Continued …

The reason we weren’t comfortable doing that is that our definition, in the end and through that process, did not make any sense. Extreme poverty, according to that old system, meant a specific number of health centers, a community-wide maternal mortality rate, a community-wide under-five mortality rate, a specific average maize yield, a percentage of farmers who intercrop, and, well, a whole bunch of other specific numbers. We realized, in looking at these numbers, that we were trying to paint a representative and accurate picture of extreme poverty and the end of it with a list of numbers. The list of numbers didn’t serve that purpose well. It was just a list of numbers. Further, we didn’t feel we had either the expertise or the right to define the ideal end-state of our expat-conducted interventions for the community based on what were essentially our program managers’ impressions of an ideal state.

So, as I’ve written about many times here, we took a giant step sideways (not at all backwards, just sideways; out of the box, in other words), and we overhauled our M&E system throughout 2010. As I’ve mentioned, we came across the MPAT and decided that it would be a great tool for us to use to evaluate the experience of extreme poverty for our community-members, and as I’ve also mentioned, we decided to pursue the development of good program metrics for each of our programs to test the successes or failures of our interventions.

All that stuff is exciting and going well, but it still leaves the question of Exit Criteria wide open. How should an ideal end-state of the expat-based presence of Nuru look in Kuria?

On the call last week, we bounced around a few different options for determining the end of expat involvement.

One option that we are considering is having our program experts define what they believe to be an ideal end-state for the community based on the MPAT’s survey and the ten component scores that come out of it. The problem with this way of establishing exit criteria is that it still means that non-native community members, or non-Kurians/non-Kenyans, are deciding what the ideal state of the community is. Its worth noting that they would be doing so with an infinitely superior tool to the one we put to use during 2009, and also they would be doing so according to not just a list of numbers, but a list of in-depth and meaningful survey responses about the truth of the community-members’ ways of life (according to the MPAT, their well-being and the enabling environment in the community).

Another option is very similar to the first option, but instead of having the expat program managers or program experts establishing the ideal state of the community based on the MPAT survey and responses to it, community members themselves would take the survey and respond to the survey questions according to what they think is an appropriate status for the Nuru expat team to leave the community. This could work out very well, and would be a means for us to further evolve our model as one that incorporates community input.

A third way to establish exit criteria is by using expert opinions and extensive research to determine an ideal level for each of the program metrics that we are working on establishing this year. These will be numbers similar to the ones we used in 2009. Many of the same problems that we had then remain with this exit criteria method, but the in-depth research and background information could make a big difference.

Finally, there is a bit of a wild card that I think might be our answer! Here is to hoping! You can read a little blurb here about our Servant Leadership Program. There is much more to come as a new team in this program area has just formed on the ground, the point of the program, is a means to ensure that community leaders are being identified, trained, and tracked to keep Nuru self-sustaining for the long haul. We have yet to develop an M&E system for this program, but we are working on it. Once we have one, THIS might be the system within which we want to establish exit criteria! This might be the way to measure the time that the expat team should leave: when the community is fully empowered to sustain the impact of the interventions we have conducted.

More to come on this, for sure.