Highlights from the Outcome Evaluation Pilot Project in Ghana and Malawi
In August 2012, The Hunger Project carried out an outcome evaluation pilot project, visiting more than 50 villages in Ghana and Malawi, conducting 1,000 household surveys, 50 in-depth interviews, and 20 focus group discussions.
The purpose: to test our data collection tools and methodologies so that we can create a framework to rigorously and systematically collect and compare data across districts and countries where The Hunger Project works. It will also be used to compare results at a global level over time and to empower epicenter committees to set priorities and track progress.
Doing such a study in The Hunger Project is more resource-intensive and time-consuming than most evaluations, which often monitor a single project or single sector evaluation. Because The Hunger Project believes firmly in an integrated approach to development, our tool needed to be multi-sectoral, looking holistically at all key program areas, such as community mobilization, women’s empowerment, health and nutrition, food security, basic sanitation, and so forth.
Because this study provides a snapshot of life in the villages where we work, it’s being used largely to refine our tools and methodologies, to better focus our programs, as well as to serve as a baseline for future studies so we can see changes over time. Yet, we were still able to collect valuable insights as to the impact of our work, particularly from the qualitative portion of the study. For instance, as a result of the study, we learned that:
- In both Ghana and Malawi, improvements were reported in gender equality and were noted as being greatly appreciated. It was previously unheard of for women to have any voice in decision making, and, now, people believe more women are fully engaged as equal leaders and decision makers. In Malawi, both women and men saw real advantages to having girls and boys share equally in chores.
- People in Ghana felt that improvements in maternal and child health were very significant due to high quality prenatal, delivery and post-natal care. Malaria and cholera are being reduced not only through treatment, but also through better access to bed nets and community clean-up campaigns.
- People are establishing diverse businesses and purchasing livestock with Hunger Project microfinance loans. These businesses are perceived as thriving, and people can now pay school fees and keep their children in secondary school. In Ghana, people remark on how where people have improved incomes, it has contributed to better nutrition, better education and better health.
- Overall, people feel real progress is being made. Other non-profit organizations have worked in these same areas, but people feel that The Hunger Project is unique in living up to its promises.
- In Malawi, it was noted that, with The Hunger Project, people have realized the importance of working together while previously it was difficult to organize people to work together. More people are dedicated to development activities, and both women and men are present in committees and at community meetings. This is attributed to The Hunger Project’s slogan of changing mindsets, which has transformed the mindsets of many rural women, girls and men. Community development assistants claimed that their job of mobilizing communities for development activities has been easier as communities have realized that they can do many things on their own.
Learning from the report included some of the following points:
- People in Malawi are very frustrated with the poor quality of the educational system. And though they greatly appreciated the introduction of nursery schools in Hunger Project epicenters and see the difference it is making in primary school, they would love to find a way to send more kids to secondary school, where school fees are required. A large challenge in both countries is a high dropout rate due to teenage pregnancy.
- Water-borne disease is a problem that people are grappling to solve in several of the epicenters.
- Health staff are frustrated when they don’t have electricity.
- People desired more training in agriculture and food preparation.
In a focus group discussion with women in Mpingo Epicenter, participants said that boys can now share the responsibility for household chores, which never used to be the case:
Nowadays people are more aware than in the past, for instance, when all your children are boys, what can you do, you still have to teach them how to cook, the same if you have girls only, and there is a need to cut a tree, you still have to teach them. This means that if you either have male or female children, you have to teach them all the household chores.
Focus Group Discussion in Champiti Epicenter:
The coming of THP has helped in that the nursery schools are helping our children to do well in their primary education because they have been taught the basics in nursery school. In addition, in the past the boys were the ones who were hard working in schools, but now there is competition between them and the girls in secondary school. This is because of the encouragement by THP. Illiteracy has also been reduced because of adult literacy classes.
Focus Group Discussion in Majete Epicenter:
I appreciate THP works. In the past we had no trust in any NGO which could fulfill its promise. That is why people initially doubted THP, but now people are now convinced because some of the issues are now visible and tangible. We can actually see our vision being fulfilled. This is also encouraging people to take an active role in THP projects like molding bricks.
Focus Group Discussion in Odumase-Wawase Epicenter:
THP program brought great unity and solidarity among the partner communities, resulting in shared responsibilities for development.
In a Focus Group Discussion in Nkawanda Epicenter, women noted they were given the opportunity to educate others and, therefore, found themselves in more leadership positions than previously:
Most women are now freely involved in the community decisions and activities because they had the inspiration and support from fellow women having that privilege.
Nsuta-Aweregya Epicenter Key Informant Interview:
THP brought a positive change in the level of collaboration between villages and village leaders at Nsuta-Aweregya, and now the relationship with their village heads has improved.