Evaluation 2017: From Learning to Action

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All About Action: Evaluation Methods in the International Development Context at the Peace Corps

Session Number: 2797
Track: Government Evaluation
Session Type: Panel
Tags: International and Cross Cultural Evaluat
Session Chair: Kate Goddard Rohrbaugh [Program Analyst (Evaluation) - Peace Corps, OSIRP]
Discussant: Joanie Cohen-Mitchell [Chief of Programming and Evaluation - Peace Corps]
Presenter 1: Danielle Stoermer Niedermaier [Feed the Future Evaluation Specialist - Peace Corps]
Presenter 2: Danielle Stoermer Niedermaier [Feed the Future Evaluation Specialist - Peace Corps]
Presenter 3: Deborah K Levy [Peace Corps]
Presenter 4: Christopher Lee Praley [Senior Data Analyst - The Peace Corps]
First Author or Discussion Group Leader: Christopher Lee Praley [Senior Data Analyst - The Peace Corps]
Second Author or Discussion Group Leader: Danielle Stoermer Niedermaier [Feed the Future Evaluation Specialist - Peace Corps]
Third Author or Discussion Group Leader: Deborah K Levy [Peace Corps]
Time: Nov 09, 2017 (08:00 AM - 09:00 AM)
Room: Roosevelt 4

Abstract 1 Title: How to Extrapolate Lessons Learned Using a Case Study Approach
Presentation Abstract 1:

Peace Corps Volunteers have been working to improve the agricultural practices of smallholder farmers around the world for over 50 years. With funding from USAID through the Feed the Future initiative, Peace Corps has been promoting a type of bio-intensive home gardening system for several years in 17 countries globally. A process evaluation, with aspects of performance measurement, was conducted in 2016 in three case study countries with varying sociocultural, economic and agroecological contexts: Ethiopia, Nepal and Uganda. This evaluation shows how evaluators can help transfer lessons learned in one context to another and what social mechanisms affect an intervention’s success. For example, the evaluation reveals the importance of conducting interactive, hands-on trainings that allow farmers to adapt what they’re learning based on their specific circumstances. In addition, the sociocultural contexts, environment and existing gardening practices affect the extent to which permagardening is implemented by farmers.

Presentation 1 Other Authors: Ann-Marie Yongho, Raju Kandel, Henry Nsubuga, Abraham Genet
Abstract 2 Title: Examining the Social Mechanisms and Contexts that Facilitate Successful Implementation of a Nutrition Program in Guatemala
Presentation Abstract 2:

In Guatemala, nearly 50% of children under the age of five are stunted. To help address this significant issue, Peace Corps Guatemala, working in concert with USAID efforts, has been implementing an Essential Nutrition Actions and Designing for Behavior Change program focused on training of trainers, namely Health Center Staff, and supporting them to conduct support group meetings for mothers with young children. Peace Corps/Washington conducted a process evaluation in 2016 to examine the sociocultural and political contexts of the program as well as the mechanisms that affect the program’s success, in order to share this learning with other Peace Corps programs conducting similar work. Results reveal the importance of involving all levels of hierarchy in the Health Center so there is awareness and support from leaders and peers. Similarly, support from family and neighbors is critical for mothers to attend support group meetings and implement improved nutrition practices.

Presentation 2 Other Authors: Joanie Cohen-Mitchell, Daniel Murphy
Abstract 3 Title: Evaluating a Peace Corps Global Rollout Field Test that Attempts to Streamline How Posts Conduct Their Projects
Presentation Abstract 3:

To meet the need for standard sector projects that also allow for flexibility, Peace Corps recently developed sector resource packages to support country offices across the world in the development of the Logical Project Framework (LPF) for the sectors in which they are working. To test the Sector Resource Packages, Peace Corps is rolling out a field test. The purpose is to support selected countries in using this package of resource materials to design a project, implementation plan, and P&T Bridge in the relevant sector. This field test will seek comprehensive feedback to strengthen the materials. Feedback will be obtained on the process and process-supporting materials and the sector content in the LPFs and sector strategies. Information from this field test will be used to modify and strengthen the suite of materials before they are rolled out globally. This presentation will describe the evaluation methods used for the Field Test.

Abstract 4 Title: Addressing the Complexities of Evaluation in Developing Nations at the Peace Corps
Presentation Abstract 4:

The Peace Corps has sent over 225 thousand volunteers to 141 countries to provide technical assistance and foster intercultural understanding. With a limited number of resources, the agency is confronted with a critical question: “Why does the agency operate in the countries it is in at the levels it is at?” To answer this, the Peace Corps annually conducts the Country Portfolio Review, a systematic evaluation that reviews all overseas Peace Corps programs in one setting. The Country Portfolio Review is challenged by the inherent difficulty of evaluating complex programs in the context of developing nations. These complexities are addressed by methods outlined in this paper, including: expanding the evaluation’s transparency, using senior leadership buy-in, and “unpacking” key aspects of program operations. In particular, this paper explores how unpacking informs how to identify key evaluation metrics and how unpacking can be leveraged to make an evaluation more legitimate to stakeholders.

Theme: Learning What Works and Why
Audience Level: Beginner, All Audiences

Session Abstract (150 words): 

Since 1961, the Peace Corps has sent over 225,000 Volunteers to serve in 141 countries to advance local development outcomes and build cross-cultural understanding. The agency exclusively works in developing countries with a low budget and limited resources. While spanning the diversity of the world, the countries are similar by bringing unique complexities and cultural context to the Peace Corps’ work. The evaluations presented in this session draw on the creativity of Peace Corps staff that are charged with identifying sound methodologies that can be carried out with limited resources in the developing world. In particular, this session includes examples of methods like: using case studies, participatory evaluation design, advancing streamlined project development, and unpacking complexity in the international development context. The work of the Peace Corps’ evaluation teams reflects how creative thinking truly leads to more effective evaluation learning and action.

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