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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Evaluating the Effectiveness and Sustainability of NGO Activities: A Case Study in Zambia

There is a growing need for Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to perform critical analyses of their own activities to support organisational learning and inform donors and public supporters (Adams, J, 2001). Improved evaluation practices can lead to better understanding of the effects of NGO activities, increased implementation of lessons and ultimately greater progress toward poverty reduction in developing communities. This study addresses the challenge of how evaluation methodologies can be developed to most effectively identify opportunities for improvement and implement recommendations.
The key barriers and success factors for program evaluation were identified and used to develop a generic evaluation framework. The framework was applied to evaluate a case study program in Zambia, for the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST). Data were collected through a field study as well as by review of secondary sources.
The evaluation found that CAWST’s WET Centre Program has produced a centre of excellence in water, sanitation and hygiene in Zambia, which is functioning in the community and progressing toward independence. Opportunities to improve were identified for each evaluation criteria, with high priority recommendations within the efficiency and sustainability criteria. These findings should be used by CAWST to improve the WET Centre in Zambia, the wider WET Centre program and to satisfy accountability requirements from the program’s primary donor, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
CAWST’s approach was compared with that of other organisations to investigate the major influences on NGOs in developing evaluation strategies. The influences of the program timeframe, development strategy, financial scale, location coverage and sources of funding were investigated. These factors should be considered by NGOs as well as funding bodies when developing the objectives and methodology for evaluation programs.


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.