftly forgotten. Secondly, there are few considerations of sustainability (or incentives to consider it.) Evaluations are almost all short-term, and nobody…
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