While monitoring is ongoing, evaluation needs to take place only from time to time during HIV/AIDS-related treatment work. Evaluating work involves looking at the results of monitoring, asking probing questions about the information that has been gathered, and assessing how treatment work has gone. It can help to answer the following questions:
• What has been achieved?
• What difference has the work made to the treatment of people living with HIV/AIDS?
• How do the achievements match the organization's goals?
• What has been the cost - in human and financial terms - for the organization, people living with HIV/AIDS and the community?
Some of the key reasons to evaluate the work are:
• to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the work;
• to help with future choices and decisions;
• to learn lessons that can be shared within the organization and with others; and
• to increase accountability to those who have an interest in the work.
The reasons for evaluating the work will depend on who has encouraged the evaluation. For example, a donor may have asked for it in order to decide whether to carry on funding, or people living with HIV/AIDS and the community may have asked for it to see if the project is meeting their needs. Each group will have different interests and requirements. It is important to be clear about the expectations of those requesting an evaluation before starting it.
The process of evaluation can involve many different people, including:
• staff and volunteers of the organization;
• people living with HIV/AIDS and other community members;
• other NGOs, CBOs and PLWHA groups; and
• donors and decision-makers.
Participatory methodologies, such as mapping and priority-ranking, are useful tools for evaluation because they help people to communicate more freely. Many of the tools included in Chapter 4 on page 95 of this handbook can be adapted for evaluation, alongside other methods such as reviewing records and holding focus group discussions.
It is also important to relate the evaluation of the treatment work to the assessment of the needs and resources of the group (see Chapter 4.2.C on page 104).
Evaluating people's experiences, the organization's activities and project management
Ways to evaluate people's experiences include:
• analysing facts and figures from monitoring activities;
• asking questions, holding interviews and having group discussions;
• using written questionnaires;
• analysing reports, case studies and people's stories about themselves; and
• observing activities and meetings.
Ways to evaluate an organization's activities include:
• reviewing written information, such as reports, accounts and records;
• analysing the areas covered, numbers of people served and treatments prescribed;
• using verbal or written questions in questionnaires, interviews and surveys; and
• observing activities and procedures.
Ways to evaluate the management of a project include:
• reviewing records, reports, budgets, minutes of meetings and previous evaluations;
• directing verbal or written questions to individuals;
• interviewing individuals or teams;
• observing the work and practices; and
• holding discussions with staff and other interested parties.
An evaluation of an HIV/AIDS-related treatment project should cover areas such as:
• the people involved in the project;
• treatment activities;
• management activities; and
• links with others.
Many evaluations focus on particular aspects of a project, but the following questions are common to most.
• Effectiveness. To what extent is your work in HIV/AIDS-related treatment achieving its objectives?
• Efficiency. What has been the cost of achieving your objectives, in terms of the people involved and the funding?
• Relevance. Is the work appropriate to the needs of the people you are trying to serve? Are there other problems that should take priority?
• Sustainability. How long can the work continue and how can the necessary money, people and other resources be found?
• Progress. Is the work achieving its original objectives, or have those objectives changed?
• Impact. What are the effects of the work on people living with HIV/AIDS, the community, the HIV/AIDS epidemic and your organization? Has your work been helpful or made little difference? What effects has it had on economic, social and cultural factors? Has the impact remained local or spread wider? How does this affect your plans for the future?