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Monitoring & Evaluation: A retrospective from H4H/S4H Volunteer Maika Nicholson

Eric & I, long-time friends from Seattle, Washington, arrived for our 3-month stay in Cape Town and quickly realized that ‘jumping in feet first’ would be the most invigorating way to explore our new home.  From clutching seat edges of the ‘mini-bus’ taxis that tear around the City, to arbitrarily selecting unfamiliar cuts of Braai meat at Gugulethu’s famous Mzoli’s, pushing the limits of our comfort zone made our experience in South Africa unique from Day 1.

Our involvement with Hoops 4 Hope/Soccer 4 Hope was no exception; we realized immediately that ‘jumping in feet first’ was the modus operandi at S4H/H4H as well.  On our third day in Cape Town, we arrived at the Rainbow Center in Gugulethu to meet with Kita, Karl, Fred, Ta and We-We and were rapidly brought up to speed on the organization’s structure & programs.  We even had the good fortune to witness a H4H tournament held at the Rainbow Center that same day.  The energy radiating from the court, and enthusiasm of each individual immediately impressed on us the importance of H4H/S4H to the youth leaders, organizers and communities involved.  By the end of a  the day, we had decided to focus our efforts on streamlining the Logical Framework Document and Monitoring and Evaluation system;  tasks we felt would allow us to make an immediate impact on an integral piece of the program.

What’s a Logframe?

The Logical Framework (Logframe) is a management tool used in the design and monitoring and evaluation of development projects, and is presented in a four column table. The rows are used to describe events that take place as a project is implemented: the project’s Overall Goal, Purpose, Outputs, and Activities.  The four columns provide different types of information about the events in each row. The first column is used to provide a description of the event. The second column lists one or more Objectively Verifiable Indicators (OVIs) for each of the events described in the first column. The third column describes the Means of Verification (MOVs) that support the OVIs.  The fourth column lists the Assumptions – external factors that are believed could influence (positively or negatively) the events described in the narrative column (but which cannot be directly controlled by the project or program managers).

We worked closely with S4H Director Karl Voysey to reorganize the Logframe’s Outputs and categorize the program’s current activities and the OVIs, MOVs and assumptions that correspond to each Output. For Output 3, the following are examples for (a) activity: Weekly League Soccer/Basketball Games, (b) OVI: 1 League game is played per team per week,  (c)MOV: League Game score-sheets & attendance registers (d) Assumption: Field/court availability for all teams scheduled to play.

H4H/S4H Logical Framework: Key Outputs

Output 1: Youth leaders are empowered to effectively run & manage a community development sports league in partnership with Schools

Output 2: Youth leaders are trained to effectively facilitate a progressive life skills curriculum; implemented through community development sports leagues

Output 3: Youth leaders are trained to effectively coach and manage schools sports teams, who participate in the community development sports league

Output 4: Youth leaders are empowered to take control of their future through a personal and professional mentorship and skills development training program

Output 5: Sports based outreach and holiday programs are run by youth leaders (in partnership with government, corporate, community structures and other NGOs) as further community development initiatives and for promotional purposes 

Concurrently, we worked on restructuring the M&E system, which is inherently linked to the Logframe’s structure.  For each Output and corresponding Activity/OVI/MoV in the Logframe, we begin brainstorming and categorizing pertinent statistics that indicate the level of success of each Output.

Expanding on the above example for Output 3, Score-Sheets/Attendance Registers (MOVs) would be used as a tool to collect M&E data & compile statistics that clearly indicate the success (or failure) of the weekly league games activity.  For example, if compiled M&E data shows that 100% of scheduled league games occurred with 100% MVP attendance and 95% Player attendance, the M&E data supports that the program is succeeding with regard to this particular activity.  M&E data is therefore a powerful tool in identifying exactly where the program is succeeding, and where improvements need to be made.  It can be used to pinpoint specific individuals, schools or communities that are excelling, and ones that need more support.

Karl, Fred and Kita’s ability to immediately involve us with the organization, and the tireless enthusiasm of all involved galvanized us to make a modest, but hopefully measurable impact during out short stay in Cape Town.  Our hope is that we were able to nudge the Logframe and M&E System in the right direction, though – future volunteers take note – it is clear that the applicability of these documents & systems rely on continuous adaptation and improvement to fit the program’s current needs and available resources.  Our time in Cape Town was enhanced invaluably by working with H4H/S4H; to everybody we worked with – Thank you! Enkosi! Ngiyabonga! Dankie!