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Monitoring and Evaluation training in Cape Town

We always love facilitating our trainings in Cape Town (not just because of the boat trip and delicious food!) it’s a great location and always an excellent group of participants, this time from Finland to, Zambia, Vietnam to Sweden, and many countries in between, from forestry to health, from the UN to governments. It is this mix of people that we value on our trainings.

During our first week we covered the basics of M&E for Results from understanding the Results Chain, Input to Impact, M&E Plans and Systems and many more topics (see the factsheet), we studied some participatory data gathering techniques which were put into practice in a real-life context in week 2.

This real-life context was working with MyDunoon, a Non-Profit organisation that is focused on creating and supporting positive change in the Dunoon Township. MyDunoon believe that for change to last it needs to be embraced by the community and for this to happen the community needs to unite and believe that change is possible, an ethos that we at IMA International agree is a crucial dimension to the sustainability of change.

The qualitative methodologies we chose to practice were Pairwise Ranking, and Cognitive Mapping. Pairwise ranking is a method to rank and prioritise challenges facing a community, which starts by free expression and listing of challenges, which are all compared against each other. The results are counted at the end, ranking them in the order the group feels are most important.  For MyDunoon, we explored challenges in a recent project that took place, ‘who is my neighbour’ where youth from the township took part in a film-making challenge where young people of MyDunoon explored youth attitudes towards people of a different culture.

The second technique, cognitive mapping, has origins in Soft Systems Methodology which recognises that the real reasons why things often happen are due to the perceptions, beliefs, emotions and agendas of the individuals involved; yet the method retains the rigorous logic of systems mapping. It is used in a one-to-one interview and the interviewer only poses one rather open and general question. They then map the ‘cause-effect’ logic of what is said. The map is drawn during the interview and shared with the interviewee, checking that their thinking is being accurately represented. No further specific questions are asked. When the method uses the same starting question for a number of interviewees from the same area or with common experience there will be similarities and differences in what they say. This enables the individual cognitive maps to be combined where similar points or links are raised and the combined maps considered as an exploration of a situation from the viewpoint of the joint interviewees. The structure of the map can be further analysed to bring out some significant points.

Using this information gathered in the field the IMA team went back to the classroom to develop a Theory of Change for My Dunoon. The basic models considered the desired change the team identified, together with the necessary conditions for that change to occur and the contributors to change, along with the assumptions they hold.  We would like to thank the My Dunoon team for an invaluable day out!

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