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Contribution to Change: An approach to evaluating the role of intervention in disaster recovery

by Roger Few, Daniel McAvoy, Marcela Tarazona and Vivien Margaret Walden Practical Action Publishing
Pub Date:
Pbk 120 pages
AU$36.99 NZ$37.38
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As the number of people affected by disasters has risen, so have the expectations placed on humanitarian agencies by donors, the public and the affected populations themselves. Agencies must now provide evidence of impact of their interventions. But applying conventional evaluation methods can pose problems. How can we assess the difference that intervention makes? Is it ethical to consign some disaster-affected communities to control groups? How feasible is it to collect baseline data among people who have just been traumatized? This guide provides a reliable and practical method for identifying the contribution an agency makes to changes to people's lives in the recovery period following disasters. It outlines 11 steps that take evaluators through designing quantitative and qualitative methods through to collecting field data and developing a narrative of evidence and change. The Contribution to Change tool encourages recognition of the efforts of the community itself, as well as the impact of other actors such as government or community-based groups. Contribution to Change should be read by humanitarian managers and field staff, as well as by researchers into humanitarian relief and international development.

Prelims (Contents Notes on the contributors Foreword Acknowledgements)
Part One
The approach
Emphasis on evaluating 'contribution'
Other defining elements of the methodology
Planning and management
Part Two
Data collection tools and methods
Overall design
Step 1: Preliminary investigation
Step 2: Quantitative methods design: household and community surveys
Step 3: Qualitative methods design: semi-structured interviews and group work
Step 4: Preparing to work with communities
Step 5: Sampling
Step 6: Field data collection
Part Three
Step 7: Preliminary analysis of quantitative data
Step 8: Preliminary analysis of qualitative data
Step 9: Developing a narrative of evidence and change
Step 10: Conclusions: Contribution to Change
Step 11: Finalization and use of the report
Back Matter (Glossary References and further resources Annexes)

‘Evaluation practitioners will find this book to be an extremely valuable resource. The book is easy to use and sets out a clear step-by-step approach for assessing multiple agency interventions at the community level.’
Scott Green, Chief of Evaluation, Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

‘The expectations for humanitarian and development workers are increasingly more professionalized. Many participate in evaluations without extensive training or academic background. This clear, concise book adds a useful, practical method to our arsenal of evaluation tools and includes step-by-step information that will be very accessible to field staff.’
Anne Castleton, PhD., Director of Disaster Risk Reduction, Strategic Response and Global Emergencies, Mercy Corps

‘The humanitarian sector has grappled for some time to develop a sound methodology for assessing the impact of interventions where no counterfactual can be identified and no baseline following a disaster exists. Contribution to Change provides a clear step-by-step guide and robust methodology for assessing an agency’s interventions by disaster-affected people themselves. This book will be a valuable addition to any evaluator’s library.’
Annie Devonport, Head of Programmes and Accountability, Disasters Emergency Committee

‘I am happy to see another ECB publication providing straightforward guidelines for complex situations, with a plain English, common-sense approach to assessing contributions to disaster recovery. Too often the complexity of the context is only matched by the complexity and length of the guidance, and the tendency is to promote imported best practice rather than a locally appropriate “best fit”. In this case the authors have avoided those traps.’
Chris Roche, author of Impact Assessment in Development Organisations, Associate Professor and Chair in International Development, La Trobe University, Australia

‘The clarity offered in Contribution to Change will mean that the methodology can actually be applied and owned by time-short field practitioners.‘
Moira Reddick, Coordinator, Nepal Risk Reduction Consortium

‘This very clear and concise book, written by authors with decades of experience among them, equips practitioners with the tools needed to improve the quality of evaluation in post-disaster response – a critical area that the humanitarian community has been weak in for too long.’
David Sanderson, Visiting Professor of Urban Planning and Design, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University
Roger Few is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of East Anglia.

Daniel McAvoy is a Lecturer at the University of East Anglia.

Marcela Tarazona is a Senior Consultant at Oxford Policy Management.

Vivien Margaret Walden is the Humanitarian Monitoring and Evaluation and Learning Adviser with Oxfam GB.