Baastel’s evaluation of the International Trade Center’s (ITC) project on Promoting Intra-Regional Trade in Eastern Africa: Kenya, Tanzania & Zambia allowed the consultant to do something that is always valued, though not always possible: spend an extended time in the field. The chance to become immersed in the project environment and get to know stakeholders through extended field work enriches every aspect of an evaluation. A month-long mission began with an institutional visit to ITC’s headquarters in Geneva, followed by more than three weeks in Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia, with the consultant reaching almost 40 beneficiary SMEs in various national regions. In addition, the process involved interviews in all three capital cities with a number of implementing agencies and other partners.
Everyone involved – the ITC, the various stakeholders and beneficiaries, and the evaluator himself – considered this evaluation an outstanding experience. The consultant, who had conducted dozens of similar mandates, considered it “one of the most interesting, detailed, and complete” he had ever led: “All types of stakeholders were met in each country, respondents were open and transparent, an impressive amount of qualitative information was collected and analyzed, and the evaluation report was read, commented on, and deemed very useful by all ITC stakeholders.”
The evaluation was an excellent example of a robust, standard methodology, emphasizing comprehensive data collection and rigorous analysis. Like all Baastel mandates, a flexible and collaborative approach to managing the evaluation was important to its success. The evaluation also incorporated some innovative approaches, such as a full reconstruction of the project theory of change (ToC) which was not available at the outset. Once the project managers had agreed upon the ToC – which was presented in an engaging visual way to facilitate understanding – it became the basis for assessing the project’s progress towards the identified results.
While the evaluation was based mainly on qualitative data, the consultant was also asked to develop a numerical scale with associated benchmarks to rate the projects. This aspect of the methodology also proved especially useful in communicating and comparing results in a standard manner across the various project environments.
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International Trade Center (ITC)
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