Evaluating Empowered Communities with Global Brigades

Written by Maddison Maddison Staszkiewicz, Senior Monitoring & Evaluation Associate

When implementing programs, Global Brigades often focuses on collecting output data  – the number of patient consultations provided, the number of children educated in a workshop, the number of latrines constructed or the number of Community Bank loans disbursed, just to name a few.

While outputs are important indicators and are the basis of monitoring, it’s a good practice to also collect data about the outcomes and impacts related to programs through conducting evaluations. Evaluation allows us to learn more about the long-term effects and behavior changes as a result of implementing the Holistic Model. Both monitoring and evaluation work together to allow us to learn about the programs we are implementing.

We recently had the opportunity to conduct an evaluation of two empowered communities in Honduras, El Espinito and Tomatín. Volunteers on the Global Brigades Leadership Institutes teamed up with our staff to conduct a mixed methods evaluation collecting both qualitative and quantitative data simultaneously. The purpose of the evaluation was to learn about the experiences and impressions of community members working with Global Brigades to complete the Holistic Model in their community. In total, 38 community members participated in this evaluation.

When conducting any evaluation, it is important to analyze the data and share the results. Sometimes results are used for internal learning, but sharing the findings with stakeholders is a best practice to engage all stakeholders with the results.   

Results

We gained new information through the process of conducting the evaluation with El Espinito and Tomatín. The first result we found was that the evaluation participants’ favorite part of partnering with Global Brigades in their community was working with the water, sanitation, and hygiene programs to improve infrastructure in the community. 

Participants were asked to provide three words to describe Global Brigades which were arranged in a word cloud based on frequency. The words were positive, and many of the words used align with our values as an organization.

During this evaluation we also sought to learn more about the perception of how Global Brigades works with the community. A participant from El Espinito shared that the best way was, “the organizational skills that brigades provided through empowerment, the holistic approach, and the forming of committees for self-sustainment.” Other participants described the same concept, which affirms that the Holistic Model is well-received.

Evaluation participants were also asked to compare the status of three aspects of their community (health, water and sanitation, and economic development) compared to when Global Brigades began working with the community, though not exclusive to Global Brigades’ programming since there are other factors that can influence changes. Every respondent said health was much better, and while water and sanitation and economic development varied, the average responses were between a little better and much better. Learning that the community as a whole is self-identifying changes in these areas is impactful as it helps Global Brigades understand the perception of the community’s development over time.

In the next five years, community members hope to see continuing improvements, including access to health care, water and sanitation, and infrastructure in the community. They also hope to have continued partnership both with Global Brigades and other organizations in order to reach their goals.

Receiving this insight and feedback from the participants from El Espinito and Tomatín in the evaluation is valuable as we continue to implement the Holistic Model and make progress toward our goal of empowering 100 communities. If you are interested in learning more about monitoring and evaluation and our methodologies, check out our website.

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