The View from Above: Evaluating the DELGOSEA project

The View from Above: Evaluating the DELGOSEA project

An important requirement for all EU co-funded projects is a vigorous and thorough evaluation, taking a holistic approach of following the project from the beginning to the end. Ideally, the same evaluator stays with the project throughout the implementation period and DELGOSEA was lucky to have secured the services of Dr Marion Fischer from start to finish.

Dr Fischer explained that there were three evaluation periods during which she had the chance to observe the pilot cities and have in-depths talks with representatives of the cities, the LGAs and other stakeholders. She had also taken part in the introductory seminar for the national coordinators and had briefed these key people in the requirements for monitoring and evaluation of the project.

As part of the first evaluation round Dr Fischer visited one pilot city each in Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines to get a first feel for the way the replication of best practices was approached. In time for the mid-term evaluation, an exercise designed to ensure that DELGOSEA was on track and to be ready to deal with any problems quickly and immediately, Dr Fischer travelled to Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, visiting most of the pilot cities in these countries. Towards the end of the project, for the final evaluation, trips to all five countries ensured that the evaluator gained a good overview of all activities that had taken place. While these visits gave Dr Fischer the opportunity to judge the progress with her own eyes, she stressed that “being in close contact with the national coordinators throughout the project, discussing the logical framework and the monitoring of activities was even more important.”

Overall, the evaluator deemed the project a big success and was satisfied with the way that the objectives and results had been met. DELGOSEA is driving local development in the pilot cities and has achieved sustainability through encouraging local ownership and establishing a network of local government actors who will continue the best practice exchanges.

In every country, Dr Fischer found something that impressed her particularly. In Thailand it was “the way in which local universities were involved in the projects from the beginning, setting important processes in motion and providing technical innovations.” The task forces in all Thai pilot cities were also very good at strategic planning and keeping to the agreed timetable, so all the cities had progressed well. The role of the local government association in Vietnam, ACVN, was of particular benefit to the project implementation there. According to Dr Fischer: “This LGA has grown with the project and has performed its role as national advocate for its members successfully and stronger than before.” She also praised the technical expertise of the Vietnamese coaches who were instrumental in assisting the pilot cities.

In Cambodia, the national coordinator fulfilled a vital role in helping the cities implement the projects in a participatory way, since decentralisation, i.e. the devolving of responsibilities down to city level, was a recent development in the country and there was not yet much experience with good governance on the local level. Thanks to him, the pilot projects were designed and carried out with the interest of local people at the heart of all activities. The Indonesian pilot cities took a sophisticated approach and made sure that the pilot project was used for solving the most urgent problems in each city. Clearly the LGAs had been very conscious in matching best practices to cities where the activities could easily slot into the local development plan and where the DELGOSEA project was only one puzzle piece in a more complex plan. Dr Fischer explained: “Such a holistic approach to development ensures sustainability and forces different departments to work together on solving problems.”

However, there is of course also the danger of an individual small project not getting quite enough attention when being embedded in a multi-annual multi-million development plan. That had been Dr Fischer’s concern in the Philippines, but she was impressed by the way the coaches managed to always put the core project back at the centre of deliberations and actions, so that there were some measurable results and impacts by the end of August 2012. The evaluator also praised the sustainability aspect of the Philippine projects: “Today we can say that all the pilot projects will be successful, because all the citizens participate, both in the decision-making process and by making their own contributions to the projects’ successes.”

On a more personal level, Marion Fischer, was very impressed by the commitment and professionalism that she had encountered at all levels of best practice replications – from the national coordinators and coaches to the local government representatives of both the pilot and the best practice cities. They all clearly shared a vision of what they wanted to happen in their cities and worked together to make it come true.

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