Is monitoring and evaluation a hype? Or is a sustainable change taking place in international development, that embeds M & E processes in the structures of organizations, governments and projects? According to Michael Quinn Patton, lecturer in the E-learning course “Emerging practices in development evaluations” offered by MyMandE, the demand for M & E has increased dramatically during the last couple of years in international development. Due to the increasing demand from citizens, civil society and donor organizations for more accountability and transparency, governments and development organizations are investing more and more in M & E systems, staff training in M & E, mid-term reviews, learning networks and evaluations. Knowledge exchange and an increasing need for ‘lesson learning’ under development professionals accelerates this demand.
M & E processes become ownership driven
The client is increasingly becoming the starting point of evaluations. M & E processes become more client- and less donor driven. The role of donors is changing from the demanding, controlling and directive investor into the supportive and guiding partner. Evidence which is showing this development towards ownership driven evaluations are:
- Learning questions, stakeholders and evaluation tools are formulated by the client with support of the evaluator;
- Project management and staff are fully involved in the evaluation design, data collection, analysis and the process of formulation of conclusions and recommendations;
- (Mid-term) Evaluations become a tool of lesson learning;
- Project indicators are aligned with National indicators;
- Governments and local development organizations increasingly invest in capacity development of their staff and structures facilitating monitoring & evaluation practices;
- Electronic discussions groups, such as Yammer, Linkedin and Facebook are used as tools supporting knowledge exchange processes between development professionals.
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A changing role of the evaluator
These development show that indeed a sustainable change is taking place. M &E is becoming a necessity and essential activity in organizational development and project interventions supporting organizational performance and lesson learning. This transformation that is taking place in the profession of M & E, is putting new demands and requirements on the evaluator. For enabling the delivery of quality evaluations, the evaluator requires:
- Good communication and facilitation skills;
- Knowledge and experience in using and applying social media and internet tools;
- Experience in applying wide diversity of evaluation tools. Knows how to collect and analyse statistical data complemented by video or visual methods;
- Didactical skills in explaining concepts and practices about M & E;
- Leadership skills to facilitate mid-term reviews or evaluations involving local staff and beneficiaries;
- Expertise to encourage exchange about ‘benchmarks’ or ‘best practices’ in the domain the evaluator is doing his evaluation.
Evaluation becomes ownership driven. The project implementing organisation is the driver in its own M & E process. The evaluator is moving from an expert to an expert having facilitating and communication skills as a key requirement.