RE: Developing effective, inclusive and gender responsive MEAL systems | Eval Forward

Dear Eriasafu,

Thank you for raising these important questions and emphasizing the need for integrating the evaluation function with those of monitoring and learning. All these important functions are inter-connected and as such are integral parts of the effective project management cycle. It would, indeed, be the most effective approach if an evaluation could be integrated in the overall results-focused management system from the start, rather than be carried out as a “one-off” exercise occurring only at certain point of the project/programme cycle.

I would like to highlight a few points that may stimulate further discussion on the questions that you have posted.

Purpose and utility

Before any monitoring and evaluation system is established or developed, its main users/stakeholders and developers need to be clear on the purpose and utility of the system. For example, the system that is mainly generating data for higher-level (corporate) reporting is different from the system that focuses on measuring benefits to the local community or beneficiary-level impact monitoring.  Any system developed need also be pragmatic, and take into account available capacities and resources, without creating or adding levels of complexity or functions that may not be used subsequently.

Human rights and gender-related considerations.

The monitoring and evaluation systems should adhere to the rights-based approaches, potentially identifying the effect of programmes on people realizing their human rights and identifying potential best practices of ensuring respect for human rights while implementing operations and programmes. The monitoring and evaluation processes and activities should duly integrate gender-related considerations, measuring any effect of programmes on women, girls, men and boys, and assessing benefits and deprivations. These can be achieved by integrating gender-sensitive indicators of performance in projects’ results and resources frameworks, identifying potential sources of gender-disaggregated information, and ensuring that gender-disaggregated data is collected and used for monitoring and evaluation, to the extent possible. 

Addressing constraints

Monitoring and evaluation activities should take due consideration of the projects and programmes’ operating environment and in particular potential constraints and risks. In emergencies and crisis-affected settings, there are multiple constraints and limitations, including issues of secure access to project sites and intended informants, availability and reliability of data, possible biases of key informants in crisis-affected settings due to their location or affiliation. These constraints can be addressed by using local partners/experts, using third party monitoring, and/or use of modern technology that allows remote monitoring and data collection (e.g. remote sensing via satellites, geospatial data available, digital data collection, mobile phone-based data platforms, remote sensing with satellites, etc.)

Do No Harm

In all contexts, and particularly in crises-affected settings, “Do No Harm” principles should be applied in planning and undertaking the monitoring and evaluation activities, bearing in mind potential sensitivities and tensions. The proposed M&E approaches should be planned in a manner that do not affect providers of monitoring and evaluation data, and do not exacerbate existing tensions, and/or worsen relationships between the informants and the other local actors/communities. 

Kindest regards,

Serdar Bayryyev (FAO)