Working practices

How we carry out development projects

Over 700 well-trained Ethiopian employees work for us in the project areas. They are familiar with local conditions and speak the local language. That creates trust and promotes direct exchange with the inhabitants who are to benefit from our projects. We prefer to use our own employees because this is more effective, cheaper and more sustainable for us in the long term than calling in outside regional organizations.

Local needs as a baseline situation

In order to achieve as much as possible with limited means, Menschen für Menschen plans each project with the greatest of care. The starting point is always specific local needs, which are determined in exchange with the local population. With our integrated approach in project work, involvement of local people and long-term commitment we achieve a sustainable improvement in living conditions.

Long-term support

Evaluation

After handing over a project to the community and local administration we remain available for advice and support. Our employees pay regular visits to former project areas. We perform regular follow ups in the form of systematic monitoring and evaluation. This enables us to constantly improve our performance and ensure the long-term success of our projects.

Minimum standards for contract partners

A partnership calls for fairness. That also applies to the use of day labourers. Since 2014, all construction companies who build schools for us in Ethiopia are obliged by contract to pay a fair minimum wage to temporary workers, irrespective of sex. In addition, protective gear – such as helmets and gloves – must be provided for tasks involving special risks.

Management and quality assurance

In its project work Menschen für Menschen attaches the utmost importance to transparency and efficiency. For each implementation phase we specify the scope of the project, goals, measures and responsibilities. At the same time we regularly review our approaches and processes in the course of project management and optimise them accordingly.

To ensure that the donations yield the greatest possible benefits, the course of each project is systematically documented and the deployment of personnel and project funds is subject to ongoing checks. The project management is partly responsible for this, together with the monitoring supervisors in the regions, who plan all measures in detail and appoint specialists to oversee them. The responsibility also lies with the experts at our Coordination Office (PCO) in Addis Ababa. The latter submits an annual report containing a detailed summary of each project to the Foundation’s Executive Board.

Impact monitoring

Dr Jochen Currle from FAKT consultants in Stuttgart talking to our monitoring and evaluation supervisors.

In 2012 we installed a comprehensive impact monitoring system for project planning and implementation. A full-time monitoring and evaluation coordinator at the PCO in Addis Ababa was appointed for the purpose, together with seven monitoring and evaluation supervisors in the project regions.

Impact monitoring systematically reviews the effects of our activities. It allows conclusions to be drawn on the project work and enables ongoing adjustment and improvement of projects. The monitoring system itself is likewise subject to constant optimization.

“You must take the people on board.”

The Menschen für Menschen Foundation strives to sustainably improve the living conditions in its project regions. Is it achieving this goal? Dr Jochen Currle, rural development expert, pursued this question in 2015 in Merhabete.

Evaluation

Evaluations at the end of a project phase or the whole project serve to assess the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability of the measures implemented. For this purpose, resources and activities (input), results achieved (output), and the direct and indirect effects (outcome and impact) are analysed. The impact assessment considers changes in the life situation of the people and environment. The effects usually cannot be attributed exclusively to the efforts of a single organization, but also to changes in the environment and the activities of other third parties, such as the government or other organizations. The evaluations of Menschen für Menschen are carried out by external appraisers and are always an assessment of project work. The results are incorporated in the programme planning and thus serve the continuous development of the aid programmes.

Wie wir Entwicklungsprojekte umsetzen

Social worker Sabelework Nagash carefully records the concrete results of our activities.

Project flow

Each of our integrated development projects runs in six stages over a period of nine to 15 years.

Selection of a project area

Representatives of needy regions contact Menschen für Menschen with their request for aid. In a preliminary study we gain an impression of the situation on the ground and willingness of the population to participate in the measures. On this basis a decision is taken as to where the greatest needs and potential are.

Planning

Together with the local population, our experts prepare a needs assessment study and project plan. The head office in Addis Ababa checks and approves both. The Executive Board and Supervisory Board must then sanction the funding of the project, before an outline agreement with Ethiopian government bodies is signed.

Implementation

The project plan is implemented in various project phases. A three- or five-year agreement is concluded with the Ethiopian authorities for each phase. Each of these agreements specifies the goals, measures and responsibilities.

Evaluation

Besides ongoing monitoring by our employees, the Ethiopian authorities and we ourselves carry out interim evaluations. The results of the monitoring and interim evaluations form the basis for continuous improvement of our project work and are adopted in the project agreements.

Phase-out

Once the goals of an integrated development project have been achieved, we gradually withdraw from the region. Aid for self-development has been provided. The projects are handed over to the local population and administration, although our employees continue to be available for advice.

Final and ex-post evaluations

Upon completion of the project, the Ethiopian government and we ourselves evaluate how effective our work has been and the extent to which the results are sustainable. The evaluations are carried out by independent experts.