Monitoring & Evaluation
Monitoring is the periodic oversight of the implementation of an activity which seeks to establish the extent to which input deliveries, work schedules, other required actions and targeted outputs are proceeding according to plan, so that timely action can be taken to correct deficiencies detected. “Monitoring” is also useful for the systematic checking on a condition or set of conditions, such as following the situation of women and children.
Evaluation is a process which attempts to determine as systematically and objectively as possible the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and impact of activities in the light of specified objectives. It is a learning and action-oriented management tool and organizational process for improving current activities and future planning, programming and decision-making.
To evaluate means “to ascertain the value or worth of,” according to its Latin root. Knowing what difference programs are making motivates workers and their supporters to renewed effort. Although evaluations may be retrospective, they are essentially forward looking with regard to their purpose. Evaluation applies the lessons of experience to decisions about current and future programs. Good evaluation presents alternatives for decision-makers to consider. Evaluation can be an excellent learning tool as well as a means to improve program performance and demonstrate accountability. Too often evaluation is perceived as threatening; it should be constructive. For example, an evaluation can be tapped for developing human resources and improving management and planning capabilities. Evaluation results can be used in advocacy and fundraising efforts to obtain greater support from governments, private organizations, and the general public.
Both monitoring and evaluation are management tools. In the case of monitoring, information for tracking progress according to previously agreed on plans and schedules is routinely gathered.
Discrepancies between actual and planned implementation are identified and corrective actions taken. When findings are used to monitor the development results (effects, impacts) it is sometimes referred to as ongoing evaluation. Evaluation is more episodic than monitoring. It is facilitated by monitoring but utilizes additional sources of information. Many such sources are identified during project reviews when there is a need to understand why inputs did not lead to planned outputs. Evaluation focuses on specific questions related to effectiveness and impact in order to influence future programs or services.
Impact assessment is often difficult because causality is difficult to determine, in addition to being costly and time-consuming. However, managers need to know the effects of project activities on the intended beneficiaries during implementation. Community monitoring programs can record impacts locally and use results to modify project activities. Impacts may be assessed informally, through conversations with beneficiaries, women’s groups, village elders. This allows managers to adjust strategies, if necessary, during implementation, rather than continue less than effective activities.
The objectives of monitoring and evaluation are:
- To improve management of programs, projects and supporting activities and to ensure optimum use of funds and other resources
- To learn from experience so as to improve the relevance, methods and outcomes of cooperative programs
- To strengthen the capacity of co-operating government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and local communities to monitor and evaluate
- To meet the requirements of donors to see whether their resources are being used effectively, efficiently and for agreed upon objectives
- To provide information to enhance advocacy for policies, programs and resources, that improves the condition of women and children.
Achieving the first purpose
Social worker requires better monitoring and evaluation throughout the programming cycle and prompt supply of information to decision-makers. The second purpose – to learn from experience, develop and refine intervention policies – will be achieved only if procedures are set up to disseminate findings to decision-makers and to use them for corrective action. The third – strengthening national capacity – requires working with responsible officials and program staff, and often involves supporting institutional strengthening. Meeting donor requirements, the fourth purpose, relates to fundraising and often depends on occasional external evaluations carried out by teams of specialists. Finally, advocacy for improved policies and programs and mobilization of greater personal