Systems approach in measuring project's outcomes : a case study of Decentralisation and Community Development Project (DCDCProject)
Development projects are increasingly becoming tools to support developing countries to overcome their systemic barriers to development. International and bilateral development agencies channel billions of dollars in such projects or programs every year in hope to boost local development, but until now after decades of efforts and social investments no concrete development in those countries status have been spotlighted as a consequence of these. Rwanda as a small land locked developing Country in the heart of Africa has been allocated amount of grants and supports for many years and have been benefiting from an overwhelming international attention after the genocide of 1994 and one can wonder if these development programmes and projects have been of significant usefulness to the recipients. In such a move, this dissertation aims at systematically evaluating project outcomes through assessment of beneficiaries’ expectations grasped through a case study namely the Decentralization and Community Development Project (DCD) in Rwanda. It is also intended to provide a clear idea of what the project has achieved so far and what beneficiaries’ expectations were not met. In order to achieve research objectives, a systematic research method have been followed. It is therefore, important to recall that evaluation approaches as supported by Khandker and al. (2009), have evolved significantly, making difficult for an evaluator to choose the model or approach which is particular for a specific context suggesting that there is no universal and unique evaluation approach. In this research they were no move from this statement. Actually it was found worthy the use of a mixture of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies to capture the real outcomes of the project. In fact using qualitative methods helped to understand the key players who would have influenced the project implementation and by using quantitative methods and recording the recipients’ aspirations and the effective outcomes from the project. We hypothetically assumed that DCDP did not provide enough outcomes as expected by recipients and in order to prove that, collected data from a random sample of 96 people out of a population of 256334 and 80 answers were collected back. Several unstructured interviews were conducted with project key players comprised of the project team, the local government, and the government officials in charge of the project as well as the World Bank Country Office. Excel were used to analyse collected data so as to allow a better analysis and interpretation of the data. As stated in the main argument, assumption were made that the project did not meet the stakeholder’s expectations but some salient findings of the study proved this to be wrong. In fact, more than 80% people in the project area recognised the project outcomes significance to their lives. Furthermore, the result shows that the project had an important impact on the community. For instance, the DCD project improved considerably the life conditions of the population of the district’s population; as an example, the recipients acknowledged at 100% that the DCD project increased both the employment and the revenue in the district of HUYE. This have a huge meaning, because it is ascertaining the hypothesis that DCD project participated in improving life conditions of the population, while giving a whole meaning to the project in the eyes of all the stakeholders. The main recommendation of the study was about the usefulness on involving the recipients (beneficiaries) in all the project process, including pre-identification so that the project may tackle the real problems of the beneficiaries.