Using Person-centred thinking tools to evaluate development projects in Uganda

16 March 2016

As part of the HSA Foundation’s international work, we are committed to exploring how we can introduce person centred practices in different parts of the world, to support people to improve their lives in different ways. In Uganda, we are working together with The Zuri Project and Opportunity Africa, to see how we can use person centred thinking tools to evaluate community led development projects. Over the last 2 months, we have delivered workshops to introduce the Working/Not Working Tool to our Ugandan partners, as well as an introduction to using the four plus one tool. The Zuri Project have delivered 6 pilot projects over the past 6 months, and we will be using both of these tools as a method of monitoring and evaluating the projects, to see how they can be improved in the future.

Last month saw the completion of the pilot phase of The Zuri Allstars sports project in Kihembe, SW Uganda. In November and in collaboration with Opportunity Africa, The Zuri Project set up a youth football league in Kihembe, which brought together teams from 6 different villages, who played against each other during the school holidays. After each training session and match, the coaches delivered short workshops, educating the boys about things like the importance of hygiene, safe behaviours in relation to the transmission of HIV/AIDS, life skills and many other issues. This project will run during each school holiday, and the amount of teams involved will hopefully increase each year. In order to monitor and evaluate this project, we have split it into three stages:


Stage one: Monthly monitoring using Working/Not Working tool 

In order to receive regular updates about the projects, we have supported Opportunity Africa staff and volunteers to put together a monthly Working/Not Working for each project that they deliver. This allows them to inform their donors and their partners in the UK about any challenges that occur on a regular basis, and to problem solve together. I’ve included an example of one page of the monthly WNW below for The Zuri Allstars project:

Working not working

We are using the WNW for each of the 6 projects that are being delivered by The Zuri Project and Opportunity Africa, and it’s proving to be an incredibly useful way of regularly monitoring the progress of the projects. The project managers responsible for filling the monthly forms in find the process both straightforward and empowering, which we’re delighted to hear and we will continue to use them for projects in the future.


Stage two: Data collection relating to the five ways to wellbeing

As an organisation, each project that that The Zuri Project delivers is evaluated in relation to its impact on individual wellbeing, and we use NEF’s 5 Ways to Wellbeing as a method of measuring wellbeing. Simply, we believe that if we can co-design projects that support people to connect, be active, take notice, keep learning and give, then we can incrementally support people to improve their wellbeing. In order to measure this, we have designed a simple questionnaire that asks five questions that relate to each area of NEF’s ways to wellbeing. We asked 40 boys from different teams to complete the questionnaire, and as a result of participating in The inaugural Zuri Allstars Project:

  1. 80% of the boys agreed or strongly agreed that they have connected with their friends, family and members of the local community
  2. 80% of the boys agreed or strongly agreed that they have been active and exercised regularly
  3. 84% of the boys agreed or strongly agreed that they have been more aware of their feelings and surroundings
  4. 80% of the boys agreed or strongly agreed that they have tried new things and learned new skills
  5. 82% of the boys agreed or strongly agreed that they gave given their time to help other people in their community

As this is our first project evaluation, we’re absolutely delighted with the impact that this project has had on the wellbeing of the boys, but we are still learning and will have to keep tweaking our processes.


Stage three: four plus one evaluation with key stakeholders

For the final part of our evaluation, I facilitated a Four Plus One evaluation, through which we brought together the key project stakeholders involved in the planning, delivery and monitoring of the project. The 4 + 1 tool is a very simple, empowering way of evaluating a project, ensuring that all people involved have the chance to offer their feedback across the following areas:

  • What have we tried?
  • What have we learned?
  • What are we pleased about?
  • What are we concerned about?
  • What actions will we take in the future?

Ross March

There were 5 people present at the evaluation (the coach, the head teacher from the school where the project was based, the project manager, the director of the partner NGO and the project administrator) and the process was fantastic. We started with an opening round, before spending about an hour going through the process, with everyone having the opportunity to offer their opinions and thoughts about the project. There were no interruptions, and each person gave considered and extremely insightful feedback. After a closing round, everyone involved said they were delighted to have had the chance to offer their feedback, and they all felt empowered and in control of the project. We also got some tangible, positive actions that will inform the project brief for the next sports project, to be delivered later in the year.

We are absolutely thrilled with the results from our first evaluation, and also with how well the process was received and how happy everyone was to participate. The project was by no means perfect, and there are many things that we need to improve on before delivering the next sports project in November, but that is why we conduct these evaluations, so we can learn from our mistakes and improve for next time. Over the next few months, I will be spending time in Kihembe, working with Opportunity Africa to evaluate the other pilot projects that they have delivered over the past few months. We will be following the same evaluation process, and will be supporting our partners to facilitate the evaluation process themselves. We see this as a vital step in living out our participatory values and ensuring that each project is successful.

We’re extremely passionate about what we do and we’re delighted to see that person-centred practices are flexible and can be used effectively in an international setting. Our work in Uganda is incredibly exciting, and it’s wonderful to see local people taking control of their own development and feeling empowered to change their lives for the better.

Ross – @RossHSAUK




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