With a final Efficiency Lab conference held and four completed efficiency pilots, the Efficiency Lab ends its work with a collection of all the lessons learned. For two years the Lab dived into the question of how to analyse the efficiency of development interventions. Can the same be achieved with less resources? Or can more be achieved with the same resources? In other words, are the costs of an intervention proportionate to the outcomes and impact of that intervention? With this final work of the Efficiency Lab, you are enlightened with answers to these questions, the identified challenges, recommendations to these challenges and methods that can be used to analyse the efficiency of development interventions.
Establishment of the Efficiency Lab
The Efficiency Lab is an initiative of several member organisations of Partos implemented in the framework of The Spindle. It was established in April 2017, in response to the finding from the MFS II evaluation that development organisations, evaluators and practitioners struggle with the concept of efficiency. Often it seems that in development projects the efficiency question is not addressed adequately. The report noted that the evaluated projects had either not collected relevant data on this topic, and/or rarely analysed the efficiency of their interventions. In their recommendations, the evaluators challenged NGOs and other actors to take steps to address this gap by paying more attention to efficiency in their interventions.
3 x the Efficiency Lab Conference
The nine members of Partos that participated in the Efficiency Lab decided to take on the efficiency challenge. The lab was supported by a panel of experts, namely: Markus Palenberg (The Institute for Development Strategy in Munich, Germany), Pol de Greve (Context, international cooperation) and Antonie de Kemp (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, IOB). Together they convened three conferences:
- 1st Efficiency Lab Conference, November 2017
The panel of experts presented their views on why the efficiency question is rarely addressed in a satisfying way, and what can be done to overcome this problem. They presented recommendations on how to assess efficiency for a sample of ten projects representing common development interventions.
- 2nd Efficiency Lab Conference, June 2018
Markus Palenberg and Pol de Greve presented a set of methods and tools that can be used to analyse the efficiency of development interventions. After the conference, four Partos members (Woord en Daad, Aflatoun, Simavi and War Child) conducted pilot studies, applying a selection of these methods to their own practice. Their staff were also trained in the application of these methods.
- 3rd Efficiency Lab Conference, May 2019
This final conference discussed the findings of the pilot studies and took stock of lessons learned by The Lab. Drawing on these lessons, participants explored some implications for upcoming evaluations of ongoing Dutch government-funded programmes in the framework of “Dialogue and Dissent,”4 the successor to MFSII (these programmes are currently subject to a mid-term review and efficiency is one of the aspects looked into).
A guide to analysing the efficiency of development interventions
With this final work of the Efficiency Lab, you are enlightened with a guide that contains an overview of the main findings and lessons learned over the course of this project. What are the main challenges that practitioners encounter when trying to incorporate an efficiency perspective? What are the identified recommendations to address these challenges? And what are methods that can be used to analyse the efficiency of development interventions? You’ll find the answers to these questions in our newest publication! Hopefully, it helps you and your organisation to improve the performance in analysing efficiency.