My interest & Skills areas

The following are some of my interests & skill areas; Program & Strategy development; Monitoring, Evaluation & Research; Training, Coaching & Mentoring; Participatory M&E Processes; Capacity development in (Log-frame, Most Significant Change Technology, Rights Based Programming; Rights Based Approaches to M&E); Participatory Planning Processes; use of Open Space Technology; Indicator development; documentation & development of Case studies

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The 2012 Marriage bill – window of opportunity for addressing child marriage


Marriage as an institution is the basic unit of the family and to a large extent shapes and defines how a child grows up and what they become in future. The family provides protection, nurturing and guarantees the basic rights of children. In effect, the importance of marriage in sustaining the human race cannot be underestimated. Marriage is an institution meant for adults and highly celebrated in all cultures around the world.

With this in mind, one would wonder why the State should take it upon itself to regulate and provide parameters within which this institution should be conducted. So when the Marriage Bill 2012 in Kenya was passed, I wondered what was in it for Child Rights organisations and why the sudden interest among the populace in the provision of the bill.

For most of us, we first heard about the bill through various media channels and what became the ‘hottest’ part of the bill was a provision on what is popularly known as ‘come-we-stay’ (a co-habiting arrangement between men and women). This generated a lot a debate among Kenyans of all walks of life.

Why the heated debate on the marriage Bill?

After my gym session on Saturday (10th November 2012), I decided to take a ‘matatu’ ride to town to have a sense of what people were talking about. I enjoyed the rides, both ways and it was interesting to hear what most people were talking about over the weekend – your guess is as good as mine (come-we-stay). Both men and women had very different views on this. The interesting bit of the discussion was that, none of those discussing the bill had actually seen or read it – their only source of information was the media – TV, radio and to a lesser extent, the newspapers. I was amazed at how powerful the media is in shaping the discourse of political and social discussions and opinions.

For those of you who read the Standard on Saturday (10th November edition), you might have seen on p7 that some leaders are up in arms to oppose the marriage bill on two provisions – ‘come-we-stay’ and the ‘bride price’ – they argued that the former provision will make men vulnerable (wondering why they think men will be vulnerable and never thought of the saying ‘what is good for the goose is good for the gander’). Their second worry was that making the payment of bride price optional is an affront to our culture. The worry I have is that this group is totally disregarding the interest of millions of girls and women and only looking at what a few men will lose.

What’s in the bill for girls, women and child rights organisations?

Child marriage and wife inheritance are two development challenges and human rights abuses that are prevalent in most African societies and Kenya is no exception. The adverse effect of the practice has attracted international attention. Former US President Bill Clinton's ‘Clinton Global Initiative’ announced in 2011 a partnership of organisations worldwide seeking to spotlight the dangers of marriage for girls under age 18 years. Among those introducing the project, titled 'Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage,' were Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu of South Africa and Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland.

In the developing world, one in every three girls is married before the age of 18, usually marking an end to their schooling and exposing them to higher risk of injury and death due to early sexual activity and childbirth,’ said the announcement. The practice is estimated to affect 10 million girls, and with it comes irreparable consequences. Some of the adverse effects of child marriage especially on girls include:

• High school dropout rate among girls
• High maternal mortality (especially during child birth) among minors
• Lack of opportunities for girls to grow as children once they are married
• Various forms of abuses against girls by their older husbands (including physical, emotional and psychological)
• Poor parental skills among the teenage mothers which in effect affects the development of their children
• The lack of skills and education results in a cycle of marginalisation and poverty

The above are just a few examples of the impact of child marriages on girls. The Kenyan marriage bill of 2012 becomes very relevant for child rights organisations and provides the platform and opportunity to continue their advocacy to end child marriages. The following provisions in the bill are relevant for the fight against child marriage:

1. Minimum age for marriage has been clearly defined and articulated in the bill

2. The bill does not recognise any marriage to a minor (U18) – all such marriages will be null and void. This provision is progressive in the sense that in some countries, the marriage law allows the older man/woman to marry the minor once they attain 18 years even if they were married when whilst they were a minor. The Kenyan bill does not recognise this

3. Any person who marries a minor shall be sentenced to a prison term of not more than 5 years (wish this was more harsh) and a fine of up to KSH1m or both

4. Any person who officiates and or witnesses child marriages will also be sentenced to a prison term or fined or both

5. Widow inheritance has been outlawed – one of the reasons for the widespread HIV infection in the 90s (especially in some Eastern and Southern African countries) was attributed to wife/widow inheritance

Some challenges

1. Birth registration is still low in communities where child marriages take place. The fact is, child marriage (U18) can only be contested in court if there is evidence that the girl/boy is a minor and the only evidence will be a birth certificate (which most children might not have)

2. The media is already far ahead in terms of information/misinformation on the provisions of the proposed bill – it is always better late than never – like minded organisations which are opposed to child marriage should partner with the Constitution Implementation Committee (CIC) to highlight the benefits of the bill for girls and women

3. The bill is silent on rehabilitation/counselling for children who will be saved from child marriages, can this be put on the agenda? Maybe yes

Everyone has a role to play in our personal capacities and as Child Rights Organisation/Government institutions and traditional/religious bodies to help address and eliminate child marriages. Change starts with you; help if you believe in (i) addressing marginalisation (both intended and unintended) and (ii) supporting children especially girls to live up to their full potential. We have the vehicle – the marriage bill and the people (YOU). Let us lobby the President to sign this bill into law and once that is done, we will have a duty to support the implementation

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Developing Case Studies from a Rights Perspective (1)

Some Practical Steps

The steps proposed below are not prescriptive however, it is important to ensure that the case study contains the elements suggested below. The elements have been drawn from some of the very good case studies

Brief background of the situation (person) before the intervention. You can also give a general background within the wider context (district/national). If you have statistics, you could quote. What are some of the development challenges? Analyse this within a ‘rights’ context (framework) for example; what rights are violated as a result of the situation? What are the gaps in the realisations of rights? What is the capacity of duty bearers in addressing these rights? Which gender/age group is the most affected?

What was the intervention and what rights was it intended to address? When was the intervention and what prompted it? What specific interventions were undertaken or what were the specific rights were they intended to address (re: children, communities etc). What was the scale of the intervention, what was the involvement (and contributions) by various actors/stakeholders? Was the intervention linked to an existing community, partner or government initiative?

What have been some of the noticeable changes (both negative and positive)? What are the perceived changes from the perspective of the right holders especially children? What are the unintended changes which have resulted from the intervention? Are the changes contributing to any national or international initiatives like the National Development Agenda/MDG? How are they contributing to the realisation of the Program/Project Objectives? The intention is not to draw linear cause-effect analysis; the purpose is to highlight how the intervention is contributing to address issues of right violations which were identified during the situation analysis

What conclusions can be drawn from the case studies? From whose perspective are these drawn? What are the key lessons? What’s the way forward and how are these findings going to be used? Are the findings localised or they show a particular trend across a broader geographic area? Are the findings supported by any general trend in the country/district? Do the findings support any trend in the country? Some of these findings may not be necessarily be reported in the case study but would be useful for program/project improvement

Please share your thoughts on this

Community M&E Systems

Is M&E a completely new skill that has to be taught communities or communities have traditionally had their own traditional means of monitoring and evaluating their endeavors? Do modern methodologies build on community knowledge and systems? Something to ponder over

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lessons Learnt – how should they look like? Sam Norgah, Feb, 2010


This document is based on contributions made by members of the African Evaluation Association (AfrEA) on the question, ‘how should lessons learnt look like?’

One of the key functions of evaluation is to generate a body of knowledge or experience relevant for improving future performances and enhancing quality. Often classified as ‘lessons learnt’ in an evaluation report, commissioners of evaluations refer to this section in a bid to draw on the key ‘lessons to be learned’ from the program/project through the evaluation
which has been carried out.

One of the challenges faced by commissioners of evaluations with regards to ‘lessons learnt’ is that evaluators often state the ‘obvious’ without reference to context and scalability. In fact, some of the lessons outlined in the evaluation reports are ‘common sense’ and ‘general knowledge’ which do not require an evaluation to unveil. Considering the amount and extent of resources committed to evaluations and the pressure on development practitioners to ensure accountability, demonstrate results of their intervention and scale up their interventions, emphasis on lessons drawn from programs has become very critical and in most cases, non-negotiable.

Extent of the problem

NGOs are not alone when it comes to concerns about the relevance of lessons drawn from evaluations. A study by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) in 2007 showed that nearly 50% of evaluations conducted between 1999 and 2006 did not meet their ‘quality criteria’(Lessons learned – a platform for sharing knowledge, Special study paper). This staggering figure reported by an organisation like UNEP raises concerns about the scale and trend of this issue and it is therefore imperative for both commissioners of evaluations and evaluation practitioners to take steps to strengthen lessons drawn from evaluations and ensure clarity around those lessons.

According to opinions from both commissioners and practitioners, one of the main reasons for this state of affairs is the lack of clarity around what should be captured under lessons learnt. In most cases, the ToR which guides the evaluation is not explicit on this. Notwithstanding this
argument though, in my personal opinion, I think the major responsibility lies with the evaluation consultant (as an expert) to be able to draw the line between ‘general knowledge and key lessons to be learned’ from the program/project. This in my opinion raises the question of capacity first and foremost among our practitioners and secondly among the
commissioners – a sentiment shared by many of the contributors on this issue.

Key criteria for identifying and capturing lessons:

Three sets of criteria emerged from the various contributions; I have stated them below. The key thing is that there is the need for clarity and agreement on what needs to be captured - this needs to be explicitly stated in the ToR.

1. According to UNEP, the quality criteria for assessing lessons learnt are:

(i) Concisely capture the context from which the lessons are derived

(ii)The lessons should be applicable in different contexts (generic) and should have a clear ‘application domain’ and identify target users.

(iii) The lessons should suggest a prescription and should guide action

2. There are five levels of lessons which can be drawn from any evaluation (Clarke and Rollo 2001); these are: (i) general Information, (ii) explicit knowledge, (iii) tacit knowledge, (iv) insight and (v) wisdom.

It however appears that for most evaluations what evaluators have
focused on is the first level – general information. This was confirmed by the UNEP study and contributions from other evaluation commissioners.
According to one commentator the levels that matter the most are the last two, provided they are supported by strong and rigorous evidence from the evaluation methods and findings. The essence of all evaluation processes is to draw relevant lessons - there is the need for a shift from gauging what has taken place in the past for its own sake and stating the obvious. The
challenge then is how to formulate lessons as research questions.

3. According to another contributor, two principles which have helped in articulating lessons are:

(i)Clarifying the intended use and intended users – at the time of agreeing and finalising the ToR and planned M&E processes, it is important to clarify the outcomes, learning points and the key audience

(ii) Develop a structured set of learning points and recommendations using appreciative inquiry. A staff of an international NGOs alluded to the challenge of clearly articulated lessons and suggested that presenting evaluation feedback through workshops with stakeholders is critical
forum which allows for reflection, documentation and dissemination.


Drawing relevant lessons from evaluations is a challenge faced by both commissioners of evaluation and practitioners alike. It was generally agreed that capacity is partly to be blamed for this state of affairs. This trend calls for standardisation of processes and a renewed call for
accreditation of the profession.

Overall, it’s been an interesting and insightful discussion – thanks to all who contributed to this topic and for sharing your experiences and lessons

Monday, February 8, 2010

Lessons Learnt

I've been struggling to understand what 'Consultants' mean by 'lessons learnt' whenever they conduct evaluations for us. To a large extent, what is captured as lessons are just obvious statements and observations; please see examples below.

Child-Centred Community Development (CCCD): Lessons Learned

1. Orchestrating the evolution of CCCD as a rights-based approach requires continuous support and consistent leadership and communication.
2. Most Plan-supported communities and partners have not been adequately engaged in a dialogue to understand the concepts and implications of Plan’s CCCD approach, making effective partnership a challenge.
3. A stronger and more regular engagement with partners’ and sub-contractors’ activities is needed to better ensure that project objectives and targets are met.
4. Identifying and engaging with grass-roots civil society organizations and groups demands a proper mapping of such organizations and groups, and going beyond working exclusively with established local leaders.
5. More effort needs to be made to establish Plan Uganda in national-level networks and relevant working groups for purposes of advocacy, and positioning Plan for influencing policies and recognition as a key actor in development.

As you can see, most of the statements above are very obvious. Can someone please help me understand what lessons learnt should capture? Your examples will be appreciated.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Template for the Utilisation of Evaluation findings

General Introduction

Optimum use evaluation findings is a real challenge for most Organisation; this challenge keeps coming up in most evaluation forums. To move a step towards improving the use of evaluation findings, I have put together, a brief template on how to encourage Organisations to use evaluation findings and also to hold themselves accountable for the use/non-use of the findings. This template though very simplistic has been tried in our Organisation and it seems to be working. This template can be used for forward planning or as a template for assessing how evaluation results have been used. Your comment on this tool will be appreciated, feel free to use/adapt this tool

Evaluation Utilisation Template

1. Introduction: The brief introduction should include information on the following (among others); the title of evaluation/study/research, the date on which the evaluation/study/research was conducted, name of consultant (if internal, indicate the name of the lead person) and the purpose for the evaluation (including the person who commissioned the evaluation)

2. How was (will) the result of the evaluation/study/research (be) used? It will be useful to indicate how the evaluation findings/results will be used or (was used). Some of the key uses might include; (a) Program improvement - what has changed or what is going to change as a result of the findings, (b) use for Advocacy - indicate which policy has been influenced or will be influenced, (c) for future program planning, (d) donor requirement (e) Publications (where have this been published/where will it be published). If the findings have not been used, please explain why?

3. How was the findings shared with other stakeholder? Since most Organisations work in partnerships, it will be useful to indicate in the report, which stakeholders were involved in sharing the results and what format was used

4. Any follow-up action required? The crust of the evaluation is the utilisation of the findings. Closely linked to section 2 above, is the question of follow-up. It will be useful to indicate all the follow-up actions and who will be involved. It will also be useful to indicate whether the findings will impact on other programs or interventions

5. Action planning: Very bold and specific statements on the way forward.

What are your thoughts? Cheers

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Creating a Learning Culture

Closely linked to the issues of utilisation of evaluation reports/findings is another pertinent challenge: how can we create a learning culture within our Organisations and among our clients? Evaluation findings are suppose to enhance and promote program quality and learning. However we often find organisations implementing similar projects or interventions even though evaluation findings point otherwise. I have seen NGOs embark on non-sustainable interventions over and over even though results from their own evaluations show that such interventions do not work. How can we as evaluators influence decisions based on our findings? Does our work end once we've submitted our reports or could we do more to support our clients to shape their program direction? Your thoughts and experiences.