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60 Seconds with…Ethel Sibanda

Our ‘60 Seconds with…’ blogs are designed to provide a quick run down of what our staff do here at Itad. Here is what Ethel Sibanda had to say…


What’s your job here at Itad?

I’m a Principal Consultant in the Social Protection and Livelihoods (SP&L) theme.

What does that involve?

My role is quite diverse. For example, I’m working on growing the SP&L theme which involves identifying and pursuing Business Development opportunities and aligning theme priorities to Itad’s strategic priorities. I also play the role of project manager on all the programmes under the SP &L portfolio. Under that I am responsible for managing the delivery of agreed work, financial performance and managing working relationships with clients and partners. Two of these, SCIP and ENLIB  have been closed successfully; and FGMC and Adaptive Social Protection Programme under  BRACED, are ongoing.  In practice, my role involves a mix of technical delivery in M&E and non-technical aspects such as team cohesion, project management, including client and contract management.

How did you get into the field?

Interesting question! I have done M&E throughout my working career across different fields. As an undergrad I did an attachment funded by UNFPA which involved national level data collection, entry and analysis. That experience provided an entry point for my first job in an international NGO as a Monitoring Officer for a Nutrition surveillance programme for under-fives. Thereafter, I moved to the UN Food Agriculture Organisation still working within M&E in a diversity of fields including Agriculture, Livelihoods, Vulnerability Assessments and Food Security. This led to opportunities with the AIDS Alliance on Sexual and Reproductive Health, Policy and Advocacy, Prevention, Treatment and Organisational Strategy evaluations. I have always had an inquiring mind and I guess that is why years later I am still in this field!

What do you enjoy most about your job?

A lot really! Itad is a highly stimulating environment. It is very rewarding bringing in my practical experience of many years in M&E while learning from what other experts in the field have to bring, in particular methodological rigor. Further, it is one thing working in an environment with varying levels of appreciation of the utility and value of M&E and a completely different and more inspiring experience working in an environment where M&E is the core business and there is collective understanding of its value and application to maximize results in development. Itad is that kind of a place!

What new innovations/methods have you noticed in your sector?

I don’t know whether to call them innovations – maybe not radical but more incremental innovations. The ‘Theory of Change’ (ToC) approach is not new, it has been around for decades, but the re-emergence of it and the increasing use of theory-based evaluations is something I find very useful. Adaptive Social Protection is another, it’s not really new in itself, but the approach is different in that it brings together Social Protection, Disaster Risk Reduction, and Climate Change in resilience building and risk reduction, so it’s more of a holistic approach. Like I said, it’s not radical innovation but just incremental changes in things that have been around and are now resurfacing, or are being done in a different way that adds more value.

Recent highlight/job wins?

We have only just submitted our first two bids as a theme since I joined Itad which we obviously hope to win! We have successfully closed two programmes, one on Nutrition in Bangladesh and another on Climate Change in Ethiopia.

Favourite place you have visited as part of your job?

I’ve only been to Senegal outside of the UK, which was interesting. We saw Adaptive Social Protection in its nascent stages. There is growing interest in Social Protection, in general within the Government and international development sector alike. We also witnessed growth in client interest in the Theory of Change (TOC) approach. When we went through the TOC workshop the client realised how useful the process was not just in setting a framework for evaluation, but how they could use the TOC as a planning and programming tool.  They felt like they owned and understood the process-which I found very satisfying!