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Performance measurement and project evaluation for African rural information services
journal contributionposted on 2005-11-01, 15:02 authored by R. Paul Sturges, Suzanna Wallis
In the last twenty years something that could be called a Rural Information Services movement has grown up in Africa. Since Amadi attacked existing library and information services as 'colonial brainwashing' and Mchombu called for a 'librarianship of poverty' in the early 1980s, there has been a steady, and increasing, trickle of books, articles and reports devoted to this topic. There has also been a number of conferences and workshops on the theme. Probably the most complete synthesis of this rural information services theme was published in 1998 with the second edition of Sturges and Neill's book, The quiet struggle. In this it is suggested that the movement is influential in most countries of East, Southern and West Africa. It is found in the Anglophone countries, and it also exists in particularly lively form in Francophone West Africa. Ideas and experience from the Francophone countries have been drawn together very effectively by Ndiaye in his Communication à la base. These two books show that the movement has produced speculative writing, much exhortation, some research, and some experimentation. The speculation has been fruitful, much of the exhortation fatuous, the research helpful and stimulating, but it is the experimentation that is now most important. Rural information services have actually been introduced into a large number of African countries. For instance, in Zimbabwe an NGO, the Rural Library and Resource Development Project (RLRDP), has approaching 100 centres in operation, and in Tanzania there is a national service with thousands of centres. The movement is now much more than a matter of words. Diana Rosenberg was therefore clearly quite right to ask in 1993 if such services were sustainable beyond an experimental phase. To respond to the question it is necessary to have some hard information about the performance of existing rural information services. This paper will look briefly at the mission of rural information centres, so as to establish the baseline for assessing them. It will then look at sources of ideas and experience in measuring the success of services, both from within and outside the library and information sector, before reviewing some examples of this kind of research that have already taken place. In conclusion some lessons will be drawn on performance measurement and project evaluation, and their place in the whole process of providing rural information services which are well matched to need.
- Information Science
CitationSTURGES, P. and WALLIS, S., 1999. Performance measurement and project evaluation for African rural information services. Information Development, 15, pp. 205-211.
NotesThis article appeared in the journal, Information Development [© Sage]. The definitive version: STURGES, P. and WALLIS, S., 1999. Performance measurement and project evaluation for African rural information services. Information Development, 15, pp. 205-211, is available at: http://www.sagepub.co.uk/journal.aspx?pid=105828.