A journey of impact and discovery

21st March 2017

by James, KHT Programmes Officer 

This February, our York-based team were lucky enough to witness our work in action for the first time. Travelling to the Northern Thailand province of Mae Hong Son, we embarked on an eye-opening journey into the villages and homes of the Karen where we had the chance to bring a whole new side to KHT projects and see that lives really are being changed. 

What we found at times was surprising, often exciting, and always moving. From the chilly northern climates of York in the United Kingdom, the remote mountains of Mae Hong Son can seem worlds away. It is only when turning on a village standpipe and feeling the cool water run over your hands in the blistering heat, observing irrigated fields flushed with green while those around it remain darkened and dry, and speaking with a mother who can now bathe her new-born child in clean water every day, that the reality of our work really hit home.

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Lush green fields irrigated with the water from KHT dams being used to cultivate cash crops in the otherwise dry february heat.

It was in these moments when we truly grasped: KHT projects are changing lives. The challenge is to prove this to those that cannot see it for themselves.

My role as Programmes Officer is to make sure that we collect the data and stories that will allow us to meaningfully demonstrate our impact to our supporters and donors, many of whom live much closer to home. This data will also allow us to ensure our projects are working as effectively as they can do. To achieve this, we have spent the past months continually reviewing our monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system to ensure that we are gathering the data needed to illustrate how our projects help the Karen people.

For our field visit in February, we chose to focus efforts on our food security programme. This meant speaking with Karen villagers about their farming practices, how many crops they were growing, how they made a living, and how secure their food supplies were. For our future irrigation projects, we will be comparing the answers given before and after project implementation to highlight any changes that we see. Our methodology and data will be presented to donors directly to ensure transparency and impartiality.

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Working with our local staff to improve data collection and impact reporting

This work was achieved thanks to the enthusiasm and skill of our local staff members, who devoted their time to ensuring that we could gather what we needed, when we needed it. Looking to the future, we want our M&E work to be continued and carried out by our Thai-based team to ensure that KHT remains community-led and prioritises the needs of the Karen people first.

At KHT, we understand the importance of demonstrating project impact in the fast-paced and ever-changing world of international development. That’s why we have made “effectively demonstrating our impact” a core priority in our 2016-2020 Strategic Review. Our visit to Thailand was an enjoyable and exciting chance to pilot some of these changes first-hand, and we look forward to keeping our supporters updated as we continue making improvements to our M&E system in the coming months.