Last night I had a great conversation with Jakob Lund, head of Play31, an NGO that sets up soccer matches with a local NGO in Sierra Leone. Essentially, Play31 sets up these games in such a way as to provide settings in which participants feel empowered to address reconciliation between communities there (go see the website for more). Jakob’s currently interested in evaluating his program, so he came to chat about approaches, measures, etc.
Jakob told me a great story, one that is, I think, typical of assessing aid programs in general, and may also have something to say about our ability to judge the sustainability of programs. On his last visit, he and his local colleagues went around talking to the different communities in which Play31 works about how people feel about their program, what they get out of it, what they don’t, and finally, what would happen if the funding for these games went away. To the local NGO representative, people in villages uniformly said that if funding for the games disappeared they would get together what resources they had and keep holding these matches; to Jakob,: “Oh no, without this program no games would be held.”
The demand characteristics of who asks the questions are strong.