3 Questions

Ewout van Galen

Ewout is Simavi’s Director of Programmes. He manages our WASH and SRHR teams and the consortia in which Simavi participates. Nobody knows the Theory of Change better than him, so what has he learned from implementing it in the nine countries Simavi is active in?


Why and how did Simavi develop a Theory of Change?

“Simavi believes that everyone has the right to healthy living conditions. It is our ambition to structurally improve the basic health of 10 million people in marginalised communities in Africa and Asia by 2020. To realise this, we developed a Theory of Change. During a participatory process that lasted almost a year, we identified all the causal steps that must be taken to establish structural change. We asked ourselves: Where do we stand now? What is our main goal? And how do we get there? This resulted in a shift from a geographic focus on Africa and Asia towards a thematic focus on WASH and SRHR. In addition, we organised interdisciplinary teams around these main themes, attracted new employees, and invested in new local partners in order to accomplish our Theory of Change.”


What is the strength of this Theory of Change?

“Our Theory of Change is an integrated approach that consists of three cohesive pillars. Its strength is that we work simultaneously on those three pillars. When, for example, a young girl lacks access to safe drinking water, constructing a water pump will not be a sufficient and sustainable intervention to fulfil her right to safe water. Therefore Simavi also invests in empowering communities, so that this girl and her family are fully aware of the issue, raise their voice to claim their rights, and can use the services. In addition, we create an enabling environment in which every stakeholder is aware of their roles and responsibilities, works together and can be held accountable to fulfil the girl’s right to safe water. To prove the sustainable results of our interventions, we have also developed a monitoring framework with specific indicators to measure our progress in this threefold approach.”


What challenges has Simavi faced in the implementation of the Theory of Change?

“One challenge we still face is integrated funding. Simavi works simultaneously on the Theory of Change’s three pillars, but we notice that some activities are more easily funded than others. For example, installing hardware is more often subsidised than lobby and advocacy activities. Although service delivery is important, I believe it is crucial to invest (among other things) in community empowerment, awareness raising, training on behavioural change, the maintenance and operation of services and advocacy and lobbying. Simavi assumes responsibility for ensuring these areas are covered as well. It’s encouraging to see new developments like the new strategic partnerships for policy influencing, lobby and advocacy that the Dutch Ministry for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation have introduced. This offers us the opportunity to work together with the Ministry to continue investing in strengthening our local partners in Africa and Asia.”

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