Step Up Consulting signed a contract with Soil and Water Conservation to conduct the end-of-project evaluation of its project implemented in Bohol, Philippines.
The project entitled the project “Strengthening the Capacity of a Farmers Federation and their Communities to Address Climate Change in Bohol, Philippines”, was implemented in the Province of Bohol with funding support from Misereor. The project aimed to continue to address the institutional strengthening of a farmer’s federation by providing (1) organizational management and technical training/workshops, monitoring, and evaluation; (2) further capacity building for members of the federation; (3) assistance for sustainable management and conservation of the environment including climate change adaptation, DRRM, biodiversity conservation and protection while strengthening environmental ethics in the local community, especially the youth; and (4) facilitation in formulating implementable Disaster Risk Reduction Management and Contingency Plan of the barangays.
The project is implemented benefitting the farmers federation composed of more than 10 cooperatives and farmers associations located in several towns in central Bohol, 15 Barangay Local Government Units (BLGUs) in the municipality of Batuan, selected elementary or secondary school students and teachers in the project municipalities, and community residents in barangay Bahi, Albuquerque, where the SWCF office is located.
Project evaluation is part of Step Up Consulting’s primary expertise. The team at Step Up will be lead by its Research Lead, Ms. Jean Celeste Paredes.
Step Up Consulting conducted the midterm evaluation of a disaster risk reduction and management project implemented by the Bohol Integrated Development Foundation in three municipalities in Bohol. The project, Disaster Risk Reduction Initiatives in Vulnerable Areas Toward Effective Governance and Resilient Communities in the Municipalities of Loay, Loboc and Sevilla, Bohol Province, Philippines, is now on its third year and is funded by MISEREOR.
The project aims to increase the knowledge and capacities of the individuals and to comprehensively formulate a plan and budget for disaster risk reduction and management. The project intends to capacitate local communities especially those located in high-risk areas, to become more aware and active in disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness.
The evaluation involved triangulation of approaches: a combination of survey, focus group discussion, key informant interview and evaluation of program traces or documentation.
A review and analysis of documents specifically on project documentations, minutes of meetings, photographs, progress reports, ordinances and other relevant data were made to evaluate the extent of effectiveness in the other variables identified.
A survey was conducted to gather relevant data more particularly on two aspects included in the evaluation framework. This investigated areas of interventions versus need and results versus objectives. The survey included the barangay officials and members of the volunteer groups. The questionnaire was developed, validated and pilot tested prior to the actual conduct.
Jean Celeste Paredes, Step Up’s research chief, led the team that conducted the evaluation. The final report was submitted to BIDEF in February 2021.
Michael Canares, Strategy Advisor at Step Up Consulting is part of the implementation team of the Roads for Development Program Phase 2 (R4D2) currently implemented in Vanuatu by Adam Smith International, with funding support by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
R4D2 will support the Government of Vanuatu’s Public Works Department (PWD) under the Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Utilities (MIPU). The program commenced in June 2019 and will run to the end of June 2022, with an option to extend by two years, subject to DFAT approval. The program aims to contribute to the achievement of the Government of Vanuatu’s (GoV) National Sustainable Development Plan 2016-2030 (NSDP) goals, more particularly the following:
A dynamic public sector with good governance principles and strong institutions delivering support and services to all citizens of Vanuatu
Sustainable and well-maintained infrastructure and services for all, through inclusive and effective partnerships
Mr. Canares is R4D2’s short-term Monitoring and Evaluation Adviser.
Step Up Consulting strategy advisor, Michael Canares, was engaged by the Gerry Roxas Foundation to train its grantees on outcomes reporting using a results-based management lens (RBM). The training was conducted in Belian Hotel in Tagbilaran City on February 6-7 2018.
Gerry Roxas Foundation manages and implements the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) grant facility called the Philippine-American Fund or Phil-Am Fund. Phil-Am Fund finances “local activities that support economic growth, good governance, anti-trafficking in persons, child and adult literacy, and environmental objectives of USAID in the Philippines”.
A total of 56 participants attended the training composed of roughly around 12 grantees of Phil-Am Fund.
Results-based management is a key expertise of Step Up Consulting. In the past, the firm has been engaged by international organizations as Louis Berger, Woord en Daad, Fundacion Ipade, SABIC Belgium to conduct monitoring and evaluation work.
Step Up was commissioned by Woord en Daad to conduct the Most Significant Change (MSC) Training for its partners in the Philippines and Bangladesh. The training was conducted at the CCT Tagaytay Retreat and Training Center last 24-26 September 2014 and was participated in by 9 participants from the Philippines, 4 from Bangladesh, and 1 from the Netherlands, a representative of the commissioning organization.
Woord & Daad is an international development organization, established in the Netherlands, working in 20 countries with 29 partner organizations. A number of its partner organizations is interested in increasing capacity on learning through participatory methodologies. For this training, Woord en Daad chose Most Significant Change as the method to be implemented by two of its partners in the Philippines and one partner from Bangladesh.
MSC involves the collection of significant change (SC) stories emanating from the field level, and the systematic selection of the most significant of these stories by panels of designated stakeholders or staff. It intends to capture project outcomes, and in some cases, impact without having to use project or program indicators.
The participants were very impressed with the results of the training. The post-training evaluation of participants showed that Step Up scored very high in training facilitation, logistics, planning, and design. The main trainer was Michael Canares and Step Up handled all training logistical arrangements, from the design of training bags to the choice of training materials. Step Up will also provide post-training support to the organizations as they conduct their pilot implementation of MSC in their respective organizations.
Michael Canares, managing consultant of Step Up Consulting, was contracted by the Local Governance Support Program for Local Economic Development (LGSP-LED) to advise on results measurement and reporting processes since September 2013. Currently, Mr. Canares is now on the final phase of the consulting engagement which will culminate with the preparation of a manual on measuring local economic development that local government units can use.
“The Local Governance Support Program for Local Economic Development (LGSP-LED) is an eight-year (July 2008-July 2016) CAD $18 million collaborative project of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Philippines. It is implemented by a consortium of the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) and the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC) acting as the Canadian Executing Agency (CEA). The CEA is working in partnership with the Philippine Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). The Program purpose is to reduce poverty by strengthening local governance and supporting sustainable economic development. The Ultimate Outcome is expected to be improved local economic development for Filipino women and men.”(Dorotan and Frick, 2012, page 5).
LGSP-LED seeks to improve the measurement and tracking of local-level economic outcomes in the program, in particular those related to impact of the program’s activities on investment attraction, business formation and growth in enterprises (MSMEs). Mr. Canares’ work was to assist the CEA in developing a set of indicators (along with the related methods for collecting baseline data, data sources for ongoing tracking, collection methods, frequency and responsibility) that could be easily tracked by LGUs and/or their private sector partners (chambers of commerce, local business clubs).
Step Up Consulting assists its long-time client Ilog Kinderhome Foundation, Inc. (IKFI) in two engagements – in training its project staff in the use and conduct of Most Significant Change (MSC) as a monitoring and evaluation tool, and in facilitating the conduct of its Annual Evaluation and Planning Workshop.
The training on MSC was attended by project staff of the Empowering Indigenous Communities for Inclusive Development Project (EIPID). EIPID, funded by the European Union through Kindernothilfe, is implemented in the province of Antique in order to empower indigenous communities socially, economically, and politically. The workshop was held at the CICM Retreat House in Talisay, Negros Occidental in October 28-30, 2013.
It can be recalled that Step Up Consulting assisted KNH in the writing of the EIPID concept note and full proposal some five years ago and was also the evaluation and planning consultant in the early part of the project.
The Annual Planning and Evaluation Workshop, on the other hand, was held at Natures Village Resort Hotel in Talisay, Negros Occidental last 2-5 January 2014. The workshop covered the planning and evaluation of three projects of IKFI – EIPID, Child-Focused Community Development implemented in Kabankalan, and WIP Project implemented in Ilog, both in Negros Occidental.
Step Up Consulting Services was contracted by the Soil and Water Conservation Foundation (SWCF) to conduct the terminal evaluation of a three–year project on income generation, community organization strengthening, and environmental management funded by DISOP and Misereor, two European-based NGOs. The project, “Employability and Capability Building of Farmes in Selected Barangays of Batuan Bohol” aims, that by the end of 2013, the livelihood and sustainable income of members of the communities in 7 barangays along the Makapiko River and its tributaries in Batuan Municipality of Bohol is secured for the long term. It also strengthens previously assisted organizations of SWCF in the Eskaya communities in Sierra Bullones, Pilar, Garcia Hernandez, and Guindulman.
All seven barangays directly assisted have people’s organization, mostly in the form of cooperatives and associations. The five of the organizations are considered weak in their structure, have limited membership, and are not very stable as a potential source of income, training, reasonable credit and entrepreneurship development for the community. In most areas there is poor implementation of environment laws that has led to environmental degradation in terms of chemical pollution (pesticide and commercial fertilizer), solid waste pollution, removal of forest cover, biodiversity loss through hunting and collection of flora and fauna and disturbance of local caves and their resources. All these activities are magnified when done on karst because of the very nature of the geological formation itself.
To respond to these concerns, the project aims to achieve three objectives, to wit;
Associations/NGOs are capacitated to manage their affairs and link among themselves and other stakeholders to create a sustainable and conducive environment for securing their livelihoods.
Agricultural and non- agricultural enterprises for the local residents, especially those who are now below the poverty line are newly created and strengthened.
Project beneficiaries are better capacitated to deal with adverse affects of climate, political and social disturbances as well as able to reverse the environmental degradation of their natural resources.
Mr. Alvin Luis Acuzar, former associate of Step Up manages the evaluation project. Alvin is currently the Executive Director of the Bol-anon United Sectors Working for the Advancement of Community Concerns (BUSWACC). He is joined by Doreen Lerin, Marilou Sale, Lorebien Lagapa, Arlen Salgados-Canares, and Edaline Bolotaulo, all seasoned community researchers of Step Up with more than five years of experience in development evaluation.
This evaluation has three objectives:
To evaluate the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and outcomes of the project to the situation of targeted people and groups in the community, with particular focus on farmers and their families.
To evaluate the effectiveness of the projects in view of their objectives and to analyse the sustainability of the project results
To assess the roles and contributions of the different stakeholders in the implementation of the project
Step Up Consulting Services assisted an AECID project implemented in partnership with the Philippine Commission on Women in firming up its results chain and project formulacion.
The “Institutional Strengthening of National and Local Governance on Human Rights and Economic Empowerment with a Gender Focus: Implementation of the Magna Carta of Women,” is a project partnership between the Agencia Española de Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID) and the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW). AECID supports PCW’s mandate under the Magna Carta of Women as the over-all monitoring and oversight agency in ensuring the implementation of the law. The project will also provide assistance to oversight national government agencies and selected local government units in performing their roles relative to the realization of their mandates under MCW.
Step Up facilitated the workshop held at Lima Park Hotel. It was attended by key personnel of the project last January 2012. An indepth review of the draft PCW-AECID Project Implementation Plan, Project Formulation Document and draft Performance Measurement Frameworks of LGUs was done to serve as basis in the revision of the results chain and the corresponding measurement indicators.
Step Up Consulting Services assisted the Philippine Commission on Women in refining the results chain of one of the components of a project it implements with the support of AECID. This activity was done in a training workshop held in Manila last 19-21 November.
The training workshop was attended by representatives from 6 provinces, namely, Aklan, Albay, Iloilo, Mindoro, Saranggani, and Surigo del Norte as well as by representatives from the Project Management Office and the Philippine Commission on Women.
The objectives of the training-workshop were to make participants understand the basic concepts and principles of RBM as a tool in project development and management; practice the use of the RBM tools using the three-year project target for LGUs; arrive at clear indicators for the 3 year-targets and provide an overview of project development and management including its planning methodologies and tools.
The participatory, inter-active, and activity-based learning sessions proved productive with the adult learners. The participants were able to efficiently assimilate new concepts better because of this approach. Likewise, the RBM workshops helped crystalize ideas of participants and made more explicit their theories of change in so far as the project is concerned.
The diversity of outputs is impressive in terms of sectors and themes. Saranggani concentrated on indigenous communities and indigenous women, Aklan on VAW victims, Albay on disaster-prone communities. Surigao del Norte and Mindoro focused on women entrepreneurs while Iloilo tried to cover several marginalized women groups.
Step Up will continue to assist PCW in this project.