On 5 May 2014 ISIF Asia, in collaboration with the DECI-2 project, announced that three of our 2014 grant recipients were selected to receive additional mentoring in Utilization Focused Evaluation (UFE) and Research Communication.

This partnership aimed to find better ways to design and implement both evaluation and communications strategies for Internet Development projects, so that the resources used, the data collected, the analysis done, and the lessons learned better served the needs of each of the project teams and the implementing organizations selected, instead of answering exclusively to donor-driven requests and rigid evaluation frameworks.

The three projects were selected based on an independent readiness assessment conducted by the DECI-2 mentors. The project teams worked to implement innovative Internet-based solutions in their local communities. The mentoring provided help them to gain a deeper understanding of their activities, to more effectively communicate their findings, and most importantly, to appropriate the knowledge traditionally reserved to external evaluators about their project activities.

Mentoring was provided throughout the lifecycle of the projects, using a combination of online tools, coaching, and face-to-face interactions by a team of regional experts from the Asia Pacific region: Dr. Sonal Zaveri, leading the UFE mentoring; and Dr. Vira Ramelan, leading the Research Communication mentoring. Dr. Ricardo Ramirez and Dal Broadhead, who will provide oversight and support, will support the regional team at the international level.

This work was possible thanks to generous support from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida). The selected projects:

Maori Database (Cook Islands)

By: Anonga Tisam & Maureen Hilyard / Cook Islands Internet Action Group

The aim of the project is to develop a database of Cook Islands Maori Words, their English translations, and example usages in a sentence in both English and Maori. The database will then be made available in various forms: web, mobile, email, SMS, and social network applications. These applications will enable users to search for words in either English or Cook Islands Maori, subscribe to a daily random word service, and contribute new words to the database. The project offers the possibility to preserve and retain the language as native speakers add new words for modern concepts to an easily accessible online Cook Islands Maori Dictionary.

Using Mobile Application and Mapping Platform to Increase Accountability in Delivery of Maternal Health Services for Tea Garden Workers in Assam (India)

By: Sukti Dhital  & Jayshree Satpute / Nazdeek

Tea garden workers in Assam have insufficient access to health facilities and essential services. Existing facilities are severely underequipped and understaffed, and many villages are located in underserved and remote areas. As a result tea garden workers, many of them from the indigenous “Adivasi" community, suffer high rates of maternal and infant mortality with minimal access to legal and advocacy resources to address violations. This application will track, map, and receive real-time incident reporting through a SMS mobile and mapping platform on cases of maternal and infant mortality in one district (Sonitpur’s population is 1,924,110, an area with high Adivasi populations (approx. 600,000).

LTT - Link Tuberculosis with Technology (Cambodia)

By: Jacqueline Chen / Operation ASHA, Cambodia.

Cambodia suffers from a “High Burden of Tuberculosis (TB)”, according to the World Health Organization. Approximately two-thirds of all Cambodians are infected with TB, a contagious air-borne virus. It is estimated that about 120,000 suffer from TB and 24 people die of TB every day in Cambodia. The project will focus on the development of a contact-tracing application to stem TB spread using mobile phone and wireless Internet to reach the 80% of the population living in rural Cambodia. The application’s geo mapping function will enable mobile field supervisors to identify and react quickly to community hot spots with high TB prevalence to prevent outbreaks. It will also prompt field supervisors to perform the follow-ups required for each patient.

DECI-2 started in July 2012 and is a four-year project, building on lessons learned during DECI-1. Selected partners from the IDRC Information and Networks Program (I&N) will receive mentoring that is targeted and scheduled to match each project’s needs and work plans. The project teams receive mentoring in Utilization Focused Evaluation  (UFE), an approach to evaluation that emphasizes the use of evaluations; and in Research Communication, which will assist teams to develop and implement their communication strategies. During DECI-2 the mentors will measure the combined effect of UFE and Research Communication to enhance learning culture within projects, with a focus on communication planning, to maximize the reach and use of the research outcomes. For more information about DECI-2, please visit http://evaluationandcommunicationinpractice.ca.

About the team of mentors

Dr. Sonal Zaveri is an independent consultant and evaluator, founder member and secretary of the Community of Evaluators South Asia www.communityofevaluators.org, international advisor to the Child-to-Child Trust, University of London UK and an advisor to the feminist evaluators’ network www.feministevaluation.org. She has extensive experience with utilization-focused evaluation and was a mentor for DECI-1. She writes, trains, and works with participatory and transformative evaluation approaches. Her sector expertise is varied: HIV, sexual and reproductive health, education, and social protection. Her work experience spans more than 20 economies across Asia, East and West Africa, the Asia-Pacific, Central Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe with government, non-government organizations, INGOs, foundations, the UN, and multi-laterals. She lives in Mumbai.

Dr. Vira Ramelan is a communication consultant, based in Jakarta, Indonesia. She has more than 15 years of professional working experience in the field of communication and development in Indonesian and Asia Pacific economies. Her areas of expertise include research, strategy development and implementation, and assessment of communication plan design to support the achievement of project goals. She has a particular interest in participatory development communication, the environment, and ICT for development.

Dal Brodhead is the Director of the New Economy Development Group, a value-based consulting firm based in Ottawa. Dal brings a strong background in community development, project management, and applied research in Canada and internationally. Dal led one of CIDA’s largest micro-finance and human development projects in Bangladesh (1991-2002). He has worked in Asia, Africa, and Latin America as a Project Lead, evaluator and analyst. Dal and Ricardo are co-Principal Investigators of the IDRC DECI project.

Dr. Ricardo Ramírez is a researcher and consultant, based in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. He brings experience in the fields of evaluation and communication for development in rural and remote settings. He has collaborated with Dal over the years in evaluation assignments and communication strategy development, and is co-Principal investigator in DECI. He has recently co-authored a Primer on UFE with Dal Brodhead with the support of the IDRC.