New ESRI research, commissioned by Pobal, outlines the challenges of evaluating the impact of community development programmes.  The research specifically focuses on interventions with Local Community Groups (LCGs), as part of the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP).

SICAP, which Pobal administers on behalf of the Department of Rural and Community Development, aims to tackle poverty, social exclusion and long-term unemployment through partnerships between disadvantaged individuals, community organisations and public sector agencies. This report focuses on interventions with local community groups, with the overall goal to “support and promote the engagement of disadvantaged communities and individuals across the life cycle of the programme”.

The local community groups receiving supports from SICAP include men’s sheds, youth groups, drugs task force, traveller women’s groups, mental health groups, community garden networks, and active retirement groups.

The report looks at how best to record the work of SICAP with these community groups and proposes a way of assessing how they are progressing in relation to the range of goals they set for themselves.

This research highlights the main reasons why it is challenging to assess outcomes. They include the difficulty in isolating one particular policy outcome from many broad outcomes of national agency policies.

The research puts forward a number of approaches which could be utilised to ensure SICAP community development interventions are monitored most effectively, including employing the Logic Model Framework.

Pobal welcomes the findings and recommendations of the report. Pobal coordinates the SICAP Evaluation Programme on behalf of Department of Rural and Community Development and will use the learnings to inform the assessment of the work with local community groups under SICAP. We will also use these learnings to strengthen the design of the programme in respect of our work with community groups.

The full report can be downloaded from this link.

More information about the programme can be found on the SICAP page of our website.