Today, we’re excited to share a new resource from our evaluation team—An Evaluator’s Guide to COVID-19: Using Evaluative Thinking to Learn and Adapt Programs. This guide describes important ways evaluation can (and should) support learning and adaptation during three phases of the COVID-19 pandemic (acute, chronic, and longer term), drawing on programmatic examples and exploring a range of actions that can provide data that contributes to more effective adaptation over time.
Evaluation is an essential service during this pandemic because it helps programs pivot effectively based on real evidence and information. As our global programming pivot continues, EnCompass remains committed to helping clients and partners understand their work in the new context. Our aim is to support long-term adaptation in response to this crisis, offering guidance and support to understand how effective the strategic and programmatic changes have been in meeting the new and emerging needs of stakeholders and participants.
Actions for Three Phases of the Pandemic
An Evaluator’s Guide to COVID-19 describes three phases of action, each with different levels of intensity, and calls for different evaluative approaches to gather and analyze data about the programming pivots during each phase. It begins with actions for the acute phase. This early stage of the pandemic requires rapid programming shifts as teams make initial pivots—moving in-person activities to virtual settings, pausing or curtailing activities, or rethinking how to continue essential services. The need is for rapid shifts and equally rapid learning. In the chronic phase, responses to structural changes continue in the context of an ongoing situation, but there begin to be opportunities to assess how the initial pivots have affected a program and its participants and to begin considering how the program might look in a new, post-pandemic future. In the third phase, decision makers reflect on their strategic and/or programmatic shifts during the acute and chronic phases and deepen their attention to long-term planning and strategic redesign of their programs.
To support you in selecting effective approaches, the guide offers two hypothetical program examples and recommends methodologies that work best in each phase. The aim is to capture the right data to assess the effects of the pivot on strategies and programs, learn from the data, make course corrections, and adapt future activities.
Use This Guide!
An Evaluator’s Guide to COVID-19 is designed for use by program teams who have had to adapt their programs in response to the current pandemic. Funders, evaluators, and development practitioners in general will also benefit from the discussion of evaluative approaches. The recommendations are not sector specific, nor are they limited to ongoing programs or specific geographies.
How have your programming priorities and evaluative approaches shifted in the COVID-19 era? We hope you’ll make use of this guide and other resource, such as our brief on The Virtues of Virtual MEL, as you continue your programming pivots. Please share your questions, challenges, solutions, and stories of change in the comments below.