Written by Liz Rowe, Global Brigades Program Associate in Honduras
What if you were told that your volunteer efforts were not having as big of an impact as you had hoped? What about a bigger impact? Monitoring impact is an essential part of sustainable development work. In September 2018, as a Program Associate with Global Brigades, I participated in an Engineering Brigade with the University of Warwick and University of California Irvine where we had the opportunity to go to the community of El Censo in Honduras. El Censo is home to 180 determined individuals who worked diligently with volunteers to complete a water system in 2017. Upon visiting, I was able to interact and engage with members of the community to get their opinion on the water system. It was widely expressed that they were thrilled not only with the system itself, but the maintenance and follow-up that came along with it. This compelled me to look more into Global Brigades’ efforts to sufficiently ensure the satisfaction of the community members. After all, if they aren’t satisfied, what is the point in pursuing these projects?
The Monitoring and Evaluation team at Global Brigades is in place to evaluate the effects of project implementation and to assess the success of projects from the viewpoint of community partners. This is a crucial step as it ensures that community members are enthusiastic about the implemented systems. If community members are not satisfied with the project, Global Brigades will collaboratively work to adapt and improve program initiatives.
Each project that is implemented follows a six step model to ensure a holistic approach. Before Global Brigades partners with a community, the community needs to express interest and a promise of commitment. Then, the steps of initial partnership, brigade preparation, and brigade implementation occur. The final step of the model is the staff follow-up. Only once this is complete can the community transition to becoming ‘empowered’. An empowered community is one that is able to succeed and thrive on their own after meeting their goals in healthcare, economic development, and WASH. Community members are equipped with the tools and knowledge to continue growing as a community.
As volunteers and staff aim to make an impact in the communities we partner with, it is imperative to measure our impact. With extensive monitoring and evaluation, it is my hope that we will be able to complete projects and confidently say that we made an impact that was at least as big as we had hoped for, if not bigger. After visiting El Censo, it is clear that the partnership between the community and Global Brigades has had a positive impact for all.
To find out more about Global Brigades’ commitment to measuring impact, please click here.
https://www.globalbrigades.org/communities/el-censo/ (Partner Community El Censo)
https://www.globalbrigades.org/impact/evaluation/ (Monitoring & Evaluation)
https://www.globalbrigades.org/impact/holistic-model/ (Holistic Model)
https://www.globalbrigades.org/impact/empowered-communities/ (Empowered Communities)
https://www.iied.org/effective-evaluation-for-sustainable-development-goals (Importance of follow-up and review)