Evaluating pre-COVID 19 programmes in post COVID times: Why development paradigms matter

Recently I was asked whether I would evaluation a programme in multiple states of India which was framed in pre COVID 19 times.  The criteria suggested was the DAC criteria - relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact and others (includes gender equality, sustainability, innovation).

To me it seemed important to add another criterion- resilience.  How far had the programme strengthened resilience to such medical disasters and its consequences for migrants and informal sector?  To me this question was as important as asking how relevant was the programme/project to the situation at that time.

Further, while several programmes and projects have a theory of change, there is no reference to what is the development paradigm underpinning the theory of change.  For example, a development project could be within the neo liberal development paradigm of free markets and privatization or challenge the same, saying that they will work on an approach where local development (watersheds, right to land/commons) is given a priority, and migration is limited.  Thus theory of change could be that income increases through group based micro credit, productive loans and activities, access to private markets etc, or there could be income increase through most marginalised groups (women amongst them) claiming their right to land and commons, strengthening water resources, forming producer groups and engaging in fair trade.  Will the latter approach reduce migration in countries like India, and address caste, class and gender?    

A related issue, has the underpinning development paradigm promoted humanness needs assessment. Have development projects fostered a space, where people who test COVID positive are not discriminated against? Are migrants welcomed back, or kept away.  Are tenants of a particular community thrown out?  Are men sharing the work burden during lockdowns?  That is, have social norms become more egalitarian through the programme/project

With regard to methodologies, use of technology may be necessary if the evaluation is done during COVID 19 times. Mobile phones, Zoom calls, skype etc.




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