Evaluating the Capacity of Civil Society Organizations to Improve the Health of OVC in Ethiopia

Project Description

Local Non Governmental Organizations (NGO) play a crucial role in serving the 5.5 million orphans in Ethiopia, of which 855,720 were orphaned due to HIV/AIDS (MoH, 2007). It is an article of faith among most donor organizations and technical assistance agencies, that building organizational capacity in civil society organizations is an essential precursor to achieving high technical performance, organizational sustainability, and delivering quality services to vulnerable children.  Yet, there is a dearth of knowledge on linkages between the capacity of an NGO and its ability to improve the health outcomes of beneficiary populations.

In the last three decades, many tools have been developed to conduct organizational assessments, and from this more than 20 target areas for intervention have been described.  Unfortunately, existing tools use largely subjective measures to assess the level of organizational development and capacity building needs.  This makes establishing a reliable baseline against which to measure improvements difficult.  It also means that the subjective indicators of improved capacity are difficult to link to practice. The result is that logic models are commonly used to predict success without validating the linkages between the identified challenge and the intervention to resolve the challenge.

The need for reliable measures of organizational development is particularly relevant in the context of capacity to produce health outcomes, and for measuring organizational sustainability.  Several gaps have been identified in the knowledge base:

  • Factors associated with institutional performance are generally measured subjectively and not objectively
  • Stages of organizational development are not consistently defined
  • Measurable associations between organizational capacity and the ability to produce health outcomes have not been clearly laid out
  • Rigorous evaluations of capacity building efforts have not been conducted

The study uses a mixed methods approach; 61 NGOs across 5 regions of Ethiopia will be enrolled in 2012 and followed annually until 2014. Organizational development will be measured using the Measuring Organizational Development and Effectiveness (MODE) Tool, an objective tool which uses multiple data sources to evaluate organizational development across 11 domains. The tool aims to eliminate user bias, use indicators that are specific and measurable thereby allowing organizational development scores to be compared over time. Organizational performance data and beneficiary outcomes will be gathered from routinely collected monitoring data of a USAID funded nation-wide OVC program implemented by the enrolled NGOs.

This design offers the first opportunity to link nation-wide performance and outcome data with a quantitative assessment of organizational capacity, and observe the changes over time. It also offers the chance to analyze the linkages to determine those elements of organizational capacity that predict organizational performance and the likelihood of producing effective outcomes. For both donors and organizations, it therefore enables a much higher chance of being able to predict social return on investment.

Project Details

Principal Investigator Malcolm Bryant
Boston University Co-Investigators N/A
Collaborators N/A
Country Ethiopia
Dates of Research 2012-2014
Donor/Funder Geneva Global