Step Up’s strategy advisor, Michael Canares, was contracted by Common Ground Consulting to train civil society organizations (CSOs) on monitoring, evaluation, and learning. The training, which was held on 15-18 February 2022 via Zoom, is part of the various training programs conducted for Ugandan CSOs by the Civil Society Strengthening Activity (CSSA) training program funded by the United States Agency for International Development.
Twenty-two CSOs attended the training. The cohort included representatives from the Uganda Women’s Network, the National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders, White Ribbon Alliance, Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group, ICT Policy Center for Eastern and Southern Africa, among others.
Synchronous sessions took place from 1 to 5 pm Uganda time (5 to 10 pm Philippine time). Asynchronous sessions, on the other hand, took place every morning of each day through organization-based assignments that are required to be presented during the synchronous sessions each day.
The participants appreciated the training design and delivery. At the end of the training, most of them were excited to use their knowledge to improve the M&E systems of their organizations.
Step Up Consulting was contracted by the Department of Interior and Local Government Region VII Regional Office to facilitate the review on the implementation of locally-funded projects as well as a strategic planning for the year 2019. The activity was held on December 19-21, 2018 at the Bohol Bee Farm Resort in Dauis, Panglao Island.
The activity was attended in by the DILG officials from the four provinces of Region VII, namely Bohol, led by Mr. Johnjoan Mende, provincial director; Cebu, led by Mr. Jerome Gonzales, provincial director; Negros Oriental, led by Mr. Dennis Quinones; and Siquijor, led by Mr. Kenneth Kilat.
Step Up Consulting trained officials of the Department of Interior and Local Government – Region VII, on the basics of Results-Based Management. The training intended to enable the participants, largely coming from the agency’s project development and management units (PDMU) in the Central Visayas region, to understand the basic concepts and principles of RBM as a tool in project development and management, practice the use of the RBM tools using case studies, and craft a plan of action in mainstreaming RBM practices with Region VII’s project development, monitoring, and evaluation practices.
The training was attended by the regional PDMU office, including the provincial PDMUs of Bohol, Siquijor, Cebu, and Negros Oriental. The training was held on March 13-15 at Golden Prince Hotel and Suites in Cebu City. It made use of a combination of adult-learning exercises, games, and case studies.
The participants expressed gratitude to the training team of Step Up Consulting for effectively carrying-out the learning exercises.
Step Up Managing Consultant Michael Canares attended the European Evaluation Society Conference in Dublin, Ireland last September 26-30 and is the only author presenting a research paper on the Philippines. Mr. Canares was also the chair of one of the sessions on “Evaluation for Organizational Effectiveness”.
The European Evaluation Society is Europe’s premier evaluation organization that seeks “to promote the theory, practice and utilization of high quality evaluation in Europe and beyond. This goal is pursued inter alia by bringing together academics, policy makers and practitioners, by setting up events and by offering platforms that connect relevant disciplines, partners and sectors and encourage knowledge exchange, good practice dissemination, professional co-operation and bridge building.”
The conference in Dublin was attended by more than 500 academics and practitioners on evaluation coming from different countries across the globe. The conference was held at the Conference Center Dublin.
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.
Step Up Consulting Services was contracted by the Provincial Road Management Facility to assist the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in reviewing its Local Road Management Performance Assessment Tool (LRMPAT), a tool in assessing the performance of local government units. A consultative workshop was done with representatives of regional offices of DILG across the country last 22-23 May 2014 at The Linden Suites in Ortigas, Manila.
The Local Road Management Performance Assessment (LRMPA) Consultative Workshop started at 8:45 a.m. on 22 May with an opening program where Ms. Ruby Romero of DILG – SLRF thanked the PRMF Team and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of the Australian Government for the support and partnership with DILG. For his part, Mr. Luke McNamara, Capacity Development Manager of PRMF emphasized the importance of sharing insights and experiences in the course of the workshop to further understand and improve the LRMPAT.
The LRMPAT was developed in 2012 when Mr. Canares was still the Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator of PRMF. The tool was pilot-tested in select cities and provinces in the same year to serve as input to the tool’s final revision. Mr. Ronet Santos was then contracted by PRMF to facilitate the whole process. In 2013, DILG rolled-out the implementation of the tool nationally and thus the need to hear the perspectives of those conducting the assessments in the provinces and cities.
A total of 46 participants attended the two-day workshop. Mr. Michael Canares was the lead facilitator of the activity while Ms. Jean Celeste Paredes was its documenter.
Step Up Consulting Services is one of the five finalists at the U4 Proxy Competition launched by the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Center based in Bergen, Norway. Mr. Michael Canares, Managing Consultant of the firm, presented his idea in front of scholars, aid agency representatives, and students, of how corruption at the local level can be measured using locally-generated tax and fees as a proxy indicator.
U4 is one of the leading think tanks focusing in anti-corruption. It concentrates its efforts in assisting donor practitioners to address corruption challenges more effectively through their development support. The centre is operated by the Chr. Michelsen Institute – an independent centre for research on international development and policy – and is funded by AusAID (Australia), BTC (Belgium), CIDA (Canada), DFID (UK), GIZ (Germany), Norad (Norway), Sida (Sweden) and The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.
The proxy challenge competition was launched last year “to address the perennial problem of assessing whether anti-corruption efforts are successful. “The Proxy Challenge” calls for greater use of bespoke proxy indicators. To assemble a body of promising ideas, U4 selected 5 finalists coming from development practitioners, monitoring and evaluation professionals, and researchers and convened these researchers in Bergen to present their work.
The five finalists were (1)Integrity Action; (2) Bernard Gauthier (HEC Montréal), Frédéric Lesné (CERDI), Joël Cariolle (CERDI); (3) Mihály Fazekas (University of Cambridge and Corruption Research Centre); (4) Joël Cariolle (CERDI), Frédéric Lesné (CERDI), Elise S. Brezis; and Michael Canares (Step Up Consulting). Mihaly Fazekas was the winner of the competition.
Michael Canares said that having been selected as one of the five finalists was already an honour in itself. In his presentation, he thanked the panel for giving him the opportunity to present his idea. Mr. Canares is the only presenter and finalist coming from the global south.
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 held its pre-New Year party last 29 December 2012 at the Villa Alzhun Tourist Inn and Restaurant. The party, attended by Step Up pool of consultants, their kids, and the trainees of the firm in the summer of 2012, was intended to celebrate the accomplishments of the firm in 2012 and also thank its main stakeholders within the firm in its contribution for the upcoming projects of the organization in 2013.
Step Up is now on its 9th year and its pool of consultants has significantly grown. Its pool of consultants are researchers, local government practitioners, development workers, and professors who are committed to the the development of organizations, institutions, and communities. Established as a social enterprise, Step Up is dedicated to assisting local communities, people’s organizations, local government units, non-profits, and business enterprises, in the delivery of services that benefits the society in general.
Step Up is also committed to training future leaders. As a strategy, it accepts five trainees each summer, selected from several applicants, to be trained in the provision of capacity building, financial management, and development research services to clients; these are the firm’s core services. Previous interns later became CPA board exam placers while majority now holds successful jobs within the country and elsewhere.
Step Up thanks its previous clients for believing in the capacity of the firm to provide quality services. In 2013, Step Up plans to launch two programs that will benefit communities as well as children.