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Monitoring and Evaluation

In this section, we will outline several important considerations to keep in mind as you work towards setting up a M&E system for your organisation. From experience it is a good practice to include M&E from inception when setting up your organisation or a project. Though often mentioned together, both are different activities; however they do have in common “learning”. That is learning from what you are doing and how you are doing it.

What is Monitoring?
Monitoring involves tracking your project’s progress by systematically gathering and analysing information about what you are doing, who your project or programme is reaching and whether the activities being implemented are according to plans. Your monitoring activities provide the foundation for your evaluation.

What is Evaluation?
This is a comparison you make between your actual project’s impact against the agreed-on plans. It looks at the things you have set out to do, what you have been able to achieve and how it was accomplished.

Having in place a M&E system is more than just a database. You must be clear about your overall objective and think through how to track your activities and progress in order to make sure you are achieving your set out goals and objectives including your vision and mission.

For your M & E to be successful, you must conduct a baseline. This means that before the project starts you want to collect data on the state of things before your intervention. This is the basis for which you will measure change. Depending on the specific goals of your project, data to be collected may include communities, household and/or individuals. The baseline assessment is an important part of your organisations M&E system as the data collected during this phase can be used to refine the project design. The process is repeated in the course of the project to track progress, retool and at the end measure overall impact.

We recommend the following steps in setting up a M&E system for your organisation.

  1. Have a M&E schedule
    • Ask yourself; what key deliverables is our M&E system contributing to and what dates are they due?
    • What are our donor/government/ organisational reporting requirements?
    • How will we be using the data collected: for internal programme management, to feed into annual planning and budgeting, mid-term evaluation, final evaluation, as a decision-making tool or regular programme monitoring?

    Your M&E schedule should include indicators to track progress towards long term sustainability. Indicators are clues, signs or markers that measure one aspect of a program and show how close a program is to its desired path and outcomes. Read more about indicators here: http://www.mnestudies. com/monitoring/what-indicators-and-typesindicators
  2. Define your indicators using your programme or project objectives. en/articles/336-indicators.html for information on how to do this.
  3. Choose appropriate data collection methods. Evidence based data is critical in telling the story of how your project is making impact. To achieve this, you will need to make careful decisions about the type of data (information) you need to collect that will tell your story better. A good M&E plan provides information on the number of beneficiaries receiving support from the project and how this support is bringing about changes in their lives. Data collection methods must be simple, easy to use and available to all so that everyone can learn from the data.
  4. Start with a paper process first. It is best to design your step by step M & E process using paper- based forms at first. Once the system becomes more advanced you can choose to automate some aspects. The following questions will help in designing your data collection system.
  5. Build staff /volunteer capacity for data collection and design a reference toolkit. As soon as the system is designed and ready for use, design a training module and reference toolkit for staff and volunteers working in the organisation. Ensure to have in the toolkit possible challenges staff may face and provide guidance on how it can be addressed. It is helpful to clearly define your indicators and guidance on what and how to track them.
  6. Do a test run. We recommend testing your system before it is fully rolled out. Doing a practice run of your system from the beginning to end, will help you spot challenges and technical issues before your actual implementation of the system.