KNOWING THE IMPACT OF OUR WORK AND IMPROVING OUR INTERVENTIONS
With a view to improving accountability and learning, L'Initiative has progressively developed a unique monitoring, evaluation and learning system, which contributes to improving the quality of support provided to its partners.
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Following recommendations from an evaluation conducted by the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs in 2017, L'Initiative has strengthened its monitoring, evaluation and learning systems. The year 2019 marked a major turning point with the development of a new L'Initiative strategy and a consolidated monitoring, evaluation and learning system.
For almost 10 years, L'Initiative has generated a considerable amount of information and data, which now needs to be structured in order to produce and disseminate knowledge and stimulate critical questioning and debate. To make this ambition a reality, the new L'Initiative monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning strategy is centered about three objectives:
- Establish the procedures, tools and information necessary to manage the entire system linked to L'Initiative's 2020-2022 strategy and improve the quality of interventions;
- Be accountable to our supervisory and governance bodies, Parliament, beneficiaries and citizens;
- Contribute to producing and promoting knowledge capital to stimulate learning and promote internal and external knowledge sharing.
This strategy is consistent with Expertise France's monitoring and evaluation policy and ethics charter, as well as with commitments around aid effectiveness (Paris Declaration). It will therefore make it possible to monitor implementation, results and impact of our interventions, and to evaluate them and to draw lessons and good practices from them.
In 2018, L'Initiative tested a new management and monitoring tool: the Monitoring Tool focuses on monitoring the indicators identified in project logframes. This tool provides better visibility of project results via a regular flow of information around the achievement of activities and set objectives. It also focuses on the evolution of risks linked to the project and on the need to review objectives or make changes to them. A single reporting and monitoring platform will integrate these elements of the Monitoring Tool. This platform, to be used by all projects in the health department and integrate requirements from Expertise France's monitoring and evaluation policy, will improve management both at the project and L'Initiative strategic levels by ensuring key indicators set out in its strategy are monitored.
Since L'Initiative's inception, it has established a crucial system to evaluate projects, which has been expanded with in line with scale up. Over five years, L'Initiative has led more than 50 project evaluations, including eight which were carried out in 2019. National and international evaluators are contracted for these evaluations to ensure cross-referencing. Evaluations primarily focus on qualitative methods (interviews, focus groups, field observations) supplemented by quantitative methods to provide descriptive detail.
Since 2016, projects have also been subject to systematic mid-term evaluations for budgets costing €500,000 and lasting three years. Evaluations are coordinated by project leads with support from the L'Initiative team. They help to ensure optimal quality of projects underway.
In 2019, around ten mid-term evaluations were carried out.
In order to make the most of this comprehensive exercise, L'Initiative uses a cross-cutting evaluation system, grouping together projects working on the same theme.
Since 2015, seven cross-cutting evaluations have been carried out.
Investing in the quality and efficiency of technical assistance assignments is a key component of the L'Initiative strategy. For this purpose, L'Initiative has a systematic evaluation framework for technical assistance assignments. Questionnaires are completed by key stakeholders involved in assignments (assignment beneficiary, project manager coordinating the assignment, contracted expert and a regional adviser on global health and/or a diplomatic representative), which are later analyzed.
Assessing expert assignments through online questionnaires was strengthened by the introduction of free and open-source survey software (Kobo Toolbox), which was used to create and distribute questionnaires. This quantitative evaluation exercise aims to produce results and lessons in terms of the relevance and effectiveness of our assignments and ultimately to contribute to certifying experts.
In 2018, L'Initiative supported the NGO, Affirmative Action, to learn and share from its experience of advocating for the rights of vulnerable people. This technical support assignment enabled Affirmative Action to conduct a forward-looking reflection on its development and to strengthen its learning and knowledge sharing capacity. A combination of different materials (thematic information sheets, stickers and a film) provides a range promotion tools to reach institutional stakeholders. For L'Initiative, this exercise was an opportunity to try out a new type of technical assistance assignment and to bring together new areas of expertise and professions (journalists, videographers).
L'Initiative works closely with project leads, enabling it to carry out several cross-cutting learning exercises since 2018. These exercises relate to two themes, which were identified as being particularly important and that relate to key issues around strengthening health systems and combating pandemics: adolescents and young girls' access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH), and community observatories focusing on access to care.
COMMUNITY OBSERVATORIES FOCUSING ON ACCESS TO CARE
The collective learning exercise focused on observatories began in April 2018 at the AFRAVIH conference and there were many highlights of this process: in Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Madagascar, field assignments enabled project leads and their partners to familiarize themselves with learning and knowledge sharing processes.
In April 2019, a week-long workshop brought together organizations that manage the nine observatories supported by L'Initiative. The diverse nature of the observatories provided valuable learning as well as raising methodology challenges. Issues common to the various observatories were identified. There was a range of potential responses and strategies were documented for each of them, depending on their context. In December 2019, as part of the ICASA conference, the L'Initiative team presented to the round table on observatories and had a poster on this work “Community health observatories: knowledge from a collective learning exercise" Two outputs are available: The first is booklet that provides an overview of what observatories are, their role, the way they work, the challenges they face and the stakeholders that bring these observatories to life on a daily basis. The second is a collection of complementary practical information sheets that set out operational benchmarks for organizations wishing to develop or participate in observatories. These tools, that L'Initiative has presented to its partners and to the Global Fund, have enabled L'Initiative to share the importance it places on learning from its investments to ensure greater sustainability of projects wherever it is necessary. Within the framework of L'Initiative's cross-cutting evaluations, projects falling under the theme "access to care observatories" were all analyzed.
In recent years, L'Initiative has concentrated its efforts on disseminating and promoting lessons learned from evaluations and learning exercises related to interventions.
A digital library is gradually being put together on L'Initiative's website. The library, which is intended for partners to use, comprises reports from the various cross-cutting evaluations carried with funded projects, as well as the learning guides that have been produced.
In parallel, L'Initiative is sharing its evaluation approach with large audiences to share and discuss results, methods and approaches of our evaluation exercises. In October 2019, L'Initiative participated in the F3Enetwork's meetings. The round tables, workshops and conferences that L'Initiative's team participated in around the theme “Back to the future of evaluation”, enabled it to learn from the diverse range of issues and methodologies used by French NGOs and communities, as well being an opportunity to expand its network. In November 2019, L'Initiative participated in the International Francophone Evaluation Forum in Ouagadougou, during which the cross-cutting evaluation system for projects supported by L'Initiative and the lessons learned were presented.