This chapter is written for individuals and organizations that work "on the ground" designing and implementing human rights programs of all kinds (e.g., teaching primary or secondary students, promoting community activism, helping women to know and defend their rights). This chapter is intended to assist people to understand human rights and take action to protect and promote their rights or the rights of others. This chapter assumes that, as a busy practitioner, evaluating your program is not a high priority. People who are busy "doing" usually don't want to spend a lot of time and money doing evaluations, especially if they aren't sure an evaluation will be useful to them. The last thing anyone wants to do is get involved in a complex evaluation that costs much and yields nothing.
This chapter provides some practical background and guidelines for practitioners who think they may at some time need or want to evaluate their programs. You may or may not do the evaluation yourself. You may contract it out to an evaluation specialist. Alternatively you may choose to bring in a consultant to help you design and carry out an evaluation that you and your colleagues, "the doers," will conduct yourselves. However, whatever method you choose, you need to know the basics: why and when to do an evaluation, what questions you want the evaluation to answer, how to get the product or result you want, and most importantly how to use the results to improve your work.
This chapter raises eight basic questions about evaluation:
1. How can designing and carrying out an evaluation benefit my organization and me?
2. When and under what circumstances should I be thinking of investing time and money to carry out an evaluation of my program?
3. How do I get started?
4. What are the most commonly asked evaluation questions that I should try to answer before getting started?
5. What tools are available for me to answer these questions?
6. How do I identify a good evaluator?
7. What are special challenges and opportunities for designing, implementing and using evaluations in human rights?
8. How do I make use of evaluation results to improve my program?
The chapter ends with three examples of situations in which you and your organization might want to undertake an evaluation.