MFS II is the 2011-2015 grant framework of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Dutch NGOs, which is directed at achieving a sustainable reduction in poverty. For the external evaluation of the grants, eight country studies, including DR Congo, were defined and put out to tender though the Dutch Science Council (NWO-WOTRO). The focus of the country evaluation is on the Southern partners of the Dutch NGOs concerned and on pre-selected projects aimed at the achievement of the Millenium Development Goals and the Dutch policy themes fragile states and good governance. The evaluation comprises a baseline assessment between April and June 2012 and a follow-up assessment between April and July 2014. The evaluation will give a representative picture of changes in the project beneficiaries, a comparable control group, and the capacities of the Southern partner organizations. In addition, the evaluation will assess efforts to strengthen civil society. The research team will use a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods.
We propose to use rigorous evaluation techniques to assess the impact of (1)the selected projects on their beneficiary populations, (2) the Dutch MSF organization on the capacity of the selected southern partners and (3) the selected southern partner organizations on the civil society organizations they have collaborated with. We will focus on estimating causal effects where possible, and complement this with research that adequately addresses questions of attribution using qualitative techniques. We propose to use a variety of instruments, including surveys, secondary data sources, focus groups and artefactual field experiments.
To better understand why certain interventions work (or not), and assess the external validity, we propose to randomly assign beneficiaries into sub-treatments (informed by theory, designed to disentangle competing mechanisms).
The project team consists of members from the Development Economics and Disaster Studies Groups at Wageningen University, from the Institute of Development Policy and Management (IOB) of the University of Antwerp, as well as members from the Catholic University of Bukavu (South Kivu) and the Graben University in Butembo (North Kivu). The Development Economics Group is highly qualified when it comes to impact evaluations in Sub-Saharan Africa and has experience in conducting research in challenging post-conflict settings.
The Disaster Studies Group will coordinate the evaluation of capacity development and civil society. The evaluation of capacity development and civil society will align with the other country studies, yet ensure the appropriateness of the tools and indicators for the fragility of DRC, characterized by ingoing violence, a malfunctioning government, a situation of institutional multiplicity and a high concentration of relief-oriented aid.
The IOB staff at the University of Antwerp has conducted several research projects in the DRC. Their longstanding experience is solidified in the research group of The Political Economy of the Great Lakes Region, which has good contacts in both North and South Kivu, where it runs a joint Master program.
Several staff members (listed as researchers) will help design the study for the Eastern Congolese context, while students and recent graduates will act as consultants and facilitate the survey implementation and data collection.