As a practitioner of evaluation working in community development, my daily routine involves making judgment about whether development projects are effective or not. But I have come to realise that some development projects and programs are trying to change people’s behaviours that even they themselves (project staff and organizations) cannot follow. I’ve come across two such projects recently.
One is an organization working to promote the practice of exclusive breastfeeding among new moms, while their internal organizational policy doesn’t favour their own staff (mothers) to do the same way.
Another is a project working on improving community awareness about disasters and promotes people to run to a safe open space if an earthquake happens. During an evaluation, when there was an actual earthquake coincidentally happened, none of the project staff but only me and some other community members ran out of the building. How funny is that?
It reflects one of the Myanmar sayings ‘nga pyaw thalo lout, nga lout thalo ma lout ne’ which means ‘Do as I Said But Don’t Follow What I Do’ and this goes back to our previous discussions around robotic nature of current aid industry.
Yesterday while I was reviewing a workshop material prepared by Jim Rugh, a famous evaluation theorist and co-author of a book named ‘Real World Evaluation’, I just love one of his quotes saying that ‘Evaluate others as you would have them evaluate you’.
This message warns all development actors to go back and see the relevance of the judgements we make. We still inevitably need to make daily judgments for different reasons, but doing it in a bit more humanized and natural way may improve the quality of our judgments.
If you want to find out more about Real World Evaluation, please see www.RealWorldEvaluation.org