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Challenges in identifying, tracking and reporting for impact, and how to tackle them – A report by The Haller Foundation

Guest Blog
January 6, 2021

Haller Foundation provides a model for economic development that is both sustainable and environmentally sound, putting into practice the principles of Dr Rene Haller, a UNEP Global 500 Laureate renowned for his work in transforming degraded industrial landscapes through environmental regeneration in Kenya. 

Our purpose is to unleash the power of people and nature to create thriving communities and ecosystems. We define success as creating communities where economy and ecology are in balance, eco-systems are restored, and families can make a living from free natural resources without damaging the environment. We do this through the Haller Journey – a tried and tested methodology that equips smallholder farmers with water security, resources and the knowledge to build sustainable livelihoods and lift themselves out of poverty. 

The impact of the Haller Journey is assessed quantitatively and qualitatively from the outset of a project, against initial baseline surveys. Success for Haller occurs when any community- which was previously without access to water, sanitation, the mechanisms for food production or cohesive community management infrastructure- becomes fully functioning, with viable livelihoods, improved health and flourishing ecosystems and environment. So far we have had 54 communities embark on the 4 year Journey, 46 of these have reached the point of self-sufficiency.

To assess our impact, we have a number of mechanisms in place. These range from the informal, using photos and anecdotal messaging on WhatsApp and internal comms, to the more formal monthly reports and meetings between the UK and Kenyan management teams where community specifics are discussed. 

The Haller Journey is complemented by our Haller Farmers app, which has been designed to share affordable, organic and environmentally friendly farming techniques with smallholder farmers living across rural Africa and out of reach from agricultural extension workers. In order to track the impact of the Haller Farmers App, we closely monitor the analytics on the Google Console. Monthly statistics and reports are created that record the number of downloads in each country, number of active users, user acquisition and user loss. Whilst the Google Console is a very useful instrument to measure our success, it provides little information about the end user, why they are using the app and their journey in using it. We believe that this information would enable us to further tailor the app and create new content that is directly in line with the end-users’ needs. 

To understand our impact beyond numbers and statistics, we have developed an App Ambassador Scheme. This allows us to receive user feedback as well as spread awareness of the app and increase its reach across Kenya. The need for this scheme was brought to light by an impact evaluation which revealed that promoting downloads through word-of-mouth is crucial in expanding user growth across Kenya’s rural farming communities. 

However, when working with teams in remote locations there are a number of challenges which any project team will face. These include the positive bias of beneficiaries of a project to tell you what you want to hear, and their desire to please. They are therefore reluctant to tell you an approach or model isn’t working. In the communities that we work with, at least 30% of the beneficiaries have no formal education and therefore lack the skills to be able to accurately reflect improvements in farming output and consequently to livelihoods. Goods and services are often bartered, which makes quantifying outputs more difficult to capture. Lastly, the lack of mobile connectivity means that data isn’t captured in real time. Instead, statistics are recorded in a notebook and transcribed later, which can lead to a margin of error.

Guest blog by our partner, The Haller Foundation. Click here to know more about their amazing work. 

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