Design & Implementation: Monitoring and Evaluation
June 6, 2013
Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) in community-driven development (CDD) operations is crucial in order to provide information for decision-making and improve project management, to assess development effectiveness and demonstrate results, and of particular relevance in the CDD context, to empower communities and ensure greater transparency and accountability.
Monitoring refers to the regular collection and analysis of data on specific indicators to assist timely decision making, ensure accountability and provide the basis for learning. It is a continuing function that provides management and other stakeholders with valuable feedback on what is working, what isn't and why, and early indications of progress and achievement of objectives. Ongoing monitoring is integral to a flexible and responsive CDD program, and should serve as a management tool and as a means for advancing CDD goals of accountability, transparency and inclusion. Ideally, CDD programs should incorporate a range of monitoring mechanisms - data on financial and physical outputs generated by management information systems, independent audits or external monitoring by civil society groups, supervision missions, and participatory methods which actively engage key stakeholders, particularly primary beneficiaries, throughout the process.
Impact evaluation assesses changes in the well-being of individuals that can be attributed to a particular project, program or policy. Despite the inherent challenges of conducting impact assessment of CDD programs, there is a growing recognition that there is a need for evidence of the actual impact of such programs and a need for insights on how to improve project performance. Thus impact evaluations are emerging as a strong priority within CDD. In order to ensure the rigor of such evaluations, it is important that they follow good practice in terms of identifying comparison groups, establishing a baseline, and mixing quantitative and qualitative methods.
Because of the way that CDD projects are designed and operate, monitoring can be challenging since:
- Participant communities may be unknown beforehand.
- Outputs are usually unknown beforehand.
- Measuring multiple results in CDD (multi-sectoral) can be difficult
- Measuring social capital, empowerment can be tricky
What is normally monitored in CDD Projects?
Progress against workplan (inputs, outputs), for example:
- Are funds being used as planned?
- Are project interventions reaching the intended beneficiaries?
- Quality of inputs?
- Are poor, women, and vulnerable groups participating in the process?
What would we like to evaluate for impact?
Some examples include:
- Has CDD been effective at reducing poverty? Has it reached the poor?
- What are the impacts on livelihoods and employment?
- Has CDD improved access to services, quality, utilization?
- Are CDD projects cost effective compared to other mechanisms?
- Is the infrastructure maintained?
- Do CDD projects promote improvement in local governance?
- Does it build stronger, more responsive local institutions?
- Transparency, participation, inclusion especially of women/vulnerable groups
- Do CDD projects improve social relations and cohesion?
- Does it reduce incidents of conflict?
Common methods for collecting data
- Field monitoring by government staff; Supervision missions
- Community participatory monitoring
- Case studies undertaken by independent researchers
- NGO/journalist independent monitoring
- Grievance/complaints database
- Financial reviews and audits
- Impact Evaluation: Rigorous quantitative evaluations which attribute impact on outcome indicators to the project
- Best practice: Treatment and Control groups measured ex-ante and ex-post project implementation
- Qualitative component to determine how and why impacts are occurring
- Infrastructure Studies: Rigorously developed methods using economists and engineers to assess sub-project infrastructure