Impact Study 2020


Every year we fund an independent impact study to evaluate our work


The study provides evidence of how life has changed for the trainees and communities we support. It helps us to learn about what we are doing well, and where the main challenges are.

The 2020 Impact Study was conducted by Lifetime Consulting and Partners Ltd. The study was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and took place in November 2020.

The study focused on our Training into Work programme and our community build projects from 2014, 2017 and 2018.

“So far, the most significant change has been buying a piece of land and building, having documents confirming that this land belongs to me really gives my heart rest.

Knowing too well that my kids and I will always have a place to point at and say that this is my home.

The skills imparted in me will always forever be in my DNA – it is something that no one can ever get away from me”

Timothy Simpokolowe, 2017 graduate

Interviewed for Impact Study 2020. Pictured at his graduation receiving his certificate from Rueben Lifuka

Timothy Simpokolowe receiving his training certificate at his graduation

Our 2020 Impact Study involved:

  • Surveying 307 people: 180 graduates (28% female) and 127 non-trained comparison group (25% female).

In this study graduates are those we trained: 1 – 1.5 years ago = ‘Year One’ in the report, 2 – 2.5 years ago = ‘Year Two’ and 5 years ago = ‘Year Five’.

Data is gathered when trainees start their training (baseline) and compared with data through the Impact Study (follow up).


  • 7 focus groups with 71 graduates and comparison group participants
  • 24 Most Significant Change (MSC) stories gathered from graduates
  • 20 key informant interviews: school heads, community, Build It staff & employers

The process was aided by a desk review of baseline data and previous reports.

  • At least three quarters of graduates (78%) were working in construction within 6 months after graduation
  • On average, it took 3.1 months for graduates to engage in construction activities
  • 51% of graduates reported high activity in construction (10 days work and above, per month), and 23% reported low activity in construction (1 – 9 days work, per month)
  • 84% of male graduates were working in construction within 6 months after graduation
  • 63% of female graduates were working in construction within 6 months after graduation

The average monthly income per graduate was estimated at Zambian Kwacha (ZMK) 2124. From this 76% (1610 ZMK), was from construction related activities.

The increase accounted for a +527% change at follow up, from a baseline average income of 339 ZMK per month.

Comparatively, graduates’ income was 144% higher than for the comparison group.

The graph shows positive changes in average monthly incomes for graduates from baseline to follow up.

Average incomes for all selected groups in this survey were found above the poverty line of $1.90 per day. This was calculated to be 570 ZMW per month at baseline and 1078 ZMW in November 2020.

The performance of Year 1 and Year 2 graduates is particularly impressive in terms of monthly earnings. This is largely attributed to improvements made to the delivery of Build It courses over the years, as well as these graduates working living closer to Lusaka where wages and opportunities are higher.

The relative underperformance of Year 5 group is explained by the fact that they are mostly rural based where there is less work. However, the extra income gained from construction work can go a lot further than in the towns and cities where rent and food are more expensive.

Table showing Monthly Graduate Income - 2020 Impact Study

The average monthly income for female graduates from construction activities was significantly lower (434 ZMW) than that of their male counterparts (2,270 ZMW).

Likewise, more male participants (63%) were earning at least $1.90 per day compared with 41% of their female counterparts.

The Poverty Probability Index (PPI®) is a poverty measurement tool, benchmarked for Zambia.

It is not based on income, but rather uses other key information. it generates score based on 10 easy-to-answer questions including “What material is your roof made out of? How many of your children are in school?” The PPI is country-specific.

The lower the PPI score, the more likely the household is living below the poverty line. We aim to recruit people whose household scores less than 40.

PPI data is gathered when the trainees start their training (baseline) and compared with data from the same questions through the Impact Study (follow up).

Graph showing rainee PPI scores at the start of training - 2020 Impact Study
Graph showing Progress out of Poverty at follow up

The graphs shows the changes from baseline to follow up. The green area indicates PPI scores at baseline, while the purple areas shows PPI scores at the time of this study.

Data shows that a higher proportion of households had lower PPI scores at baseline, indicated by the visible green area above the purple one.

After graduation the graph levelled and progressed to the right, indicating a reduction in poverty likelihood among Build It graduates.

Overall, findings show that our Training into Work programme is working well. However it does highlight the need to find ways to improve post training earning for female graduates.

From the interviews and stories collected in this study, it is clear that the graduates believe that the skills learnt and the qualification they received through the training programme have helped change their lives. There has been a positive increase in the proportion of graduates saving money, and owning saving facilities such as bank accounts and mobile money accounts.

We continually strive to increase the impact of our programme. Our Training Team is currently working through the lessons learned and recommendations from the Impact Study.

In particular, we have developed a gender strategy to increase female participation. This aims to deliver a gender balanced programme by 2023/24. This will include new courses, redeveloped life-skills component and enhanced career development support.

“Years back we never had a school centre for examinations. The pupils were only reaching up to Grade 6, then we would take them to town to write their Grade 7.

Nevertheless, we now have an examination centre. Our children are now able to write their exams here. Not only Grade 7, but grades have been extended up to Grade 9.

This is really a huge development in our community that we have never experienced before”

Dennis Simpungwe, Chair of Parent Teacher Committee at Shipungu School

Interviewed for Impact Study 2020

Dennis Simpungwe Chair PTC Shipungu School

The impact study process was aided by a desk review of baseline data and previous reports, plus interviews with key people and observation visits to:

  • Three schools around Lusaka: Bissell Community School, Katole Community School and Kamaila Primary School
  • Three near Kapiri Mposhi: Mwala Primary School, Machaya Community School and Lupuka Primary School
  • Donata Special Needs School
  • Shipungu Primary School

The schools we have supported are providing access for pupils who would otherwise be unable to attend or progress with school.

Overall, there have been substantial increases in student enrolment across all the schools that Build It has invested in.

Graph showing student enrolment - 2020 Impact Study

A total of 3,568 pupils were enrolled in the eight sampled schools, of which 49.6% were female. The figures show a general positive trend to ensure that girls are given similar opportunities to enrol in school

After investment in a school, the government usually deploys qualified teachers to teach at the school. This often depends on the availability of accommodation available for teachers, particularly in more rural areas. This is why we build teacher’s houses at many of our rural community projects.

Graph showing number of teachers in schools - 2020 Impact Study

The study confirms the relevance of our efforts in the areas in which school buildings were constructed. Heads of schools and community leaders who were interviewed said that their schools had experienced major improvements since our interventions.

Infrastructural improvements have helped enhance teaching and learning outcomes. Most schools have experienced growth in enrolment and increased staffing capacity. This has led to significant increase in pupils enrolment, and it has also positively impacted on community attitudes towards education.

However, the high demand often results in over-enrolment. This exerts pressure on the few buildings and teacher-pupil ratios are still very high which can compromise the quality of education that the children receive.

While there are a number of wider issues to consider, our immediate focus is on strengthening skills in the local community to maintain the new buildings in good working order. A new training initiative is being put together.

The full 2020 Impact Study report is available on request.

Please contact us on +44 1743 246317 (UK Office) or +260 211 267715 (Zambia Office), or email info@builditinternational.org