Practical Action (PA), which was earlier known as the Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG), has had a Technical Enquiry Service (TES) since 1966. In 2006, having supported the TES for over 30 years, DFID conducted an evaluation. The evaluation found it 'hard to imagine many other development projects that could provide such good value for money'. The evaluation, however, also concluded that there is much more potential in the service that can be unlocked with better learning and management. The evaluation recommended a strong learning component based on an improved monitoring and data collection system.
The PAN project (August 2007 to December 2008) was PA's managerial response to the evaluation and was designed as a learning-while-doing effort to give direction to the future of the TES (now renamed as Practical Answers). The project set out to undertake experiments with different technologies and follow-up mechanisms. It was agreed that resources would be diverted to learning about the functioning of knowledge exchanges, while relieving the technical enquiry service of the pressure to respond to high numbers of queries.
This document presents an evaluation of the Practical Answers (PAN) project, conducted during the first 2 months of 2009. It involved short visits to PAN projects in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Sudan and contact with projects in Kenya, Nepal and Peru. The evaluation was seen as a component of the learning process and, the objectives were to review the process of learning and the learning that emerged, and secondly to assess the outcomes and impact of the PAN project in the period August 2007 to December 2008. Following the background and introduction, details of the evaluation methodology are given. This is followed by the achievements of Practical Answers and an assessment of the performance of Practical Answers. Lessons learned and recommendations for the way forward are then presented.
Roy, R.N. An Evaluation for Practical Action of the Practical Answers Project 2007-8. (2009) 31 pp.