Rapid evaluation to measure the impact of the COVID pandemic in mountainous areas

Morocco
©FAO

Rapid evaluation to measure the impact of the COVID pandemic in mountainous areas

Hello community,

I work with NGOs in the mountainous areas near Marrakech and I am a member of one of them. We see the impact of the COVID pandemic on livelihoods in the mountain communities we work with. In fact, during the lockdown, among rural communities, mountain communities have suffered the most from the economic impact of the pandemic. Currently, life is gradually returning to the "new normal" but experts even at the international level are talking about the year 2022 as the date when life could go back to normal.

We have tried to develop assessment tools and have conducted a first trial for our community. But we realised that it takes time and resources to understand the situation in order to be able to respond effectively.

How can we make rapid evaluations of the impact of COVID on communities in order to be able to be proactive and/or react in a timely manner?

I would like to have suggestions and your experience in this regard.

Yours sincerely

Malika Bounfour, PhD

Ingénieur Agronome-Consultante 

Présidente de l'Association Ayur

Dear Malika and community,

Thank you for sharing your challenges in carrying out rapid evaluations. 

I am currently involved in a Real Time Evaluation (RTE) conducted by the FAO Office of Evaluation. Despite the fact that the methodology of this RTE has been designed to provide real-time feedback to FAO teams and partner organisations, it is in fact taking longer than initially anticipated. The reasons were more or less similar to those mentioned by Jennifer, namely bureaucracy processes being slow, recruitment of national staff, travel restrictions, among others. 

Nevertheless, I believe that some adjustments could be made to the ‘regular’ way of conducting evaluations, to make the process more agile. This may eventually contribute towards providing feedback and recommendations more ‘real time’. Some ideas could be to (either/or): 

  • Increase the communication flow with the relevant stakeholders /communities involved to provide regular updates on the evaluation process. Each update should also include a short overview of preliminary findings that emerged in that particular stage of the evaluation. 
  • Organize periodical workshops to allow discussions on preliminary findings and conclusions with a wider audience and in a participatory manner, and use this opportunity to draw ideas for recommendations together with the audience.
  • Create brief communication products to disseminate preliminary findings and recommendations throughout the evaluation process and not just at the end of it. 

Although I am fully aware that some of the challenges related to time and resources involved in evaluation processes are simply difficult to overcome; creating a space for continuous feedback throughout the evaluation process, using different forms as highlighted above, may be one way to allow communities/stakeholders to react in a more timely manner.

I hope this contributes to the discussion.

Kind regards, 

Carolina 

 

Dear Malika,

Thanks for sharing your experience. Our initiative as shared on this platform [www.evalforward.org/comment/reply/node/118/field_comments_ref/19], involves a joint partnership of the Evaluation Society of Kenya (ESK) and Monitoring & Evaluation Department (MED), funded by the World Bank. So our context is different from yours, as it involves coordination between national and county governments (making things more complex). Nonetheless, like you, our experiences were that indeed the rapid evaluations were not as quick as initially planned (and as the term seems to imply). Much more resources than initially planned were also expended. Some contributing factors to these were:

  • Slow start owing to the protocols/bureaucracies in communications between the national and county governments
  • Sometimes delayed responses at the technical level (especially where staff are thin on the ground)
  • Limited documentation including well analyzed and archived monitoring data
  • Generally, M&E Systems are weak. This limits the ability to make quick studies.  Alternative means involving wider scope and additional monies had to be employed, towards redressing data gaps

In view of all these and subject to context, I think, it’s important to take into account these limitations, including potential budget over-runs at the evaluation planning stages.

 

Kind Regards,

 

Jennifer