Very few reviews of projects take place more than one year after they end – most projects have a final review while they are still running or at best a year after they complete. Yet judgements are frequently made in final project reviews about the sustainability of interventions: judgements often based on limited evidence and heroic assumptions.
In May 2017, we returned to western China to review the Gansu Basic Education Project (GBEP) a UK aid-funded pilot project that ran from 1999-2006.
The ripple effect tells the story of this visit and assesses which of the changes in the education system initiated by the project are still in evidence today. It offers some unique perspectives – a real test of the meaning of “sustainability” – and some thoughts on how projects could be better designed to achieve long-term impact.