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VIP Profile: Carrie Beason Chandrarasurin, Jillian Christie, Caitlin Kelly, Tiffany Law and Anael Ngando

Published 12/11/2013 by Global Communities

VIP Profile: Carrie Beason Chandrarasurin, Jillian Christie, Caitlin Kelly, Tiffany Law and Anael Ngando

Rwanda, November 2013

Using the Most Significant Change Method to Evaluate Ejo Heza Program Impact

In the second practicum partnership between Global Communities and the American University (AU), School of International Service), Washington, DC, a team of five AU volunteers applied the Most Significant Change (MSC) technique to conduct a qualitative mid-term evaluation of Ejo Heza project. Enabling Market Integration through Rural Group Empowerment (or Ejo Heza) is designed to improve the livelihoods and food consumption of Rwanda’s very poor, particularly women. How were these goals attained at mid-term, and in what ways could program interventions improve were the focus of AU team’s research which involved 120 program beneficiaries from five districts in southern Rwanda.
“Most Significant Change” (MSC) is defined as a form of participatory monitoring and evaluation that involves the collection of significant change (SC) stories from beneficiaries at the field level, and the systematic selection of the most important of these stories. Typically, they provide rich snapshots of local-level impact which complement quantitative evaluation and illustrate diverse and emergent outcomes of the program. Analyzing collected stories allowed the AU team to formulate findings in all program components: agriculture, health and nutrition, literacy and numeracy, savings and lending, and social transformation.
The kernel question asked of the beneficiaries was the following: “Since your involvement in Ejo Heza, what do you think has been the most significant change in your household/ life/ community?” Daniel, 56, from Nyamagabe, responded this way: ”Before I joined Ejo Heza and before the agriculture training, I had a production of 100 kg each year on average. After using all of the techniques I learned from the training, I harvested 874 kg in one single year, mostly because of the treatment of the maize after the field.” And Ferdinand, 25, from Nyagosozi, said: “A student used to do business without being literate and people would steal from him but now he does better. All the people in the group they know how to do all that.”
By sharing their stories, beneficiaries point to the most pertinent aspects of the program and those most likely to bring about similar change in the lives of others. These testimonials provided the AU team with material for recommendations regarding variety and quality of trainings to be offered, the need to support Behavior Change Volunteers to facilitate their work with beneficiaries, as well as work with savings groups (so called SACCOs) to facilitate lending to increase economic security, skills, and experience in managing money, and develop confidence in financial systems. Based on gathered testimonials Ejo Heza helped beneficiaries to find social support networks which leads to a feeling of less isolation and a personal responsibility to contribute to their overall community. Women, in particular, reported feeling empowered through generating their own income.