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Page history last edited by Alexandra Pittman 9 years, 7 months ago


Kaia Ambrise. “Learning the Way Forward: Adapting St2eep's Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Process through Outcome Mapping.”[1] 


The Secondary Teacher Training Environmental Education Program (St2eep) based in Zimbabwe began in January 2003 in partnership with the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, three Secondary Teacher Training Colleges and the Flemish Office for Development, Cooperation and Technical Assistance (VVOB). As a result of the limitations of their previous M&E strategy, St2eep decided to move to Outcome Mapping. The aim was to track the changes in behaviors and actions of boundary partners applied by the St2eep coordinators and teams. 


The move to Outcome Mapping required a shift and a critical analysis of the existing St2eep structures and an openness to change them. Outcome Mapping needed customization to the specific context and the St2eep situation. St2eep needed to define who the implementing team was, identify the partners that were boundary partners, and define the beneficiary groups. St2eep and VVOB embarked together – through four workshops in a period of seven months – on the different phases of the Outcome Mapping process: developing Intentional Designs and planning the Monitoring and Evaluation system.


In order to determine what precisely needed to be monitored St2eep stakeholders prioritized Key Result Areas, the Boundary Partners, Outcome Challenges, Progress Markers, Strategy Maps and Organizational Practices. These components were developed at the end of each year for the next financial year. In order to ensure that they learned from the assessment results, a four step learning cycle was established.  


1. Action

Implementation of project activities by St2eep, boundary partners, and VVOB.


2. Reflection (every four months) 

Reflections on monitoring progress from different groups, with a particular focus on individual versus collective changes.


3. Lessons learned

Reflections on main lessons learned after compiling reflections from different stakeholders.  


4. Planning with St2eep, VVOB and the BPs

Focus on integrating lessons learned and new ideas gathered from the monitoring processes in operational and national management team meetings. Individual and collective action steps are highlighted. 


There were also team learning days organized regularly and a peer-coaching day for the boundary partners and VVOB facilitators.  The peer-coaching group analyzed the organizational practices of St2eep and VVOB as well as elements of their partnership, normally not discussed in formal meetings. Learnings from the end of year evaluation process informed planning for the next year and provided the basis for the next cycle of progress, monitoring meetings, and team learning days.




  • The participatory learning and reflection groups encourage greater respect for diversity and honor multiple voices and feedback in organizational planning and reflection cycles. As such, reflection and learning from different stakeholders can be institutionalized. 
  • M&E activities are integrated into staff job descriptions, further institutionalizing the importance of assessment as well as strengthening channels for organizational learning and building staff capacity. 
  • The focus on program outcomes challenges traditional impact evaluations, which aim to make causal claims. A focus on outcomes is particularly beneficial with multiple stakeholders, as in the St2eep, as it offers a way to better assess various parties’ contributions to change.
  • Regular evaluation at the mid-term and the end of the year enhances the possibilities of feedback and adaptation for the purposes of program improvement.
  • The involvement of boundary partners in assessment cycles through focus groups further diversifies sources of information, introducing various and diverse perspectives on the program.


Weaknesses (or not designed for):


  • Outcome Mapping may not have a straightforward path to implementation, as in the case of St2eep. The assessment process requires careful methodological contemplation and adaptation as well as customization to the specific context.  
  • Outcome Mapping is time intensive. Buy-in from leadership and staff is needed to successfully implement all planning stages. 
  • The St2eep model did not analyze the political context and its influence on program implementation.
  • The approach lacks mechanisms for assessing different pathways of change, alternative explanations of change not accounted for, and unexpected consequences.


[1] This description was prepared by Karen Walker, AWID.




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