Impacts of Czech cancer-fighting projects in Georgia and Serbia: lessons for the Visegrad Four

The goal of this article is to offer lessons learned on how to share what can be considered “transition experience” with countries in the Western Balkansand Eastern Partnership among others, in order to have a real impact on people’s lives. The author concludes that the Czech Republic, and other Visegrad countries, should share transition experience in areas where they have achieved evident progress and gained significant know-how which they are able to share. At thesame time, such experience sharing has to be needs-based and complementary to other development efforts in partner countries. Based on the international recognition of the progress of the Czech Republic and on the evidence from two evaluations discussed in the article, women’s cancer prevention and treatment seem to be a great example of a well-chosen transition experience shared with the Czech partner countries of Georgia and Serbia. Yet, for similar projectsin the future, it is necessary to reflect on the key local influencing factors; to understand exactly how each project will work and remain flexible throughout the project cycle; to focus on actual impacts and to accept accountability, and finally to practice evidence-based, consistent, long-term advocacy to achieve systemic changes.

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How to evaluate human rights support? 

What impact do human right NGOs have? 

If you work on human rights and are eager to know what is /not working or what impact you have, check this out. The notes are based on a debate today with an informal group of Czech organisations focusing on human rights in Caucasus. For example, what if a change in law, which we lobby for, ultimately negatively affects the people we aim to support? What if people get used to our minigrants and stop engaging without them? How to move away from counting numbers of trained activists to more meaningful indicators of change? To what extent to dive into the psychology of traumatized activists or their families to “measure project impact”? And how to involve different actors, including the (potential) human right activists, in decision making about our projects and approaches?  

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Can development projects be sustainable? 

What remained of Mongolian kindergartens 

In 2012, we have ventured with my colleague Marie Koerner through steppes of Mongolia to learn what remained of the Czech-funded mobile kindergartens. People remembered a great project, nomadic women teaching in mobile kindergartens, children learning playfully in a safe environment and integrating better to primary schools… and their parents having more time for work or smaller siblings. Well, not much remained of it 4 months after extended project end. Despite an official agreement, the Mongolian Ministry of Education did not provide a budget. It rather accepted a bigger donation from the Asian Development Bank for a similar project. Well, the new one did not benefit that many children in so many remote areas, but kindergartens had better qualified teachers, free meals and heating. And the donor was happy. Still, something remained of the Czech project – the positive attitude of the community towards pre-primary education and dedication to involve children at least in summer prep-schools organized by the government. Read the full evaluation report here in the Czech language. 

The sustainability stories are diverse, yet factors are often similar. The devil is in the detail – for example, a dedicated village chief can make a big difference. 

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How can civil society organisations be more effective? 

Global CSO Partnership 

I had the privilege to be a part of the Global Civil society Organisation (CSO) Partnership for Development Effectiveness since 2013. 

This global platform is first of its kind that brings together national and regional platforms of CSOs working in development cooperation. 

 It helps strengthen their capacities and advocate globally to governments, private sector and others on key issues – from transparency, to accountability, to true partnerships. A lot of ambitions, a lot of passion and first fruits! 

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What is gender and what does it mean for evaluations? 

Gender in evaluations

Recently, I have been engaged in a debate of evaluators if “non-tangible” aspects such as gender can be monitored and evaluated. Well, why not? 

First, let´s look at the definition of gender: it reflects socially-constructed roles and responsibilities of women and men in a given place or culture. 

Interestingly, gender is not only about women, but also about men. While planning, monitoring and evaluating a project, look at roles and responsibilities of both men and women in the specific culture and context. 

For example, if you evaluate a project on breast cancer prevention in Georgia, you need to consider that any treatment is expensive and that men often decide about such substantial investments. Therefore the evaluation can check to what extent were men involved in awareness raising activities and what messages were understood. Read more about this project evaluation here. 

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Lessons learnt from DEAR project evaluations 2013

Read here the lessons learnt from my evaluations of the Development Education and Awareness Raising (DEAR) projects, funded by the European Commission. I presented 7 lessons at the TRIALOG Partnership Fair in 2013 and added 2 more lessons after receiving individual feedback from more than 100 participants.

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