Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of development activities provides government officials, development managers, and civil society with better means for learning from past experience, present and future interventions, improving service delivery, planning and allocating resources, and demonstrating results as part of accountability to key stakeholders. Monitoring and evaluation can help an organization to extract relevant information, from past and ongoing activities, that can subsequently be used as the basis for programmatic fine-tuning, reorientation and planning. It can help improve performance and achieve results.
Without monitoring and evaluation, it would be impossible to judge if projects were going in the right direction, whether progress and success could be claimed, and how future efforts might be improved. However, there is no single definition or approach to participatory M&E leaving the field open for interpretation and experimentation. There is often confusion about what M&E entails.
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The main objectives of today’s results-oriented monitoring and evaluation are to :
Monitoring and evaluation take place at two distinct but closely connected levels :
- Enhance organizational and development learning;
- Ensure informed decision-making;
- Support substantive accountability and UNDP repositioning;
- Build country capacity in each of these areas and in monitoring and evaluating functions in general.
- One level focuses on the outputs, which are the specific products and services that emerge from processing inputs through program, project and other activities such as through ad hoc soft assistance delivered outside of projects and programs;
- The other level focuses on the outcomes of development efforts, which are the changes in development conditions that an organization aims to achieve through its projects and programs. Outcomes incorporate the production of outputs and the contributions of partners. (see: http://stone.undp.org/undpweb/eo/evalnet/docstore3/yellowbook/)
Besides the conventional monitoring and evaluation there is the Participatory M&E, which :
- Is a process of individual and collective learning and capacity development through which people become more aware and conscious of their strengths and weaknesses, their wider social realities, and their visions and perspectives of development outcomes. This learning process creates conditions conducive to change and action;
- Emphasises varying degrees of participation (from low to high) of different types of stakeholders in initiating, defining the parameters for, and conducting M&E;
- Is a social process of negotiation between people’s different needs, expectations and worldviews. It is a highly political process which addresses issues of equity, power and social transformation; and
- Is a flexible process, continuously evolving and adapting to the program specific circumstances and needs.
M&E stakeholders are those people who have a stake in the program. They are persons who take decisions using the M&E data and findings. Types of Stakeholders are:
- The community whose situation the program seeks to change;
- Project Field Staff who implement activities;
- Program Managers who oversee program implementation;
- Funders and other Decision-Makers who decide the course of action related to the program;
- Supporters, critics and other stakeholders who influence the program environment.
To strengthen awareness and interest in M&E, there is a lot more information to be found online. The following websites clarify what M&E entails:
Methods and Tools Methods Approaches: This Worldbank guide gives some tools, various methods (Rapid Appraisal Methods and Participatory Methods) and approaches on monitoring and evaluation.
http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/global_health/aids/TechAreas/monitoreval/ : This site is to learn more about the monitoring and evaluation of USAID’s programs.
Monitoring and Evaluation Toolkit : This is a link to a Monitoring and evaluation toolkit on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The toolkit provides information on how to select indicators, the basic elements on M&E, establishing and strengthening an M&E program etc.
http://www.globalhivmeinfo.org/ : This Web site is designed for monitoring and evaluation (M&E) specialists supporting HIV/AIDS initiatives in countries, headquarters, regional organizations, etc. These include field officers placed in-country by international partner agencies; their country counterparts working in national, regional, and local government agencies and non governmental organizations; staff located at headquarters of international partner agencies; and other practitioners interested in M&E of HIV/AIDS programs.