Monitoring and evaluation

Learning note

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This Note relates to KSF6: Innovation, Learning and Knowledge Management
Version: January 2008

Core issues

  • For monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems to be meaningful, several underpinning conditions for system design must be fulfilled:
    • All stakeholders must be involved, and their information needs specifically addressed. Ownership, especially in-country, is essential.
    • M&E should be seen as a key management tool to track implementation progress and improve project planning for impact rather than an exercise in data collection.
    • Unnecessary complications should be avoided. Simpler M&E systems tend to be more effective systems.
    • Formulation Reports of all investment projects should include a summary of the M&E plan, which should be supported by details in an Annex.   There should be a direct link between the project’s logical framework and the M&E plan.
    • Balance between quantitative indicators and qualitative information is necessary at all levels. A small set of objective, quantifiable indicators should provide the base of evidence around which qualitative information can complete the explanatory framework. That balance is illustrated in the figure below.

    Monitoring results and impact

    • Keeping track of project implementation and what has been achieved is important. In the end, what may make the most difference is how people interact, how ideas are shared, and how people are motivated to contribute.  Rural people’s aspirations and their own development processes are at the heart of M&E.

    Key tasks for design and review

    The narrative M&E plan in the Main Report and associated Annex should:

    • Describe means and responsibilities for data collection and use, including participatory M&E, and estimate personnel needs for implementation (with training for managers as needed);
    • Specify the use of M&E by project managers for reporting implementation progress, and discuss the ways in which the M&E system will contribute to planning for improved project impact;
    • Explain how those who will gather and use M&E information will have a voice in refining the M&E system, indicators and decision-making;
    • Adequately incorporate the IFAD Results and Impact Management System (RIMS) guidelines;
    • Make coherent distinction 1st level results (outputs), 2nd level results (outcomes) and impact;
    • Establish a balance between quantitative indicators and qualitative information at all levels;
    • Ensure the narrative M&E Plan is fully consistent with the logical framework.

    The project Logical Framework should (subject to additional IFAD guidance on logical frameworks):

    • State anchor indicators of impact for all projects;
    • Match 1st level results (outputs) and 2nd level results (outcomes) to project activities and processes (see RIMS doc. para. 12, Annex Table 1);
    • Specify the means and sources of verification for indicators (such as rural financial institutions for savings and credit data, and representative household surveys for anchor indicators of impact).

    Project cost tables should include an M&E sub-component under project management, with appropriate line items (such as personnel, field visits for regular monitoring, the three impact surveys, etc.).  M&E costs should generally approximate 3 - 5% of the project budget.

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