Program Theory and The Theory of Change

A Program theory is a well-documented problem in a society to be solved and has been articulated in the submitted proposal for funding. This articulation, form the basis of evaluation especially in projects without any baseline assessment or situational analysis. A theory of change is simply a diagrammatic representation of complex pathways that will lead to the expected change of the problem. These two concepts are used interchangeably by many which sometimes leave beginners with some degree of confusion. Another form of confusion come from outcomes and impacts which are also used interchangeably but differ in that the impact of a project is the sum of the outcomes of that project + findings from additional research directed toward the observed change minus the effort of other doing similar work with the aim of solving the same problem while outcome could be short term (change in learning), intermediate (change in action) and long term (change in problem). It is only by acknowledging the effort of others that you can measure the impact of your work by attributing some of the long-term outcomes to your activities.

Logic Framework and Theory of Change

The focus of many beginners in the M&E space is on a Logic framework especially when developing an M&E Plan for projects but it is worth noting that the starting point for a Logic model is to developing a Theory of change which gives a near true picture of what will happen when the project is implemented. Theory of change is a complex and messy logic model that takes into consideration all the possible pathways toward achieving your intended outcomes and it is easily summarised and presented in a logical framework to ease communication and understanding. A good Logic framework should match Theory of change to the mission of an organisation which then determine the available input directed toward the participants/audiences so as to carve out the activities to be carried in the project. This then form the basis of the project outcomes and subsequently an evaluation plan to determine if the proposed outcomes are achieved or not.

MONITORING AND EVALUATION 101: SMART OBJECTIVE

Effective monitoring and evaluation begins with the objectives of your project or program. Many organizations fail in their effort toward effective monitoring and evaluation because of lack of a SMART objective in their proposed project. There is a big different between a goal and objectives. While goals are more general and cannot be measure, Objectives are more specific and can be measured. A SMART Objective an objective that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. In the Non-for- profit sector, Objectives can be of four different classified as Behavioral, Performance, Process and Product For illustration, here is the goal of a project with a subsidiary objective:

MONITORING AND EVALUATION IS NOT MEASUREMENT AND EVALUATION!!

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Measurement is the most powerful concept in evaluation and data analysis that cannot be neglected for one to proceed with monitoring and evaluation successfully, it will be better to understand what measurement is all about. Measurement is the act of assigning numbers to and objects to represent a quantity or an attribute. There are different levels of measurement from which the manipulation of information to make sense occur which include: normal, ordinal, continuous, interval and ratio level of measurement. Normal level measurement is assigning numbers to an attribute like gender, for example Male=1 and female=2, Ordinal level of measurement is also linked with an attribute, but in an orderly manner an example for this are the level of education primary=1, secondary=2, high school=3, undergraduate=4. The figure in the normal level of measurement does not mean anything, but the ordinal level represents a hierarchy. Another level of measurement is the continuous level, which is differentiated from others with an absolute zero and example is weight. It is possible to have zero weight. The interval level on the other hand is differentiated by the lack of absolute Zero, for example time, and temperature. The zero point at this level doesn’t really mean the lack of time or temperature, but represents just a set standard. Last is the ratio level of measurement which represent measure that can be represented with a fraction for instance weight. It is easier to say 3.4kg but you cannot say 3.5 numbers of leaves. The idea of measurement is important because all the software and spreadsheet used for statistical analysis and evaluation operate using the concept of level of measurement. With the above concept, it’s very clear measurement and Evaluation goes with statistical analysis where you use a figure to prove a hypothesis while monitoring and Evaluation goes with the use of data to describe or demonstrate the level of success toward a particular objective in a project. In conclusion, Monitoring and evaluation is different from Measurement and Evaluation, although they have a lot in common.

Monitoring and Evaluation 101

Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) are two of the most critical elements in project management. A good proposal which is well written is not complete without a monitoring and evaluation Plan. Monitoring and Evaluation are then used together to manage projects, but they are two distinct components of the project though they intersect with each other. When you systematically track, project implement, success toward the project objectives and external factors affecting the project, which could be new opportunities or risk, you are monitoring the project. Evaluation on the other side occurs when you bring together data from monitoring and finding from other research to access the effectiveness or the likely effectiveness of the project toward an intended outcome. Monitoring is a procedure in project management that occur regularly depending on the need to guide the project toward its intended outcome while Evaluation occurs within a particular time-bound which could be Quarterly, Midterm or post project. Three elements that unite the two words are efficiency, effectiveness and impact. During project monitoring, sub-evaluation occurs, leading to what is known in M&E as formative evaluation because the intended aim of such evaluation is mainly to keep forming the project as it is being implemented to maintain or modify its original shape. The combination of all the sub-evaluation in the life of a project to assess the likely outcome or output of a project is what is known as summative evaluation. The monitoring and evaluation of a particular project should begin right from the very first day of the project implementation. An M&E plan is the diagrammatic representation of your project which defined your indicators necessary for the measurement of the project outcome. Indicators are basically quantitative or qualitative factors or variables which are simple and can reliably measure the outcome of your project. The following elements define and indicators namely: Validity, reliability, specificity sensitivity, and operationality.

Building a response to the crisis of cancer in Africa

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The growing incidence of breast cancer in Africa is a call for concern. Breast cancer in the 21st century is not as deadly as before, thanks to the increase rate of research and the effort of non-governmental organisation in creating awareness, education material and advocacy for increased funding toward breast cancer by most of the major world funding organisations in health research. Even though Africans women are less likely to develop breast cancer as compared to their white counterpart, they are more likely to die of breast cancer. The great question now is how prepared is Africa to deal with this challenge that is on the rise?. Education to create awareness, breast self-examination, screening (clinical breast examination) and diagnosis to capture the disease at its early stage of treatment is cost effective and increases the chances of survival. Screening for breast cancer requires special skills and equipment to perform a clinical breast examination, mammography, ultrasound, and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Because Africa is considered by many as a poor continent, state-of-art Screening methods, diagnosis and treatment available to people in the developed world are not promoted in Africa based on the idea of poverty raising some ethical questions. Is Africa truly poor and lack the capacity as many put it? As an African I will confidently say Africa is very rich and has great capacity and talent, especially in this internet age which has unity the globe with real-time information available online for everyone to access. Therefore this means that the way message of concerned are passed to Africa need to meet the standard and not taking advantage of the myth of poverty to discriminate on the basis of continent. We as health promoters most learn how to differentiate between man-made poverty, poor management and poverty itself. Lessons learned from HIV in Africa must also be integrated to all health related actives to solve disease increase in Africa.

How to Start an NGO part 1: History and Definitions of an NGO

Many of us are interested in creating an NGO in the future either as an individual or as a group. Before we started why an NGO and what is it all about?. NGOs are today recognized and supported as the third pillar of development because of its ability to connect with the less privilege. The term NGO came into existence in 1945 following a conference held by the United Nation. Although many organization were already involved in fighting against slavery, racism and women suffrage before then, the term was coined to distinguish NGO from inter-governmental and United Nation members’ organization.
The world bank defines NGO as an organization carrying out activities to relieve suffering, promote the interest of the poor, protect the environment, provide basic social needs or play an important role in community development. In the same light, the United Nation define an NGO as a voluntary citizens’ group organized at the local, national, and international level to address issues that support the welfare of the public.
Following the two definition of an NGO above, it can be said that an NGO is supposed to have the following characteristics:
 It should be Non- profit,
 It should be based on a social value
 It activities should be carried out voluntary
 It should be legally registered
 It should be independent of government or cooperation interference.
With the identified characteristics from the proposed definition by the World Bank and the United Nation, an NGO can be described as a legally constituted organization which is created voluntarily by either an individual or a group of people which function independently of government interference to improve the wellbeing of the public.
NGO can be classified into two based on its activities that is: Operational and advocacy NGO. Operational NGO is sub classified into community NGO, National NGO and International NGO. NGO could also be classified based on the services it provides as follows: Charitable NGO, Services NGO, Participatory NGO and Empowerment NGO. The last classification of NGO is based on the type of work it is doing often classified as: Health NGO, Environmental NGO and Educational NGO.

Who is a Leader?

It is true that the word leadership conjures in mind someone seating at the top of an institution. This myth about leadership is  misleading. A  leader is someone who brings creative solutions to problems in communities and by so doing drive a positive change in an attempt to make the word a better place. Leaders often find themselves in the heart of change and this change can be in business, politics, health and societies. The major role of a leader is to help communities, societies and organizations to navigate change by helping people find better  ways of doing things. Addition to helping people navigate challenges,a leader also need to build the capacity to influence others in other to reach a common goal, complete a mission and create new ideas while taking into consideration the interest of all. We as non-profit leaders often find ourselves in complex and dynamic situations and we must consider multiple factors in solving those situations we come across. Leaders work with different groups of individuals with competing interest and our actions as leaders where ever we find ourselves must be in line to minimize conflict. A good leader is known by his ways of understanding that Today’s solution is Tomorrow’s problem. This brings us to the idea that solutions to problems are short-lived and we as leaders must always be ready to adapt as situation changes