Community Social Worker Training

Image © EFICOR

Sustainable Development goals

About the project

EFICOR is a Christian aid, development and relief organisation that serves the poor, socially excluded and marginalised in India. Tearfund supports EFICOR’s Community Social Worker Training, equipping individuals with knowledge, skills and tools to use as change agents in communities. EFICOR has been training these community volunteers to identify needs and assets within poor communities and learn how to engage with Indian Government services.

Often people are unaware of government services such as pensions or village maternal and child health services and sometimes these services are not operating effectively for a range of reasons. Community volunteers are trained to know what services are available and they use this knowledge to assist people to connect with Government service providers.

An interview panel selects candidates for the training, looking at their commitment and desire to serve communities. The training program runs in 3 blocks of 2 weeks over a 12-month period with practical work being undertaken between the intensive training sessions. Over a year, the aim is to train 40 people who will seek to transform their local communities.

EFICOR’s Theory of Change for this project is: “If we provide training (knowledge and skills) on good development approaches in India to individuals who are currently in small NGOs or Churches, they will apply these skills in their community, which will result in people living in poverty in those communities having a “full life.”

Through applying the SROI framework, along with broader measurement principles, Tearfund sought to capture greater understanding of the work and measure the value created for communities. This methodology helps Tearfund quantify complex project results into succinct and meaningful communication for our supporters.

Headlines

The calculated SROI on the Social Worker Training project reflects a result of AUD $24 for every AUD $1 granted to this project. This calculation is a result of considering the value of the total cost of the program, AUD $73,000 against the value of the outputs: AUD $1,875,000.

Other findings include:

  • There were 74 individuals who finally received pensions to which they had been entitled for many years.
  • The trained individuals assisted community members across India to file 890 RTI applications. 80% of the applications were successful in accessing Government entitlements and schemes, seeing direct benefit in 132 villages. As a result of the RTI applications, there were 11 roads built and 21 hand pumps installed, directly benefiting 17,480 people.
  • There were 550 applications which successfully received support for housing and sanitation, impacting over 2,000 people in 40 villages.
  • In addition to the government schemes, the trainees initiated tree plantations in their local communities, planting 655 trees, and they encouraged communities to provide food and clothing to over 700 people in need, as well as starting Self-Help Groups.

The return of investment for Tearfund Australia was estimated by considering the cost to build various infrastructure (pumps, toilets etc) and the value of labour and material inputs provided by the trainees and the community.

The value of undertaking an SROI study for Tearfund Australia was significant. It encouraged Tearfund to broaden our thinking around measuring and communicating the value of our partner’s work to our supporters. While the SROI approach applies financial proxies to the most important outcomes as valued by the communities, it enables Tearfund to consider an interpretation of our project’s value for money; a perspective we haven’t explored previously.  It was particularly useful to help us justify continuing to fund this project because on traditional value for money assessments, with only 40 direct beneficiaries, the cost per beneficiary is quite high. The SROI method helped us assess the broader impact and value of the project.

"It is always a challenge to measure the impact of training. The training we provide is aimed at bringing transformation in the community - while many of the attitudinal changes cannot be quantified, many of the physical transformations - which also comes out of attitudinal changes – can be quantified. Our SW trainees, as change agents, facilitate many developmental activities in their communities but unless we were able to quantify it and demonstrate the change that a small amount of investment can make – it was difficult to get funds for training. We have often been encouraged to charge costs for training events that will make it sustainable but many of the trainees are from poor communities. Funding people to attend training programmes is very different from investing in people who bring huge change in the community. Doing the SROI has helped us convince supporters, leaders and our own teams that even small investments can bring massive change."
Kuki Rokhum
Lead - Training and Resource Mobilisation, EFICOR

Learnings and challenges

Learnings

Tearfund has learned that there is very encouraging work happening that we can seek to quantify and better communicate impact with supporters. We’ve recognised that this is an area that will be important to resource and grow our understanding into the future.

Challenges

There were challenges for Tearfund in working out how to calculate the social value of the project, as well as in deciding what to include in the calculations. The return on investment was estimated by considering the cost to build various infrastructure (pumps, toilets etc) and the value of labour and material inputs provided by the trainees and the community. We didn’t include in our calculation the estimation that for every AUD $1 invested in water and sanitation, there is an AUD $4.30 return in the form of reduced health care costs for individuals and society. If we had included this calculation rather than simply the output costs, the social return on investment figure increases to over AUD $30 for every AUD $1 invested in the project. However, in drawing on the principles of only including what is material and seeking to not overclaim, we decided not to include these elements in the final SROI figure.

Using the Results

Tearfund Australia had two staff members undertake the Accredited Social Return on Investment course with Social Ventures Australia to build capacity in this area.

In considering next steps for Tearfund Australia, we recognise the challenges we face in seeking to understand the value of the changes on people’s lives. Particularly as we did this SROI study remotely, through relying on project reports from our partner EFICOR, and weren’t able in this case to specify any further questions we may have wanted to ask project participants or directly meet with communities or community members to investigate further into changes that have occurred. This is something we would like to explore in the future, as we recognise that there are assumptions we are making about the value placed on different outcomes, which may not be valued or prioritised in the same way for the communities.

Methodology

The study followed the evaluative SROI methodology. The main features of the methodology are outlined below.

  • EFICOR interview their training participants to assess the effectiveness of their social worker training by listening to what they have been able to achieve in their communities.
  • The qualitative research by EFICOR included asking participants what outcomes were most significant for their lives and communities.
  • Trainees kept records of the activities they had undertaken and the results of those activities.
  • In a workshop at the end of the training, the trainees worked with EFICOR staff to list the various outputs or outcomes of their work. In the workshop a monetary value was assigned to each of the outcomes.
  • Secondary research was undertaken to explore the value created by planting a tree, as well as an estimation of the value of reduced health care costs for individuals and society because of investing in water and sanitation.
  • Secondary research allowed the study to calculate value beyond what is reflected in the costs of the products provided by the Indian government.

The monetary outcomes of this project were given a value through calculating the cost of the products provided by the Indian Government, for example, in considering the cost to build various infrastructure (pumps, toilets etc) and the value of labour and material inputs provided by the trainees and the community.

We also considered the value of broader impacts of the project, such as tree planting and the health benefits of sanitation investment, and sought to calculate them:

  • For example, while the cost of planting a tree in India is very small (likely under AUD $1), the benefits created by a single tree have been calculated at AUD $211[1] so we can estimate that the 655 trees planted in 2018-19 as a result of this project could produce AUD $138,205 in value.

 

[1] Proxy provided by: https://treenet.org/resources/the-economic-value-of-trees-in-urban-areas-estimating-the-benefits-of-adelaides-street-trees/ Accessed 25 September 2019.

Further information

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Contact details

Tearfund Australia acknowledges the support of the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

© EFICOR