Monitoring & Evaluation: CBM
By now you must have gained a better understanding of community-based monitoring. It might appear confusing, but there is another type of monitoring that is also quite different from the first one. Yes, there is also monitoring of monitors, a kind of ‘meta – monitoring’ called monitoring and evaluation or M&E.
WHAT IS MONITORING & EVALUATION?
Monitoring and Evaluation is the collection, analysis and use of data to evaluate the effectiveness of programs. Monitoring and Evaluation are complementary, but different functions.
WHAT IS MONITORING?
Monitoring is the collection of information related to the progress of projects on a continual basis. In order to assess the progress of the objectives, we use indicators defined in the design phase of the program/project. Indicators can be qualitative or quantitative. Quantitative ones are easier to measure. For example, when CBM was established it was decided that 850 projects should be monitored over a 5-year period, 500 government officials would be trained, etc. It is easy to measure whether these objectives were achieved or not.
WHAT IS EVALUATION?
Evaluation is an objective assessment of the program in order to determine its effectiveness, impact and the sustainability of project interventions based on the project’s objectives. Basically, monitoring means visiting the project frequently, whereas evaluation is a less frequent or periodic practice. There are 2 types of evaluations:
Formative Evaluation is any evaluation undertaken before the end of the project. It is used to modify and improve the project, which can include revising or changing the methodology or objectives.
Summative Evaluation is performed at the end of the project and provides an overall summary of the achievements of the project. It is also referred to as an ex-post evaluation or impact assessment.
WHY DO WE NEED M&E?
M&E helps to assess the program based on the program’s objectives, which also means that it informs managers and key stakeholders about the level of of progress made compared to what was planned at the beginning. It shows donors, stakeholders and partners that their funds were spent in an accountable and transparent manner. It also helps us be accountable and transparent to ourselves. It identifies successful strategies for implementing programs and projects in other contexts and countries. It is also useful for verifying and improving the program quality and management. M&E also includes modifying unsuccessful strategies. It is used to measure the effects and benefits of program and project interventions. Moreover, it helps the senior management to make decisions about the program in a timely manner.
WHY IS M&E NECESSARY FOR CBM?
M&E is important for CBM to determine whether its activities are proceeding according to standards and to determine if they are meeting the requirements of donors. It is also used to determine if projects are monitored according to the guidelines; to assess whether the documentation required for CBM (like the number of times the project was monitored, the problems identified and addressed in the project, and completion reports) is completed. Lastly, it is used to simply verify whether the projects are monitored or not (checking the reports, the videos, etc.) and to measure the increased impact of CBM on the project. It is a way for us to check ourselves; It is a way to MONITOR THE MONITORS.
IMPORTANT NOTES ON CONDUCTING M&E
Every M&E is different and is specific to a program or project. Integrity Watch has its own internal, independent Monitoring & Evaluation unit. But often, organizations hire M&E specialists to independently monitor and evaluate their projects and programs. M&E should be never done by the same party who is implementing the project! As you might imagine, the project implementer would rather prefer to present his work in the best light possible. Therefore the implementer would not strongly highlight the challenges and the problems in the program.
One of the methods for doing M&E is spot checking, where in-depth information of a sample (of all the projects) is collected. For example, the Integrity Watch M&E unit often visits the province of Herat to evaluate the CBM program there:
Other methods include using a checklist which is a quick way to verify things, for example monitors use a Quality Control Checklist to determine the quality issues in a project. Another method is direct observation, which means that carefully watching and taking notes of how individuals work in a program, watching how trainings are conducted, how field visits are conducted, and how filing systems are arranged provides a lot of information for evaluating a program.
See www.civicus.org for more information.