Sunday, October 18, 2015

39. Monitoring and Evaluation for a Multi-disciplinary Policy Project

Oct. 18, 2015
Ann Arbor, MI -- East Lansing, MI -- Kigali, Rwanda

Today we submitted the first draft of the "Monitoring & Evaluation"  (M&E) plan for the Africa Great Lakes Coffee (AGLC) project to USAID.  The process of putting together a professional M&E plan has been interesting. A few bullet points:
  1. An M&E plan must be designed with the funder's persective in mind. In the case of AGLC the funder is USAID so the indicators and the M&E plan have to keep USAID's processes, schedule and requirements in mind. Note -- the funders' requirements often change! (Requirements last year may change this year.)
  2. The M&E plan must keep the key goals and most essential objectives "front and center." An experienced M&E professional I talked with gave me some wise advice -- "get the goals of the project defined in a way that can be said and written in 2 short sentences." Only with such a concise and understandable goal, can a project be sure to deliver results. Otherwise disorganization and confusion happens, instead of synergy and cohesion.
  3. The field of M&E is evolving -- in fact it is no longer being called M&E at USAID, rather "Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning" or MEAL. This makes sense and in fact became a topic on our AGLC project already. One of our partners, Global Knowledge Institute (GKI), has "communication" as part of their scope of work. But today, MEAL is about creating feedback loops and "learning processes" within and during the project, which, of course, involves a lot of communication among the partners. So Andrew (with GKI) and I realized we will have some coordinating to do to avoid duplication. 
So M&E today asks: What are we learning as the project gets started? How can that learning be transmitted so that all project components benefit?  This is the vital role of MEAL in my view. I think of it as "turbo charging" the learning and effectiveness of a project.

No comments:

Post a Comment