The framework was developed as part of the GCC, which was funded by the IKEA Foundation. The process of development began in 2018. Four partners were part of the GCC: One Acre Fund, Practical Action, SELCO Foundation, and Rainforest Alliance. Although the partners shared a similar focus (i.e., scaling access to clean energy), they used varying approaches to monitoring and evaluation because they were part of different portfolios within IKEA Foundation. The term “portfolios” here refers to the donor portfolios that span the IKEA Foundation’s sphere of work. World Resources Institute (WRI) proposed a standardized monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework that would be applicable across all four projects and would enable effective reporting and monitoring of progress toward the common overall goal. This guidebook describes the process that WRI followed to build a harmonized results framework.

Executive Summary:

This guidebook is meant to help the IKEA Foundation and its grantees and partners design an MEL framework and to guide course correction and improvement for existing and new projects. The framework within the guidebook aims to create methods for measuring change at different levels of results (impact, outcome, output, and input) (see Section 2). It also helps create operational systems within the M&E process to incorporate ways to collect and analyze data and derive learnings during implementation. Moreover, it will help design similar operational systems that are part of MEL frameworks which capture a wide range of evidence and incorporate processes of learning along the way. These operational systems can ensure data uniformity at the campaign level, which is important for measuring impact, especially in projects that attempt to assess social impacts across entire communities.

To construct a framework that would be truly collaborative, WRI engaged with each partner to learn about their project experience as well as their M&E plans. WRI understood the need to recognize that the developmental impacts of technological interventions are complex and nonlinear and integrate this recognition into the framework.

In building the framework, WRI and partner organizations realized that, for energy access projects, a technologically agnostic framework approach—one that is not biased for or against any particular technology tool—works best. This neutral approach helps track the changes resulting from a wide variety of different energy solutions and interventions that may be tailored to the needs of different end users.

WRI also wanted the framework to capture the context and impact of each project, not only for energy access, but also for linked developmental goals such as livelihoods, education, and health. That is why we used an EbA approach to develop and align framework indicators. This people-centered approach recognizes the direct "dependence of human well-being on ecosystems and the goods and services they provide (e.g., water and food supply, fuel and fibre provision, pest and disease regulation, water and nutrient cycling, climate regulation)."

WRI also incorporated components of the Energy Delivery Model, which focuses on the role played by activities, resources, and support related to energy services delivery in meeting end users’ needs. This model prompted the partners to broaden their M&E focus from “what are the results” to “how were the results achieved.” These two models complemented each other: EbA-approach-based evaluation helped contextualize key indicators, and the Energy Delivery Model helped formulate methods to build these indicators for the whole framework and design operational processes to know the “how.” Contextualizing within this guidebook means that even when data under each indicator are uniform, they might have different meanings for different partners depending on their type of intervention and region of operation.

Two of the sections in the guidebook have a subsection called “The Practitioner’s Kit,” which describes the process followed so that readers can incorporate ideas/approaches that are relevant to their work.

IKEA partners along with WRI identified a set of indicators called enablers, which were incorporated for two reasons within the framework: one, they helped understand the various ground-level realities of each partner, unified them under the enablers, and supported operational systems in analyzing campaign-level data sets; two, by clarifying contexts, they helped understand the assumptions within the theory of change (ToC) of the GCC and build better evaluations to facilitate measuring of change at the campaign level. WRI wanted to keep energy access in the forefront while creating the campaign-level framework with IKEA Foundation partners and developing a ToC for the GCC. The enablers identified under the GCC were reliability and affordability, technology suitability, market outreach, product and services, and a market-linked ecosystem. In any framework, an enabler may not be a necessary component, but for projects situated in various regions and contexts, it may support the interpretation of change and better impact data.

The partners came together to participate in mapping exercises based on their areas of work and the aims and goals of their projects. They discussed priority areas and each project’s individual results. Analyzing these mapping exercises helped identify the various benefits that energy access provided for communities. These benefits include impacts on the environment, including long-term impacts from the reduction of air pollution and other greenhouse gases; health, from improved access to health centers and services; education and learning; and economic effects, including energy spending, which can influence how much households and communities can save.

Further, the partners worked to develop common calculations for measuring indicators to ensure data validity across partners and locations. Some of the parameters by which indicators were measured are reduced CO2 emissions (environment), decrease in energy expenditure and increase in income or in financial services (economic), increase in study hours (education), and increase in hours of health services or number of patients served (health).

At the end of the process, WRI worked with partners to identify and address gaps in mapping the results to ensure that the final framework would produce a robust campaign-level summation of results for all. The processes included revising the ToC, testing the indicators, and addressing any additional data needs. Campaign-level results would include all the changes/results measured within the GCC.

For programmatic learnings, it was anticipated that a collaborative framework would help synthesize knowledge from several interventions and create a space to draw lessons from project-level indicators that would be useful for all partners. This would ensure a learning environment that facilitates cross-project learning for future work. Programmatic learnings include an analysis of all operational challenges and gaps, which helps chart out ways forward for the next phases of the project.

Operational barriers such as the ground realities of the COVID-19 pandemic and the varying locations and project priorities of the projects affected some of the project timelines.