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23 Aug 2022

Using the MSC approach for project evaluation

In May this year, Fair and Sustainable (F&S) conducted a mid-term evaluation (MTE) focused on the achievements of the Building Bridges for Women Economic Empowerment (BBWEE) programme. F&S focused on the use of the Most Significant Change (MSC) approach and used the evaluation criteria: relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, sustainability, and impact. BBWEE works with Women’s Right Organizations to achieve objectives including supporting companies with knowledge and tools so that the private sector advances Women’s Economic Empowerment across their value chain. We interviewed women in flower farms and the tea sector.

In the MTE, the MSC stories were collected and analysed by the F&S evaluators, since the project has not been using the MSC approach in its monitoring. The MSC approach is a systematic and participatory monitoring and evaluation approach for the effectiveness of development programs. F&S recommends the use of this method, as it would enrich future monitoring by the programme.

F&S first captured the MSC stories, and then invited stakeholders to read the stories and have in-depth discussions about the value of these reported changes (how important are they, and why). One of the limitations was that the MTE was carried out in a short time, and we did not have time to develop rapport and trust with the various stakeholders for in-depth discussions. Despite this, we had several online meetings including a validation workshop that divided the panel into small groups for discussion. We also had an online closing meeting with women win to share lessons. Having a face-to-face meeting might have yielded more debates around the topic of discussion, and supported learning about the change that has taken place. However, participation in the online session was good and pro-active, giving F&S a good feeling about the result.

One of our recommendations was the possibility to continue with MSC in the monitoring and learning of the project. For example, stories from one flower farm about specific needs can be discussed and validated by the farm or other farms, and help share experience as well as learning. The MSC provided insights into the beneficiaries’ perspective of the project’s impact, and allowed for sharing their life experiences. This can be done quarterly or in half-year sessions to discuss the collected stories, and select those that best represent important outcomes. Women Win will see how best to give follow-up to the recommendations, and F&S indicated availability for training organizations on the use of the MSC approach, and for support in the monitoring and evaluation process.

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