RE: Can we use an evidence-based, evolving Theory of Change to achieve "local learning” during project design? | Eval Forward

Dear John,

Thank you for this broad and rich theme.

A project can be defined as an action or compound actions to bring about change or change on a topic or topics in a defined locality. The ToC theorizes the expected change, as does the results framework, which groups together expected results on the basis of planned and budgeted activities throughout the execution of the project. However, it is important to note that the ToC must be more objective than a vision in its definition, it must be based on the results of a diagnosis of the intervention area in a contextual (social, economic, environmental, life style, etc.) and situational way in relation to the project. The definition of a problem tree is very important for objectively parameterising the ToC. Now, it is a theorising of the expected change in the project defined on the basis of contextual and situational evidence at the start of the project, so its revision is not essential if the project framework remains intact. However, if, for example, the project's intervention framework is revised at the end of a mid-term review, as well as the results framework, it becomes imperative to revise the ToC in order to be consistent with the evolution of the intervention. This task is the responsibility of the project team and stakeholders who have a clear picture of the intervention and who can also decide in a participatory manner on these different changes. 

Following the example of the Global Agriculture & Food Security Program Missing Middle Initiative (GAFS MMI) Senegal project, after the definition of the annual programs of work and budgets and partnerships, the project team, with the support of the stakeholders, began a revision of the project results framework followed by a slight re-parameterisation of the ToC because the changes did not require a global revision, which may be the case in other projects or programmes depending on the re-planning and revision. 

[contribution posted originally in French]