Monitoring Data: Quantitative
In the CBM process diagram, STEP 8 describes the local monitoring and data production process. Local monitors are the primary monitors of infrastructure projects. They have been nominated and elected by the community to do this job. Focal points, QC engineers and Program officers play a supporting role in the monitoring process. Monitoring Data consists of the following forms:
WHAT TO WE DO WITH THIS DATA?
All of the monitoring data is entered into the CBM database. Our engineers and focal points also use this data and photographs to create reports to present to the Provincial Monitoring Board.
WHAT IS A DATABASE?
A database is a collection of quantitative and qualitative data that are stored in a structured manner. It is created for a simple and quick retrieval of data when these are needed. To put it simply: you have all the data you need in one place.
WHAT IS THE CBM DATABASE?
The CBM program currently uses a database developed in Microsoft Access to record all of the project information, monitoring data, including photographs and project documents. The CBM program has both an offline and an online version of its database that is for public viewing. Go to the CBM Online Database.
BENEFITS OF USING A DATABASE
When we obtain information from the field, this information can be disorganized and unclassified. Data that is not properly stored in a certain order is difficult to use. A database is the simplest way for processing and creating information. Since CBM information should be accessible to all, having a database is essential.
Moreover, evaluating the progress of the projects in the field is very simple when you have a database (pre-setup indicators are created). Additionally, identifying problems and solving them is easier when you have a database. For example, it is used for holding donors and implementers accountable. A database is thus, an important tool for advocacy work since it becomes a reference and a base for producing the organization’s ‘positions’ on a certain issue. Since a database provides ‘numbers’ it is also a good source for providing ‘quantity’ reports.
REGULAR DATA INPUT
The CBM database is updated on a monthly basis. All data collected at the provincial level is validated and cleaned in Kabul by the database assistant. However, not all database fields are regularly updated because some fields are entered only once like the “project name,” “project start date,” “donor name,” etc.
Other data, however, is updated every month, such as “project status,” “problems encountered,” “monitoring end date,” etc.
CREATING YOUR OWN MONITORING TOOLS
The advantage of using largely quantitative monitoring tools, such as the Baseline/Endline survey and weekly monitoring data, is to produce data that is comparable over a large period of time.
If you are monitoring the health sector by surveying patients who have used a particular clinic, it is possible to present the collective data of 500-1000 individuals’ experiences to the government.
There is a lot of POWER IN NUMBERS. When journalists write articles about a particular school, clinic or road project, that is a good way to raise awareness about one area or create pressure on a particular issue. But, if you want to convince the government or donors to reform their policies, it is important to make a compelling argument that is backed up by quantitative data. People try to dismiss case studies, articles and even at times qualitative data-based reports by saying that they are SUBJECTIVE.
Though quantitative data analysis is also subjective to some degree, it has the appearance of being more OBJECTIVE and thus, NEUTRAL. This means that it is harder for government officials and policymakers to delegitimize and attack your data.
But, in order to have a large body of data, the data has to be collected over a long period of time using the same questions and variables. Long-term data collection allows you to IDENTIFY TRENDS and PATTERNS regarding, for example, corruption risks, problems in delivering public services and can even help generate a list of consistently irresponsible construction companies (a type of blacklist). If you want to change policies, you cannot just focus on one district, one school, one province or even one project. You have to understand how the mining, education, health or infrastructure sectors are broadly operating. This is so that you can MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR HOW TO CHANGE THE POLICIES OF A PARTICULAR GOVERNMENT SECTOR.
For example, in our program, we use our database to identify consistently irresponsible construction companies, or projects where it is difficult to get access to information that are largely funded by one donor. This type of data helps our ADVOCACY unit write letters, set-up meetings and write articles putting pressure on a particular company, donor or government body. We can also identify if there are certain provinces, where the line departments are better at monitoring projects and responding to community needs. These provinces are then cited as a MODEL to emulate. Download Integrity Watch’s Integrity Manual for more information on Research Methods.