Using SenseMaker to evaluate Sustainable Livelihoods programmes in Jordan

Published by Tony Quinlan on

It’s been long overdue, but I was reminded the other day that in November 2017, I presented at the annual conference for the American Evaluation Association in Washington DC on our use of SenseMaker for UNDP Jordan. [For sensitivity reasons (the project was not yet complete at that point) I couldn’t post his slides from the presentation.]  Here are the slides along with a brief summary of the project:

Slides from Narrate presentation at AEA on using SenseMaker with UNDP Jordan

UNDP Jordan’s Sustainable Livelihood programmes

UNDP Jordan ran various programmes in northern governorates (Irbid, Mafraq and Zarqa) to help both unemployed Jordanians and Syrian refugees to build sustainable livelihoods. These programmes included phases  that led from community volunteering through job applications to some micro-business startups. Local groups met regularly and were supported by local implementing partners and, ultimately, by each other.

Narrate was engaged to explore the underlying attitudinal effects of the projects – both for participants and for the communities in which they lived.

A summary of the UNDP Jordan SenseMaker study

A summary of the UNDP Jordan SenseMaker study

Through careful design of the framework and collection procedure, we were able to explore the differences between participants’ attitudes at the beginning of the programme and their attitudes some time after finishing. Clear shifts were visible in certain dimensions (attitudes to different forms of capital, willingness to invite different perspectives), while others remained largely the same – the lack of shift in some attitudes is to be expected in such a strong culture.

Making sense of the data, developing insights and co-creating recommendations

At the end of the programme – after this presentation took place – we returned to Amman and ran an interactive workshop to explore the results, develop key insights and co-create interventions for future programmes. The workshop included local implementing partners and experts, a range of UN agencies, representatives from key ministries and, crucially, a table each of unemployed Jordanians and Syrian refugees.

The two-day workshop was enlightening – highlighting misperceptions by experts but allowing their expertise to be interwoven with the life experiences and detail of the population we wanted to help. More importantly, inviting people whose voices UNDP needed to hear back into the room to explore the data was crucial in shifting UN and government perspectives about how best to address the problem.

Building from there, we used the Cynefin framework and, working with all parties, developed a number of co-created activities and recommendations for UNDP to integrate into its future Sustainable Livelihoods programmes.

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