Author: Peter Woodrow and Nick Oatley
Year: 2013
Agency: DFID
Full Citation: Woodrow, P., & Oatley, N. (2013). Practical approaches to theories of change in conflict, security and justice programmes (Part 1: what they are, different types, how to develop and use them). Collaborative Learning Project. London, UK: DFID
Associated Resource Tool(s):
Overview: This document provides guidelines for DFID staff to design and implement their programs effectively using a theory of change approach. According to the guide, a theory of change reflects, “why we think certain actions will produce desired change in a given context”. The TOC may be presented in the following form: “We believe that if we do X, Y, and Z, it will lead to W” adding ‘because’ to express the rational of a TOC. Thus, the formula becomes, “If we do X…., then Y…, Because Z…”. This concept is elaborated and illustrated with examples from the contexts of Kosovo, South Sudan and Burundi. A step-by-step process for developing a TOC statement is provided, and this process is compared to the logic (logframe) model. To use theory of change as a tool, in the context of fragile states or conflict situation in particular, the guide encourages a reality check on the following:
  1. “System push back” or resistance to the proposed changes
  2. “Other efforts running in parallel or running in support of initiatives at different levels”
  3. “Do no harm/conflict sensitivity” because “flaws in the TOC can endanger people.”
In conclusion, the guide maintains that a good TOC is:
  1. Change-oriented
  2. Clear and complete
  3. Plausible
  4. Testable
  5. Embedded in context
  6. Agreed upon by relevant stakeholders
  7. Dynamic, and can be amended/updated whenever necessary.

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