What is the value and impact of thousands of boreholes and pumps 10.000? And how can we measure the ‘unmeasurable’ such as quality of life and hope?
DACAAR – Danish Committee for Aid to Afghan Refugees is a pioneer in Water Hygiene and Sanitation in Afghanistan. And DACAAR is an expert in counting the number of boreholes bored, pumps installed, and cubic meters of healthy water delivered to poor and vulnerable households.
But what is the value of fresh water to a household? How and how much does water contribute to quality of life? And how does a sewing machine delivered by DACAAR contribute to change social norms in a community controlled by Taleban?
In 2019 StrategyHouse.dk worked with DACAAR staff to assess DACAAR’s ability to measure impact and value of its work, develop tools and approaches to measure qualitative changes and outcomes of water supply and other ‘quantifiable’ outputs and build the capacity of staff to carry on the measurements themselves.
Many organizations spend too much time collecting too much data, which is of little value to their M&E goals: tracing and assessing outcomes, changes and value of their work. Yet to measure change, staff must have a clear understanding of what change is, the changes they contribute to and what they can do to measure the qualitative changes – which is often at the core of their work.
To this end, StrategyHouse.dk worked with DACAAR to:
- Understand the qualitative changes it contributes to in people’s lives.
- Review DACAAR’s procedures and significantly reduce baseline data that DACAAR collects.
- Develop scales of measurements enabling DACAAR’s M&E team to assess incremental changes and qualitative results of its work
- Introduce procedures and approaches embracing unexpected, positive and negative changes that DACAAR may contribute to
- Reflect on findings and use them for reporting and internal learning.
Measuring and managing towards outcomes/changes takes that organizations adopt focus on change and outcomes rather than activities and outputs. Changing focus from activities to results is rarely done with a single training workshop only. As with any other learning process changing perspectives and approaches takes a bit of training and repetition.
Yet the combination of:
- Workshop training
- Co-creation of tools for data collection that makes sense to DACAARs staff
- Joint data collection in the field and practice with StrategyHouse’s team
Has led to a stronger capability in DACAAR to document and reflect on outcomes – and to use findings and lessons learnt for organizational learning and improvement.