‘Theory of Change’ (ToC) has emerged as an important planning tool for development projects in the last decade. With its application not limited to technical use, it provides users guidance to analyze and develop political and management choices. Experts recommend ToC as a tool for political literacy that supports organizations with adopting a reflexive approach towards development.
The ToC facilitates organizations with effective project implementation and with mapping its change processes and its expected outcomes. It is often used in conjunction with the log frame approach as it forecasts expected processes and outcomes that can be reviewed over the time. This allows organizations to assess their contributions to change and accordingly revisit the theory of change. It also helps staff in clarifying and developing the theory as per the needs of the organization or its projects.
Community World Service Asia organized a four-day residential training on ‘Building blocks of Theory of Change’ which was participated by twenty-one humanitarian and development practitioners from eight national organizations. The training was led by Harris Khalique, who is a leading practitioner, advisor, speaker and trainer in the area of social development and human rights. He is the Secretary General of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and a senior fellow with Revets Learning Inc. The training was co-facilitated by Zeeshan Novel, who is also a development professional and rights campaigner with specific expertise in project management, capacity building, emergency response planning, policy research and advocacy.
Held in Murree, the training adopted an interactive methodology, based on practical exercises to achieve effective learning. The initial sessions focused on the basic concepts of ToC, why organizations need it and introducing its essential components. Participants understood the concepts of Result Chain Logic, Developing Impact, Output and Impact Statements and Situation Analysis, its causes and effects.
In a group activity, participants were sensitized about cause and effect through the problem tree exercise where they were asked to identify the problem statement and its results through the result chain concept. Through this exercise, participants learnt to identify the impact of the problems and how to overcome them. The ToC as a strategic planning tool was put forward where its implementation mechanism and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems were studied in detail.