Measuring ‘Real’ Impact
Measuring ‘Real’ Impact was the second workshop commissioned by the GO Science Foresight ‘Improving Future Disaster Anticipation and Resilience project', in collaboration with the Humanitarian Futures Programme of Kings College, London and a number of other partners. It was held on Monday 25th June at the Wellcome Trust and kindly hosted by UKCDS.
Organised by ELRHA’s Research Partnerships Manager, Frances Hill, and facilitated by Sean Lowrie of CBHA; the workshop had the monumental task of investigating ‘impact’ across different sectors (humanitarian, academic, policy, brokers and donors) and to produce recommendations for GO Science.
With impact as the focus, participants discussed the meaning of impact across the sectors, and different methods and frameworks that aim at measuring impact (such as the Theory of Change, Outcome Mapping, Action Research and the academic impact criterion for the 2014 Research Excellence Framework).
It was evident that impact is a key word on many people’s agenda and, although there is much crossover, there is confusion as to what impact means to whom, how impact findings could be used and how this could in turn affect humanitarian action; questions that were being constantly referred to as the discussion developed.
After lunch participants took part in a “Fish Bowl” exercise, which looked at how each individual sector could help measure and increase impact, and possible negatives that could result from having to present impact as findings and the resultant knock on effect this could have on the quality, types of programming and implications for donor relationships.
After much discussion, three presentations were given, each very different but each offering solutions being developed or already in place. For me, the highlight of the day was the presentation by S.H.M. Fakhruddin of RIMES (Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia), who discussed early warning systems in place for flooding in Bangladesh which can produce flood warnings as early as ten days prior to the event, allowing communities to prepare. The project was driven by the needs and requests of the people who lived in these areas and who deal with flooding every year. This echoed the sentiment of most that, although we were looking at impact from many different perspectives, there was one perspective in particular that was missing - the people for whom the actions of the various sectors in the room aim to serve.
Fuelled by the presentations and discussions it was time to produce some recommendations to GO Science on the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead in regards to impact.
For someone new to the sector, and the topic, the day was a great learning experience and it was significant that, with the number of people and the scope of the expertise present, the common goal for all was the same - to deliver at a high quality with lasting positive effect. This is obviously a challenging area, but it is evident that there is much enthusiasm and drive to strive for positive change.
A report of the findings of “Measuring ‘Real’ Impact”, and on the previous workshop in this series “Tolerating the Right Kinds of Uncertainty”, will be made available to the public later this month. Resources from both workshops can be found here.
Sioned Warrell - ELRHA Trainee