The idea of someone “monitoring” our work and “evaluating” it invokes a reserved response, at best.
On a quest to understand how organisations perceive and grapple with M&E workloads, Emilly Kemigisha, Senior Programme Officer, M&E at the African Palliative Care Association, contacted African hospice and palliative care organisations to learn: (a) how they strategise to address M&E gaps, and (b) what reporting mechanisms they already have in place. Here are two of the most common responses she received:
The issue: ‘We do not have any M&E systems and structures in place at all! We could use all the support we can get’
The response: Asked whether the organisation was able to record any of their patient’s information, one M&E manager affirmed that very single detail of information considered useful is recorded and used to prepare reports for dissemination to stakeholders.
The reality: The organisation not only has M&E reporting structures in place, but they go a step further to conduct a ‘basic analysis’ – using that information to plan for patient support, an essential component to M&E implementation.
The issue: ‘A good M&E system is one with a web based data management system’
The response: While a web based data management system is useful for improving access to information and improving the sharing of data, it is not the sole basis for a good M&E system.
The M&E officer stated that service providers are not motivated to collect the data and also lack an understanding on why data collection is important to their work. On this premise, a web based system may not come in as the immediate solution until the underlying issues are sorted. If the primary tools are not filled out, then what information will be fed into that universal web based system?
The reality: M&E is a something that everyone does in their day to day work – whether through a business, school, health facility or even in larger institutions such as telecommunications companies, churches, etc. However, most of us do monitoring and evaluation without realising that what we are doing is M&E – or if we do, we have complicated it with too many theories, frameworks and tools.
The moment you are able to state what business you have transacted or service you have provided in a specific period of time, you have monitored your activities for that particular period.
If you go so far as to record those details on the relevant documents, then you have even gone a step further in your monitoring by providing evidence of these activities or services.
In setting up a strong M&E infrastructure for any institution/organisation, the starting points are to:
- know what you want to do
- where you want to go
- what you want to achieve
- how you plan to achieve it
- and in what period of time.
But more on that next time we evaluate the impact of this series…