Learner’s Submission: Results Based Monitoring and Evaluation System in the United Kingdom

“I have to begin be saying that I cannot answer to any of the questions in relation to “my organization” since at the moment I don’t really belong to one. I am a researcher and project coordinator with ten years experience in the corporate sector (market research), committed to pursue a career in international development (Hence taking this course). The past two and a half years spent as an international volunteer reflect genuine interest in development and humanitarian action. I will try to answer based on my overall experience and understanding of development issues and development work.

The key issues are accountability, ownership and sustainability all of them strongly relying on capacity building. While in theory the RBME system addresses all of these issues the reality and the practicality of it is not a straightforward undertaking.

Leaving costs and use of other resources aside, the use of the RMBE system and the demand for RBME information depend on stakeholders’ perception and understanding of their relevance and usefulness to them. So the first step should be identifying their organizational and information needs. Then, based on the findings, a customized “offer” should be made for stakeholders at all levels – bring the system/information down to each of the levels involved. Whether you are trying to sell the system or increase the demand for M&E results information you have to show each of the parties how they can specifically benefit from it.  All these should be done in highly participatory workshops which facilitate comprehension and contribute to future ownership. It is likely that by presenting the new system/tool in comparison with the current way of doing things, giving as many concrete examples as possible, will enhance assimilation.  Presenting actual success stories taking place in a similar context can also help.

Now assuming the idea got through the efforts don’t end here. Buying the idea and putting it into practice are to different things. Even if you have your capacity building needs covered you will probably have to fight old habits, resistance to change and skepticism. Resorting to incentives as well as eliminate disincentives can aid the aide.  Whether the champions get funds for new activities or had their names mentioned in the monthly newsletter, it can only help promote the advantages of the new system/tool. One should pay just as much attention to disincentives; though you don’t buy them they may cost you more than the incentives. Identify problematic instances for champions and make sure they get management backup and support. Emphasize the non-punitive, constructive nature of the system/process, where is the case.

If the circumstances allow it run trials in a project(s)/branch(s) which are part of a bigger program/ organization. This would help setting an example as well as understanding how the RBME system can work for your organization/ program.

Success rates and effectiveness will increase the more it is (or at least feels like) a choice rather than an imposed outside condition.

All these are general statements which could apply more or less to any program or organization. On a different note I would like to mention something that I have encounter in Mozambique last year when I was there for 6 months as an international volunteer. One of the programs I came across called “Teachers of the Future” deals with training teachers for primary schools in rural areas. In the race for achieving the MDGs, “universal primary education for all” in this particular case, the government decided that one year is enough to train a primary school teacher. Consequently the NGO running this program had to squeeze the two and a half years curriculum into one year. Sometimes students enrolling in this program can hardly read or write yet in a year they will be deemed teachers.  Does this speak for the whole program? Maybe not! The point that I am trying to make is that pursuing the MDGs could be a nice excuse and in the chase for target numbers sometimes quality has to takes a fall-back position. Maybe this was a calculated risk on the government’s part. Maybe overall it pays. In monitoring terms they may be on track when it comes to reaching targets. But what about outcomes and impact? An evaluation could provide answers to this part. Maybe one was on its way; maybe corrective measure had been take base on evaluation results. Maybe, maybe …” – Alexandra-Iuliana Sandu – Sidcup, United Kingdom

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