Evaluation 2016: Evaluation + Design

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Valuing what Matters: Utilizing the Social Return on Investment (SROI) Methodology in International Development Programs

Session Number: 1116
Track: International and Cross Cultural Evaluation
Session Type: Panel
Tags: "hard to reach" populations, Africa, capacity building, International and Cross Cultural Evaluat, International Health Evaluation
Session Chair: Lauren Serpe [Sr. Results and Measurement Advisor - Pact]
Discussant: Nanette Barkey, Ph.D. MSPH [Director of Results and Measurement - Pact]
Presenter 1: Jade Lamb [Technical Specialist - Social Impact]
Presenter 2: Jamal Muktar [MERL Officer - Pact]
Presenter 3: Robinson Chikowero [Senior M&E Program Officer - Pact]
Presenter 4: Inna Shvab, Pact [Results and Measurement Advisor - USAID project RESPOND]
Session Facilitator: Lauren Serpe [Sr. Results and Measurement Advisor - Pact]
Time: Oct 29, 2016 (08:00 AM - 09:30 AM)
Room: International South 2

Abstract 1 Title: The Social Return on Investment of a Livelihoods Program in Myanmar
Presentation Abstract 1:

Pact Myanmar conducted a Social Return on Investment (SROI) study from 2015-2016 on the livelihoods portion of a large community development project. Initial findings show that beneficiaries highly value the improved self-confidence and social unity that resulted from project activities. Pact Myanmar was initially interested in the SROI approach to illustrate value for money, but it provided other valuable findings. The results yielded sharp insights into the complex environment in which the project is operating, uncovered unexpected outcomes, made it possible to attribute a specific portion of outcomes to project activities, and the opportunity to engage deeply with beneficiaries about their own articulation of outcomes and validation of findings. This presentation on the case study of Pact Myanmar discusses the strengths and weaknesses of using an SROI approach in development programming, lessons learned from implementing SROI, how results were used and reported, and the influence of the SROI findings on programming.


Abstract 2 Title: Evaluation of Trauma Healing Sessions in Elwak, Somalia Communities in Conflict Using the Social Return on Investment (SROI) Methodology
Presentation Abstract 2:

Pact applied the SROI methodology to evaluate its trauma healing peacebuilding approaches used in Somalia. SROI was chosen because it is often difficult to systematically measure the effects of trauma healing work. SROI does not measure against the expected outcomes designed by the project, but uses in-depth discussions with beneficiaries to capture the actual outcomes they experienced and assigning relative monetary values to these. The first round of data collection documented outcomes experienced by different stakeholder groups and the second round gathered the relative value of those outcomes. The beneficiaries of trauma healing sessions identified positive, material outcomes that led to reduction of post-traumatic symptoms. Initial findings show there is a high social return on investment for resources spent on trauma healing sessions, highlighting the substantial effects trauma healing sessions can have in communities in conflict.


Abstract 3 Title: The Social Return on Investment (SROI) of Civil Society Strengthening in Zimbabwe
Presentation Abstract 3:

In 2015 Pact Zimbabwe employed the SROI methodology to evaluate the impact of a civil society strengthening project. Three of 21 partners were sampled for outcome valuation at end line. The main stakeholders consulted were partner organizations, their community representatives and the community members they serve. The study revealed that all partners experienced positive returns on the investments Pact made through capacity development assistance: for every $1 invested in partners, a nearly $3 social return on investment was experienced (1:2.7). The greatest value was created in the sphere of influence of people directly served by Pact’s local partners. The partners who experienced the greatest change in organizational development also created the greatest value for their stakeholders, thus validating the positive effect of Pact’s capacity development approach for sustainable and cascading outcomes.


Abstract 4 Title: The Social Return on Investment (SROI) of a Behavioral Intervention for People who Inject Drugs (PWID) in Ukraine
Presentation Abstract 4:

Pact Ukraine conducted an SROI study to evaluate a behavioral intervention for PWID. The “Seven Steps” model targets PWID to promote adherence to medical services and prevent HIV and other infections through safe behavior and regular testing. The SROI approach was originally chosen to measure cost effectiveness of the intervention, but also uncovered unexpected outcomes and negative as well as positive changes. It revealed that secondary stakeholders also benefited from the intervention: those close to PWID (their partners and children), social workers, local authorities and government. Key findings were that PWID had a lower risk of developing sexually transmitted infections and HIV due to safer sexual and/or drug injecting behavior, and asked for increased medical services which caused a burden for medical facilities. PWID unexpectedly chose to stop injecting which resulted in increased addiction to alcohol and a greater demand for drug replacement treatment.


Audience Level: Beginner

Session Abstract: 

Social Return on Investment (SROI) is a methodology used to understand and assess the value of the social, economic and environmental outcomes created by an activity or an organization. SROI is centered on beneficiary engagement where project stakeholders identify outcomes and the relative values of those outcomes. International development programs often struggle to understand the value of their work to those the serve and donors are increasingly asking for evidence of this value through various cost-effectiveness measures. In 2015, Pact began piloting SROI across four projects in different international development impact areas: health, peacebuilding, livelihoods, and civil society strengthening. Varying in scope and scale, each panelist will present their experience utilizing the SROI methodology in an international development context, including why they chose SROI as the evaluation methodology, how they implemented the study, successes experienced, challenges encountered, lessons learned, and the key findings.



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