This section provides a brief introduction to what M&E is, together with a selection of recommended reading and further links to help you get started.Monitoring...is the systematic and routine collection of information from projects and programmes for four main purposes:
Monitoring is a periodically recurring task already beginning in the planning stage of a project or programme. Monitoring allows results, processes and experiences to be documented and used as a basis to steer decision-making and learning processes. Monitoring is checking progress against plans. The data acquired through monitoring is used for evaluation.Evaluation...is assessing, as systematically and objectively as possible, a completed project or programme (or a phase of an ongoing project or programme that has been completed). Evaluations appraise data and information that inform strategic decisions, thus improving the project or programme in the future.Evaluations should help to draw conclusions about five main aspects of the intervention:
Information gathered in relation to these aspects during the monitoring process provides the basis for the evaluative analysis.
- How we do it
M&E is an embedded concept and constitutive part of every project or programme design (“must be”). M&E is not an imposed control instrument by the donor or an optional accessory (“nice to have”) of any project or programme. M&E is ideally understood as dialogue on development and its progress between all stakeholders.In general, monitoring is integral to evaluation. During an evaluation, information from previous monitoring processes is used to understand the ways in which the project or programme developed and stimulated change. Monitoring focuses on the measurement of the following aspects of an intervention:
The evaluation process is an analysis or interpretation of the collected data which delves deeper into the relationships between the results of the project/programme, the effects produced by the project/programme and the overall impact of the project/programme.Evaluation and monitoring systems can be an effective way to:
- Provide constant feedback; on the extent to which the projects are achieving their goals.
- Identify potential problems; at an early stage and propose possible solutions.
- Monitor the accessibility of the project; to all sectors of the target population.
- Monitor the efficiency; with which the different components of the project are being implemented and suggest improvements.
Evaluate the extent to which the project is able to achieve its general objectives.
- Provide guidelines; for the planning of future projects.
- Influence sector assistance strategy; Relevant analysis from project and policy evaluation can highlight the outcomes of previous interventions, and the strengths and weaknesses of their implementation.
- Improve project design; Use of project design tools which results in systematic selection of indicators for monitoring project performance. The process of selecting indicators for monitoring is a test of the soundness of project objectives and can lead to improvements in project design.
- Incorporate views of stakeholders; Awareness is growing that participation by project beneficiaries in design and implementation brings greater “ownership” of project objectives and encourages the sustainability of project benefits. Ownership brings accountability. Objectives should be set and indicators selected in consultation with stakeholders, so that objectives and targets are jointly “owned”. The emergence of recorded benefits early on helps reinforce ownership, and early warning of emerging problems allows action to be taken before costs rise.
- Show need for mid-course corrections; A reliable flow of information during implementation enables managers to keep track of progress and adjust operations to take account of experience.
At the programme level, the purpose of monitoring and evaluation is to track implementation and outputs systematically, and measure the effectiveness of programmes. It helps determine exactly when a programme is on track and when changes may be needed. Monitoring and evaluation forms the basis for modification of interventions and assessing the quality of activities being conducted.Monitoring and evaluation can be used to demonstrate that programme efforts have had a measurable impact on expected outcomes and have been implemented effectively. It is essential in helping managers, planners, implementers, policy makers, donors and investors acquire the information and understanding they need to make informed decisions about programme operations.Monitoring and evaluation helps with identifying the most valuable and efficient use of resources. It is critical for developing objective conclusions regarding the extent to which programmes can be judged a “success”. Monitoring and evaluation together provide the necessary data to guide strategic planning, to design and implement programmes and projects, and to allocate, and re-allocate resources in better ways.(Adapted from Gage and Dunn 2009, Frankel and Gage 2007)
For enterprises, organisations addressing risk, monitoring and evaluation is more than a costing or cost-effectiveness exercise. It is a way of ensuring that investors, enterprises, organisations are able to run business free from risk.What can be learned in general from monitoring and evaluation of enterprises/organisations?
What can be learned about specific interventions from monitoring?Are the proposed activities being carried out in the manner outlined? Why/ why not?What services are provided, to whom, when, how often, for how long, in what context?Are services accessible? Is the quality adequate? Is the target population being reached?Are women being further harmed or endangered because of the intervention?Have there been any unforeseen consequences as a result of the activities?Are activities leading to expected results?Do the interventions or assumptions need to be amended in any way?
What can be learned about specific interventions from evaluation?The outcomes that were observed?Whether the intervention is making a difference?If yes, what actual difference the intervention is making; how it is making this difference and for whom.The extent to which the intervention is responsible for the measured or observed changes.The unforeseen consequences, if any, that resulted from the intervention?What are some important questions that an evaluation can help answer?Is the intervention feasible and acceptable?Did it have an impact?Why or why not? How and for whom did it have an impact?Are the results credible?Is it affordable and cost effective?Can the cost be compared with alternatives to investment?Is it replicable to other settings?Where is it replicable? Where is it not replicable?Are the results likely to be generalizable?Can it be scaled up? That is, can the intervention be adapted, replicated or built on to increase its reach or scope (for a larger population or a different region)?If yes, how can it be scaled up? What aspects can be scaled up?