what we do: learning and evaluation

Over the years we have designed and implemented many evaluations with the combined purpose of accounting for performance and learning about how well things are working. Our evaluations aim to strengthen programming and organizational capacities based on what our clients want to know.

We have assessed international development projects and programs, reviewed institutional arrangements, designed and carried out needs assessments, evaluated policy initiatives, and monitored programming over several years. We have worked with our clients to develop meaningful learning and evaluation frameworks—to set out the questions, means and indicators for gathering information. We have led teams of external evaluators, and been the outside members of organizational review teams.

We work at every scale from small community organizations to federations, government departments and multi-organizational programs, in Canada and in many other countries. We have guided community and international projects and programs, policy processes, training and education programs, inter-organizational collaboration, program impacts, and organizational processes.

We draw on the traditions of qualitative research and participatory action research to design the most appropriate mix of approaches and tools including: surveys ** interviewing ** focus groups ** questionnaires ** diagnostic workshops ** detailed case studies ** role play ** storytelling ** participatory action research including the techniques of Social Analysis Systems (see below).

assessing cwy program impact with thai partners

Some examples...

** For the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), a program evaluation of the Volunteer Cooperation Program which involves ten Canadian NGOs with their overseas partners. The evaluation included a detailed case study of programming in West Africa, and the Canadian public engagement programs. African partners participated in a series of workshops using Social Analysis Systems techniques.

** Canada World Youth commissioned an innovative impact evaluation of its youth exchange program to learn more about the long-term impact of the international exchange on young Canadians and on host communities in Canada, Benin, Cuba, Thailand and Ukraine. The outside /inside evaluation team designed the process, trained partner and Canadian staff to deliver participatory workshops in the five countries, and prepared detailed reports. This powerful learning experience affected long-term planning and management approaches at CWY. “It was a very ambitious project. There was a very strong sense of working together. This collaboration with the outside evaluation team was an important ingredient for success. Without this, I don’t think we would have had such a thorough and rigorous analysis.” CWY staff person.

** Two of the South House Exchange partners worked with the Women’s Health Bureau at Health Canada on an institutional assessment of the Centres of Excellence for Women’s Health program, including cross-Centre collaboration. We worked with the Bureau over a couple of years to strengthen planning and collaborative activities.

** At the Department of Justice Canada, three partners worked with an internal gender equality advisory committee, to conduct a Department-wide institutional assessment of the Gender Equality Initiative which aimed to strengthen the gender component of departmental policy and programs. The assessment led to the creation of a Senior Advisor on Gender Equality. South House consultants continued to work on different aspects of this Initiative for several years, including evaluation protocols, staff workshops to design gender analysis tools, and planning activities.

** For the City of Ottawa (Housing Branch) Community Capacity Building Team, a partner and two associates carried out a study to describe the situation of newcomers to Canada who are at risk of homelessness in Ottawa. We used a “theory-driven” evaluation approach to examine Ottawa’s experience against the “best practice” theory and lived experience in other countries. The brief was part of the city’s 2005 sector plan of action.

** A program evaluation for Oxfam Great Britain in Cambodia, used participatory action research to assess the progress of an innovative collaboration for their Disaster Management (DM) Program in Cambodia. The evaluation drew out learning and appropriate methodologies for a future plan and pointed to the potential for building links with other local and national actors.

** For the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IIDEA), one of our partners led a program and institutional evaluation of this international, intergovernmental institute to promote and advance sustainable democracy. The evaluation was a response to the organizational challenges brought on by the collapse of the former Soviet Union and the resulting new democracies in Eastern Europe and the growing number of transitional democracies emerging in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. The evaluation process involved meetings, workshops and interviews with more than 200 stakeholders.