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Monitoring and Evaluation


The world we live in today is fraught with challenges across the sectors of health, education, livelihoods, gender, human rights, among others. In the past two years, many of them have been amplified as the pandemic swept across the globe, leaving in its wake a trail of disruption, forever altering lives for many. As we assess, design and implement crucial interventions, an important component that does not always get the attention it warrants, is the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) design. The monitoring and evaluation framework is the foundation of any development project, and key to its successful implementation and in achieving the envisaged goal and objectives. Starting a project without one is akin to starting a business without enough financial resources. (Sita Shankar Wunnava)

As a part of this literature review, we will be deep-diving into the following elements

Did you know?

The Ancient Egyptians regularly monitored their country’s outputs in grain and livestock production more than 5,000 years ago (Kusek & Rist 2004)

Yes! Monitoring and evaluation is not new.


Both monitoring and evaluation should be done throughout the intervention, not just the end.

Why Monitoring and Evaluation?

  • Impact assessment of intervention* ** † o

  • Project management & planning**

  • Accounting and fund management* † o

  • Self-reflection to improve org. capacity** o

  • Understanding & negotiating stakeholder perspectives** - involving various stakeholders in project planning and tracking

  • Public accountability** - communicating project activities and results to public

*Kusek & Rist 2004; **Estrella & Gaventa 1998;  †Stem 2005;  Shukla et al. 2016

Mind map of a NGO operating environment
World Bank process

Key performance indicators

  • Indicators are quantitative or qualitative variables that provide a simple way to measure achievement or to reflect the changes connected to an intervention

  • Should be indicators for all Theory of Change - Outcomes, Outputs & Activities

  • Indicators answer 2 questions:

    • “How will we know success or achievement when we see it?"

    • "Are we moving toward achieving our desired outcomes?”

  • Rather than only implementers/designers conducting M&E, all types of project stakeholders (e.g. beneficiaries, admin, funders) are involved

  • Assessment of impact conducted entirely or jointly by end user/beneficiaries

Theoretical Benefits

  • enhanced participation improves understanding of the devt. process itself

  • authenticity of M&E findings

  • improved project sustainability - by identifying project strengths & weaknesses

  • increased local capacity in M&E, greater self-reliance

  • sharing of experiences

  • Allows different stakeholders to share their needs, interests and expectations

  • Better communication of project to the public

  • greater accountability to donors

  • more efficient allocation of resources

Partcpatoy M&E

Participatory data collection - to keep in mind​

  • should be perceived by members of community as way to address problems

  • involve beneficiaries in collecting and analysing data

  • match skills of participants

  • fit people's day-to-day responsibilities reinforce community solidarity

  • be sensitive to different social groups only collect necessary information

(Estrella & Gaventa 1998)

  • choice of M&E indicators by orgs has been criticised as being selected for ease of

  • measurement rather than relevance/quality of work

  • some NGO workers feel that M&E targets did not capture their 'real work' and

  • the ways in which they go above-and-beyond. Social indicators, like building

  • trust, often not captured

  • meeting M&E targets has led to NGOs using expensive incentives to meet

  • targets:

    • leading to short-term results rather than sustainability

    • incentives can also cause falsification of data

  • meeting M&E targets has led to some NGOs using coercive methods to get cooperation from stakeholders
    a focus on standardised/de-contextualised indicators might achieve large no.s for reporting, but not have relevance to actual beneficiaries

  • including local perspectives when creating indicators helps contextualise

  • indicators, but makes comparison across contexts difficult
    because of the use of indicators as a measure of NGO performance, M&E does not reflect reality but becomes the reality in many eyes. e.g. to a donor, project reality is what indicators tell them, not what happens on-ground

  • excessive data can lead to an inability to analyse, preventing project
    improvement based on data
    M&E activities can constitute identities which may not be acceptable to those

  • whose identities are being constituted. e.g. if today is a day for HIV +ve people to come into a health centre, leads to outing people as HIV+ve

Practical Consderations
  • Estrella, Marisol, and John Gaventa. "Who counts reality? Participatory monitoring and evaluation: A literature review." (1998).

  • Kusek, Jody Zall, and Ray C. Rist. Ten steps to a results-based monitoring and evaluation system: a handbook for development practitioners. World Bank Publications, 2004.

  • Shukla, Anuprita, Paul Teedon, and Flora Cornish. "Empty rituals? A qualitative study of users’ experience of monitoring & evaluation systems in HIV interventions in western India." Social Science & Medicine 168 (2016): 7-15.

  • Stem, Caroline, et al. "Monitoring and evaluation in conservation: a review of trends and approaches." Conservation biology 19.2 (2005): 295-309.


Research by CoLab; Packaged by CoLab

Designed a M&E course based on this for CoLabED - February batch

For any updates, support or queries, feel free to email us at

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