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We are excited to have launched our innovation project, “Feasibility and Value of Using SenseMaker® to Improve Monitoring and Evaluation for Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Programs and Services”.

Our project, which is a joint collaboration between the International Rescue Committee Lebanon, United Nations Population Fund Lebanon, the ABAAD Resource Centre for Gender Equality and Queen’s University in Kingston Canada, was kicked off in October with an opening workshop in Beirut.

The two-day workshop was attended by approximately 35 individuals representing 10 different local and international organizations providing sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) programs and services in Lebanon.

Theory-of-change models often rely on theoretical assumptions that individuals benefit from receiving services but, in practice, there is little evidence to support these assumptions.

Figure 1. Inherent assumptions in theory-of-change models, which the current innovation project hopes to address.
Figure 1. Inherent assumptions in theory-of-change models, which the current innovation project hopes to address.

Furthermore, there is concern that while the monitoring of outputs for SGBV programming is generally adequate, the actual evaluation of programs is often lacking.

Figure 2. Dr. Parveen Parmar facilitating a discussion about M&E for SGBV programs. Photo by Susan Bartels.
Figure 2. Dr. Parveen Parmar facilitating a discussion about M&E for SGBV programs. Photo by Susan Bartels.

To help address these challenges in traditional M&E, our project will test the feasibility and explore the value of using SenseMaker® to compliment existing M&E strategies. SenseMaker® is a data collection tool, developed by Cognitive Edge, that is available as an app for smartphones and tablets as well as in a browser link. SenseMaker® is based on story telling and asks participants to share a story about a topic of interest, in this case about the SGBV program or service received.

The story, which can be positive or negative, is recorded anonymously and participants then interpret their own stories using a series of predefined questions that have been developed and tested by the team prior to implementation. SenseMaker® yields unique mixed methods data – a brief story about the experience, as well as quantitative data that is generated by the self-interpretation questions. Because the data is all captured electronically and uploaded to a secure server, it is available promptly for responsive decision-making.

Dr. Susan Bartels leading a discussion about triads as team members collaboratively drafted the M&E survey. Photo by Amanda Collier.
Dr. Susan Bartels leading a discussion about triads as team members collaboratively drafted the M&E survey. Photo by Amanda Collier.

A majority of the October workshop was spent co-creating the SenseMaker® survey. After translation, back translation and checking for accuracy, the survey is now ready to be piloted by a small number of organizations in early 2018. Following refinements in the instrument, a three-month data collection will be undertaken by all 10 participating organizations. M&E data from this phase will be examined to determine the degree to which it provides more nuanced insights into beneficiaries’ experiences accessing SGBV services and programming.

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