What is an Impact Assessment?
“Positive and negative, primary and secondary long-term effects produced by a development intervention, directly or indirectly, intended or unintended”
At Project Everest, our work in country is entirely community-based, thus inevitably there will be an impact. Measuring our impact is to ensure it is positive, and geared towards our vision, mission, and values.
‘This is not data collection for data collection’s sake. Every number is a person, every case study represents someone’s life. This is knowledge that has a direct impact on community well-being, people’s happiness, health and welfare for this generation and those that follow.’
Our projects are socially beneficial products [or services] that contribute to completing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. There are positive impacts that can be measured throughout the life of a project, students collect that information in handover documents, memories, testimonials, videos, and photos. However, the intent of the Impact Assessment as introduced in 2016 is to identify potential harmful impacts on the community. If you identify and acknowledge a negative impact, it can be mitigated, which would both ensure maximum social benefit.
Example: the introduction of a subscription for communities [water infrastructure project in Timor-Leste] to have the frequency of their water infrastructure repaired would leave the current member who is responsible for the village fund that manages those fixes obsolete [Group Maintenance Fund]. Involving that member in the solution would allow for the success of the business to go ahead without removing people from employment.
You could discover impact by using the tool ‘theory of change’, mapping out the entire user journey – you can follow alternate pathways where your product or service will ‘touch’ users and what that interaction may look like, doing so will release potential outcomes.
- How will you measure your [positive and negative] impact in country?
- What social, economic, environmental or other influences are you measuring and how?
- What are teams implementing to mitigate negative impact?
An Impact Assessment is a feature of each week on project, and a consideration of each major action within a project. It’s a moving concept that you use as a consideration at every stage, in the same way, you would use design thinking activities to broaden your understanding and develop new pathways, you would use an Impact Assessment to ensure the direction you have chosen does more ‘good’ than ‘harm’.
Through proper completion of the Impact Assessment, the teams will be able to mitigate any negative impacts and ensure that maximum positive impact is achieved. This needs to be a gradual process, with each team expanding and iterating on the previous month’s work.