Measuring Progress

Written by Plant With Purpose on May 23, 2011 in General

Where in the world is Bob? Today’s blog post follows Bob Morikawa, Plant With Purpose’s Technical Director, to the Dominican Republic where he has just arrived to measure the progress of our programs there. Every three years or so, Plant With Purpose reevaluates our work by meeting with our local staff and farmers to find out what’s working and what needs to be adjusted.

Here is a snippet from Bob’s blog, “Where is Bob?”:

“This morning the staff here in the Dominican Republic and myself met to go over the plans for evaluation that we are doing this year. Every three years we try to answer the question, “Are we making a difference?” A tough one for sure, and a lot of work is required, but an important question to be asking ourselves as an organization. It is kind of easy to go on planting trees, and training farmers, and assume that what we are doing is all good.

However, once in a while, it is good to take a step back and try to get a view from a slightly different perspective. So much like a company might hire a marketing firm to help them understand how customers perceive or use their products, we go out and do household surveys and hold focus groups to discuss our work. We ask questions like, what are your sources of income? and how much of your farm is protected by trees? and what material is the floor of your house made of? This last question may seem a bit strange, but the fact of the matter is that if you ask people directly about their income, or their financial situation, you rarely get a reliable answer. Either because people don’t really track their finances themselves, or they are reluctant (understandably) to tell others. So the thinking is to ask some indirect questions, which can give you an idea of how someone is doing, like whether they have a dirt floor or not.”


Our Dominican Republic program is growing, and adding new communities in a new region. Bob will also be helping to start this project expansion, which will be looking at things from a watershed level for the first time. According to Bob, “working in reforestation and soil conservation, our work has always been influenced by watersheds, but to actually tackle an entire watershed in an organized way requires a bit more strategy. This trip is about collecting basic information so we can make informed decisions about what to do, and also so we will have something by which we can measure our progress in the future. We also will be consulting with communities and developing plans that make sense to them as well as to us.”

We will keep you posted on the latest developments with this project expansion!

Click here to see a map of all of the communities Plant With Purpose is working with in the Dominican Republic!

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