A HIGH IMPACT AFRICARE!
September 23 , 2011
We work hard to ensure that our best intentions generate the best possible outcomes for Africa. Achieving measurable results for the individuals and communities we serve is at the core of our approach, since this is the best proof of how well we are accomplishing our mission to improve the lives and livelihoods of those most in need throughout Africa.
Africare has always aimed high when it comes to effecting change within the communities with which we work.
Let me give you an idea of some of the recent high-impact projects under our belt.
We are currently facilitating farmers’ adoption of a highly effective system of rice intensification (SRI) methodology within our Timbuktu Food Security Initiative project in Mali (2008-2013). SRI is a set of proven crop-management practices that benefit farmers with small landholdings by increasing the productivity of rice cultivation while reducing requirements for inputs. After four years of SRI implementation, we have documented a tripling of average per-hectare rice yields, a doubling of farmers’ annual net revenue, and a 40% reduction in water requirements. We are honored to have been recognized for these successes through InterAction’s Best Practices Initiative Award.
In neighboring Burkina Faso, from 2005 to 2010 we worked in Zondoma Province, one of the poorest and least food secure areas in the country, on increasing communities’ capacity to manage food security risks through stronger, more diversified livelihood systems. As measured through Africare’s Food Security Community Capacity Index, communities assisted through the Zondoma Food Security Initiative Phase II project experienced a 65% increase in their ability to plan for and manage food security-related shocks. Other stand out results include a 20% decrease in the percentage of underweight children under three and a 240% increase in the percentage of households utilizing improved livestock techniques.
Looking at our health and HIV/AIDS portfolio, one particularly notable project we’re currently implementing and have repeatedly scaled up based on continued success is a comprehensive HIV and AIDS project in Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Since 2004, “Injongo Yethu” has taken a continuum of care approach to preventing the spread of HIV and care for those living with HIV and AIDS through a multi-faceted program that addresses education, testing and counseling, prevention, treatment, and even policy. To date, the project has directly benefitted 814,093 health care workers, people living with HIV/AIDS and their family members, and at-risk individuals. We look forward to sharing more information on the long-term impact of this increased capacity for health care workers and increased access to services for individuals as we move further into the next phase of this project’s life (2011-2013).
Many other past and present Africare projects warrant praise for their achievements, which you can read about in the Our Results section of our website.
While we can attribute much of these successes to strong technical expertise and skilled management, ambitious target setting, milestone tracking, and transparent evaluation also motivates our work. Systematic monitoring and evaluation of our projects have always been a practice of Africare’s. More recently, however, we have been raising our game in designing and managing for results, as the cornerstone of our work.
At Africare, we start every project by establishing baseline performance levels and defining appropriate indicators and targets of success. During implementation we gather data regularly to track progress towards the benchmarks that have been established. Monitoring data undergoes careful review to ensure programs are on track and, when necessary, is used to inform adjustments in implementation strategies. At the end of a project we conduct evaluations, directed by independent third parties, to draw in-depth conclusions about program strategies, assess overall impact and identify lessons that can be factored into the design of future projects.
Africare is also actively pursuing opportunities to carry out rigorous operations research and impact evaluations, including through randomized control trials when possible, in order to establish attributable, evidence-based conclusions about program results and best practices. This is because we believe that one of the best ways to grow our competencies is to test our projects using the most discriminating of methodologies available, and then to feed the learning that is generated back into our work. In this work we partner with best-in-class researchers and research institutes. For example, Africare is currently collaborating with Innovations for Poverty Action and the University of Michigan.
Of course, numbers and statistical significance will never be able to paint the entire picture of the impact made by Africare’s projects and staff. We will continue to ask our beneficiaries for their perspectives and about their experiences working with Africare and share these stories widely.