|By Henry Mwololo
Development projects continue to play a fundamental role in the livelihoods of rural populations in developing countries. Being largely donor funded, such projects are in most cases social investments aiming to unlock the potential of rural populations. By and large, social investors do not require financial profits to accrue to the investor but rather social benefits to accrue to the target population. Several indicators have been used
|to measure social benefits including; increased income, increased trade, reduced incidences of disease and reduced cost of doing business. At best, these indicators stop at measuring project outputs and outcomes. The concept of project impact especially at household level remains blurred with many project teams struggling to articulate the impact of the projects they manage.
Literature on project management defines impact as an intended and expected change from a development project as a result of disrupted status quo. In line with this definition, it is worth noting that project outputs and outcomes like increased income among the rural poor are just but a means to an end which would be described as ‘human aspirations’. Humanity aspires for basic needs including; adequate
||and quality food, clothing, shelter, health and education. It would then be in order to conclude that, any project that does not clearly outline how its indicators at output and outcome levels (e.g. higher income from farming) link with at least one of the human aspirations (e.g. access to improved shelter) should not include an impact component in its logical framework simply because it has none. Articulating, evaluating for and reporting project impact is the bone of contention in the current world of development. As the donor community demands for precise project results (outputs, outcomes and impact) from their investments, the importance of project M&E has increased but without a commensurate improvement in the way M&E teams capture, measure and report project impact.