|Evaluations also provide enormous opportunities to help decide whether interventions need to be sustained. There is often an implicit claim that evaluations help make decisions about sustaining interventions. Yet the relationship between performance and sustainability in the evaluation literature continues to be very limited. Issues of sustainability and performance are especially relevant for interventions because often the timelines of impact of interventions might be very unclear. Sometimes an intervention might not produce tangible benefits for many years before it results in huge social impacts. Understanding such anticipated timelines of impact become especially critical given the potential nonlinear patterns of change that might be part of the impact processes of interventions.
Key points to consider in reflecting on performance and sustainability include: 1) Decisions to sustain the intervention should be guided by a theory that can help inform the drivers of performance of the intervention. Without a clear program theory it’s hard to tell whether the intervention needs more investment or reduced investment; 2) There is a need to pay attention to the process by which performance targets are set. A point made strongly in the recent evaluation literature is the lack of rigor and quality by which performance targets are set; 3) There is a need to pay attention to the systems dynamics involved in the process of implementing interventions. The nature of the impacts of the intervention might be such that they take a while to accrue.