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Journey to Better Advocacy Evaluation

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This blog was written by Felix Lekurchalan, an advocate passionate about gender and youth issues. Felix works as a Project Officer at Network Empowering Samburu Transformation (NEST)

I’m grateful that I am part of the Kenya Voice grantee network as it gave me an opportunity to apply and be sponsored for the Monitoring & Evaluation Advocacy Training that focused on Designing Theory of Change for Advocacy and Capacity Building Programmes. This 3-day training that took place in November 2019 was organised by Evidence Frontiers and the Advocacy Accelerator who are part of the Linking and Learning Facilitators for Kenya and Tanzania.

Being a Project Officer and a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Officer of a small Community Based Organisation i.e. Network Empowering Samburu Transformation (NEST) in Samburu County, it was challenging for me to multi-task the two roles. This is because NEST is still trying to grow as an organisation before it can hire a full time M&E Officer.

Besides boosting my knowledge on the Theory of Change concept which was new to me, the training helped me gain more insights on how to link Political Economic Analysis/Context analysis to Theory of Change design for advocacy programs. It was great learning more on effective monitoring and evaluation of advocacy and capacity building programmes.

My biggest takeaway was monitoring change in advocacy programs through pathways of change, specifically through backward mapping (from the change you want to see- to priorities-outcomes to outcome to advocacy problem, monitoring hidden assumptions, within theory of change). It was inspiring to learn more on the possibility of monitoring and recording small achievements in challenging advocacy work.

“The training was an inspiring learning experience for me and it really enriched my professional journey. I loved being there!” 

It gives strength and resilience to realise and accept the challenging road of advocacy programs and to realise that in advocacy there are “NO ROYAL ROADS”. The journey has ups and downs and all one needs is numbers and resilience. Advocacy interventions mostly fail when there are a lot of assumptions.

Moving forward, I can’t wait to tap and use assumptions in NEST programme implementation. The use of an advocacy log will help me record significant moments of change, program activity, evidence of the change that happened, and lessons learnt from the change. Eventually, I would like to create a Theory of Change for NEST programs so that the organisation can monitor change effectively. I would recommend that in future, the trainers continue to exhibit the same dedication in sharing knowledge. Furthermore, it would be great if: (a) the heavily packed training could spread across 5 days as opposed to 3 days. This will allow the participants to learn more and interrogate the process and (b) there is more time for experience sharing from the trainers, ToC experts and other advocates with regards to the use of ToC for programme implementation.

Nonetheless, the experience was full of knowledge and inspiration. I would not hesitate to attend the training a second time or recommend other M&E Officers, Programme Officers or any change agent I know. As they say, “When you know better, you do better. Knowledge is only better when put in practice”.