Islamic Relief speaks at UK Evaluation Society Conference

For Islamic Relief monitoring and evaluation is a vital aspect of our work which can dramatically improve – and often save – lives.

Hamayoon Sultan, Islamic Relief’s senior impact evaluation officer is speaking about the subject at the UK Evaluation Society Conference today.

Alongside André Clarke of Bond, the UK international development network, Hamayoon will discuss how NGOs can make better use of evaluations and share them more widely for greater impact.

He said: “One of the main objectives of carrying out evaluations is to learn how we can improve our development work, to make a tangible difference to people’s lives in some of the poorest countries in the world.”

Hamayoon played a major role in evaluating four of Islamic Relief’s development projects supported by the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID) in Bangladesh, Kenya, Pakistan and Niger.

Hamayoon is pictured, left, evaluating the programme in Pakistan

Hamayoon, sitting on the left, is pictured evaluating the programme in Pakistan

One element of a programme in Niger involved providing goats so that people could drink the milk to add more nutrition to their diets.

However during the interim evaluation it became apparent that community members weren’t drinking the milk.

After visiting the community, Hamayoon found out that people believed that goat’s milk caused skin rashes even though this wasn’t the case.

He recommended that Islamic Relief’s local staff needed to educate the community about this, which they did, and then people started to drink the milk.

Nutrition in the community greatly improved and the project received an A+ rating from DFID for overachieving.

In Pakistan, Hamayoon realised that the project team, by chance, had taken six months instead of three to mobilise communities for a disaster risk reduction programme and that this extension brought huge benefits.

One community, for example, had organised themselves into different committees representing each sector of society, including women, older people and people with disabilities.

Someone was in charge of monitoring the news and another person was in charge of monitoring the flood defences.

They became aware of potential floods five days before they happened and evacuated children,older people and vulnerable women to Karachi before the flood waters arrived.

Hamayoon explained: “In the floods of 2011 people had no preparation whatsoever but when the floods of 2015 came, they were prepared and could protect themselves and their families in good time.”

As a result, Hamayoon recommended that all such projects include six months for the community mobilisation period to maximise the potential impact.

Islamic Relief is acutely aware of how much difference monitoring and evaluation can make to people’s lives and is actively working on not only improving how we share this information internally with our colleagues across the world, but also externally with our development peers.

The UK Evaluation Society Conference is an ideal opportunity for this, with participants including academics and development practitioners from the UK, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, Switzerland and Sweden.

Find out more about our work in Niger here and in Pakistan here.