Saturday, July 6, 2013

Measuring long term change in Developmental Interventions, tricky business

Is Monitoring and Evaluation the answer???

Many times there have always been attempts to use the skills and experiences of Monitoring and Evaluation  specialists who know exactly what they are doing, yes you know what that exactly means right? Big organizations have spent millions of dollars just trying to find answers to the questions that matter most in the developmental world...developmental change. But then, has Monitoring and Evaluation actually achieved the goals of measuring long term developmental change? Have they? What do you actually think? To some extent Monitoring and Evaluation has done a good job in measuring change but that hasn't gone without extensive challenges. You heard it loud and clear challenges just creep in even to the most sophisticated and killer researchers dealing in developmental work. You see one of the biggest challenges in measuring change is that it comes with a whole lot of many other problems which cannot easily be sorted out in the short term. Lets dive into this a little shall we?

Measuring change in the developmental world, you gotta believe it

It has always been extremely hard to measure change especially when it takes the form of policy change, empowerment, change of attitude and climate change. May sound like it doesn't make sense, but just read the following to see how difficult even the best Monitoring and Evaluation specialists have in really reporting change, if at all they even do report on it at all. Lets get down to business because this is the real world.

1) Policy Change; Policy is one of those things which you have to agree is just long term stuff. Besides, the truth is even if your programme is supporting implementing organizations that are lobbying to governments, how do you actually attribute that your programme is primarily responsible for a policy change when there are so many players in the equations? Not forgetting the fact that policy change is actually a long term change intervention which you can't measure only after maybe 3 - 5 years. But how does Monitoring and Evaluation actually help when it comes to Monitoring the policy component in a developmental programme or project. Hope this answer doesn't break your heart because the truth is if you are going to Monitor and Evaluate the policy component at all, you have to concentrate on Monitoring activities and outputs. There is NO TWO WAYS ABOUT IT!! GOT IT!!!!!!!!!

2) Empowerment; Every programme or project is just talking about empowerment so much that you see that word in almost all programmes or projects in this world. There are times when you have to agree that actually Monitoring and Evaluating this component is damn hard...WHY?? Because empowerment is about the change in attitude and the mindset of the target group. Not forgetting again that it is long term intervention. Lets just say that your developmental programme wants to empower your target group to be self sustaining, you will only be able to get your results maybe 3 - 5 years later. Thats pretty tough right? But again, to Monitor and Evaluate Empowerment, the best is just to concentrate on activities and outputs such as trainings, workshops e.t.c There is NO TWO WAYS ABOUT IT!!............................GOT IT!!!!!!!!!

3) Climate Change; Developmental programmes or projects that have this as their indicator are just way too ambitious. Think of it, what exactly can a programme or project do to bring climate change in 3 - 5 years that has taken nearly centuries to destroy? Lets be real the only way you can realistically have Monitoring and Evaluation in the whole equation is to concentrate in activities and outputs. There is NO TWO WAYS ABOUT IT!! 

Embracing the reality as an organization

As an organizations you know the challenges and you obviously know the risks, but then what are you going to do about it? Donor pressure is mounting to see certain indicators that you don't 100% agree with in your programmes especially knowing that Monitoring and Evaluation will be painfully difficult to report on, what are you going to do? It all begins with the planning stage of a programme or project development. It all lies with involving all the relevant stakeholders in the planning stage, it all begins by clearly unveiling the reality of setting certain indicators and really knowing what your programme or project can really achieve given the limited resources. Setting indicators isn't always easy but you can be a winner only if you know what your programme or project can realistically achieve and what you can realistically measure. Take Monitoring and Evaluation to a whole different level folks!!


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