REMOTE PROJECT EVALUATION
Design, coordination, data analysis and oversight of evaluation process conducted during COVID-19 pandemic
The McGovern-Dole Food for Education Project, financed by USDA and implemented by Planet Aid International and ADPP Mozambique, delivers school feeding in 271 schools across four districts of Maputo province, Mozambique, along with infrastructure, freshwater supplies, latrines, health interventions and nutrition training and awareness, as well as teacher training and a literacy component. Following her coordination of the evaluations of the first phase of this comprehensive project, Simone acted as external evaluation lead for the midterm evaluation of phase two and is currently leading the team conducting the final evaluation. She is leading a consortium consisting of statistical analysis provider NFER and data collection agency Apolowil. As the final evaluation is being conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, after a thorough risk assessment a scenario for remote evaluation was agreed upon with the evaluation team and project leadership. As part of this scenario, specialised apps developed and piloted, allowing information to be collected from school leaders, teachers, trainee teachers, parents and community members while maintaining social distancing. Three apps are self-administered using smartphones, while a fourth is administered by research assistants to allow participants who are not literate or do not have access to smartphones to participate. Simone and colleagues use Skype and Zoom to conduct interviews, gathering qualitative data safely, while allowing for maximum participation from stakeholders. Where possible, existing data is being analysed to reduce the burden of collecting additional data in difficult circumstances.
Application of technology, adaptability, and partnerships formed through previous close teamwork and dedicated capacity building have allowed Simone to maintain oversight of the evaluation process by working closely with a local counterpart as the local evaluation lead and having a country-based team collect data remotely. This further builds capacity, while ensuring the safety of those involved at every level. Furthermore, the final evaluation has provided an opportunity to assess the project’s responses to the COVID-19 emergency, for example in providing teaching via radio and television when schools are closed and distributing take-home food rations while school feeding is suspended. Utilising good practices built up over years of experience, as well as novel approaches to data gathering, ensures that the final evaluation report will meet a high standard of rigour in assessing the Food for Education Project.