Sensitive to the situation in Palestine, I feel very lucky to have contributed to an innovative project aimed, through economic development, at improving the living conditions of vulnerable and marginalized groups residing in the West Bank. As the external consultant selected for the mid-term evaluation of the Sentier d’Abraham project, I was placed entirely in charge of designing and carrying out the evaluation process, as well as undertaking a light organizational audit of the implementing structure. The results of my evaluation have been largely praised and accepted by all stakeholders, thanks to the transparent and participatory methodologies I utilized. Additionally, actions were taken immediately by relevant parties following the evaluation in order to start implementing my recommendations.
Ensuring the validity and objectivity of the evaluation
Le Sentier d’Abraham is a multi-year project funded by the French National Development Agency (AFD), implemented since 2013 by a consortium of three organizations: AFRAT, Tetraktys (both based in France), and Masar Ibrahim Al Khalil (based in Bethlehem). It aims at supporting local communities – with a particular focus on women – through the development of the rural tourism industry along Abraham’s Path, a hiking trail crossing the occupied West Bank from north to south.
The second phase of the project, running until 2019, further develops activities on and around the Path, and tackles the issue of sustainability within the program’s economic model.
The requested external evaluation thus had to entail an assessment of the project, the local implementing organization, and an exploration of potential models for the future.
As in previous evaluations I carried out, I wanted to make sure that all stakeholders would recognize the relevance of the results, agree with the recommendations, and take the required actions to ensure the sustainability of the activities.
Read, discuss, observe, analyze, And keep one’s independence.
It takes quite a lot of energy, a number of wasted hours at checkpoints, and a high tolerance for caffeine – those who’ve been to the Middle East will understand why – to conduct such an evaluation in the West Bank.
In order to get a global outlook on the project, and triangulate the information, I used multiple data collection methods: desk review of the project documents, interviews, focus groups, and direct observation.
This evaluation got me to travel to the Old cities of Hebron and to the Mount of Temptation, to hike to the Dead Sea and through the desert, and spent the night in a Bedouin camp which has been demolished 52 times by the Israeli Defense Forces. In the end, I was lucky to interview 42 amazing persons who are implementing, benefiting from, or supporting the project, in Palestine and beyond. Among them were members of women cooperatives in remote villages, high officials from the Ministry of Tourism, first licensed hiking guides in Palestine, dutch tourists, french tour operators or officials who are promoting the project…
To ensure as much objectivity as possible, I hired an independent translator, arranged interviews and visits myself, and conducted my evaluative activities without the presence of any project staff.
- A workshop organized in Palestine and one in France to present and discuss the results of the evaluation.
- A full evaluation report, with 1) a detailed analysis of the relevance, efficience, effectiveness, impact and sustainability of the activities carried out until now within the project, 2) a presentation of the possible economical / organisational models for the future, 3) a presentation of more than 50 concrete recommendations on the tools, the operational aspects, the capacity building and governance of the local organisation, the sustainability of the project, and the future economical model
- A summary of the evaluation, translated into French, English, and Arabic and shared with the many project partners in both Palestine and France.
- A review of the internal organization of Masar Ibrahim Al Khalil following the evaluation.
For more information on the project, or if you fancy going on a link : https://masaribrahim.ps/
Scope of work:
1. Monitoring and Evaluation
Design of an evaluative methodology
Definition of evaluative questions
Creation of quantitative and qualitative data collection tools (questionnaires, guidelines for focus groups, checklists, etc.)
Logistical organization of the evaluation
Organization of workshops
Drafting and presentation of the evaluation results (written report and accompanying PowerPoint)
2. Capacity and Compliance
Interviews with Boards members and founders
SWOT analysis of the implementing organization