Are we too scared to measure the impact of funded projects?

Too many externally financed projects have less impact on the beneficiaries than initially stated, because the project management team responds to the reporting requirements of the donor- and these often revolve around providing evidence of expenditure against budget headings and key performance indicators as outputs, but not outcomes.

Outputs are the things you did during the project, i.e. how many people attended your training workshop. Outcomes are the change this output caused (how did the behaviour and then performance of the trainees change because of attending). Measuring the latter is much harder but ultimately that was the purpose of the funded project. But are we too scared to measure it, in case it shows little was achieved?

Projects to train stakeholders in sustainable tourism often use the number of participants and the number of nationalities represented as key performance indicators- – this however says little about how much they learned, or more importantly how that learning has been applied to their practices.

nepal sustainable tourism impact

The importance of following up

An EuropeAid Asia Invest project, Marketing Assistance to Nepal for Sustainable Tourism Products (MAST-Nepal), trained 30 Nepalese tour operators to be more competitive through sustainability. The training used sustainability action planning processes- four training sessions were scheduled each four months apart, first covering product development before moving onto marketing. At each session, the tour operators used an action plan template to include which practices they already had in place for each issue covered, and what they were planning to do different in the next four months. A ground coordinator copied the plans at the end of each training session and followed up during the four months the progress of the operators, providing tailor-made help so much of the plan would be completed before the next training session. This gave the team evidence of which workshops worked best and it made the reporting back to the funder much more meaningful.

Do you have experiences on project management you would like to share with us?


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    • Megan Epler Wood on January 25, 2013 at 5:35 pm
    • Reply

    The Planeterra Foundation of Canada is developing a brand new project monitoring framework for a 3 year IDB MIF project and we will want to exchange info with other professionals on our approach.

    We are avoiding the pitfalls mentioned.

  1. We had a project as “ART for conservation” in Iran by UNDP/GEF/SGP found,with aim of promoting women’s empowerment through involvement in Ecotourism project in Qeshm Island .
    I think women have a key role in sustainability of this kind of projects. We find a lot of creative ways to go to the correct route and we changed our mind based on local people participation and their ideas.Flexibility of this kind of project and report’s format is very important.

    • Gerda Warnholtz on January 31, 2013 at 4:42 pm
    • Reply

    Dear Megan, I am a PhD candidate at the ICRT-Leeds Metropolitan University. I am based in Mexico and have been involved in community-based tourism projects inserted in Indigenous social groups living within or near Natural protected Areas. The results have not been as expected, and I intend to evaluate the Alternative Tourism Program for Indigenous Communities run by the National Council for the Development of the Indigenous Peoples in Mexico. I have noticed that there are huge differences, depending on the context in which the program is applied, and I would like to find out what works (or not)?, for whom?, in which circumstances? and why?. For this purpose I will use a specific methodological approach that will help me uncover those issues. It is evident that it is impossible to study the whole implementation process, therefore, I will concentrate on one aspect, leaving the rest for further research. The issue I want to find out, is to what extent Mexican Indigenous communities are able to incorporate a tourism business into their every-day life. Is the context in which these projects are inserted appropriate or ‘ready’ to assimilate tourism as a business? There is an issue of intersubjectivity that has not been taken into account that could be responsible for much of the failure of CBT projects in such isolated, marginalized, impoverished communities.

    • Gerda Warnholtz on January 31, 2013 at 4:43 pm
    • Reply

    If you are interested, we can share information!
    Best regards,

    1. Hola Gerda,
      Estoy interesada en contactarte para un proyecto de turismo sustentable.
      Me puedes dar tu correo o teléfono por favor.

      1. Hola de nuevo Leonor, si me das tus datos, me pongo en contacto contigo!

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