At The Hunger Project we believe it is important to remember our primary audience for program Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) data is still the communities where we work. The Hunger Project works to balance the emphasis of scientific rigor on data with the need for input and feedback from community members. Below are reflections from Emmanuel Avevor and Francis Osei-Mensah, Hunger Project M&E Officers in Ghana, who led Results Dissemination Workshops of a recent Outcome Evaluation Pilot Study to community partners.
There is no doubt the primary customer and consumer of our Epicenter Strategy and any study for that matter should be our community partners themselves. Thus, a key goal (and mandate) of the Outcome Evaluation Pilot Project (OEPP) is to effectively share survey results and give feedback to our main stakeholders to empower them to set and prioritize developmental goals. OEPP survey results were shared with at the five selected epicenters from the study — Nkawanda, Nsuta-Aweregya and Odumase-Wawase, Banka and Kyempo. A total of 142 (86 males, 56 females) community partners (epicenter leadership, chiefs, queen mothers, assembly members, health workers, animators) participated in the dissemination forums.
Given the low literacy and numeracy levels of many participants, disseminating statistical information and analysis posed some challenges — even though trainings were conducted in the local language. In order to address these challenges, the presentations focused on key findings in each of the eight survey modules using visual representations of the data (charts and graphs), offering direct comparisons to national or regional data. To fully engage participants, the M&E officers explained concepts like “percentage” and helped explain key chart features. The presentation was followed by a Q&A period.
Overall, we have noted a reinvigorated commitment of epicenter leadership after disseminating the OEPP results and giving hard evidence of the community’s progress. They were also inspired to re-commit to areas where the study exposed weaknesses or unfavorable findings. At the end of the exercise, the partners on the whole appreciated their involvement in the study. They reiterated that most NGOs come to collect data but the community members do not know what they use it for and because of that they are in recent times reluctant in giving information. The participants reported a greater understanding and appreciation for surveys and have asked to continue being included in this fashion for future studies.