Category 6: Monitoring and evaluation
Monitoring and evaluation basics
What are monitoring and evaluation and why are they important?
Monitoring and evaluation provide:
- information on what an intervention is doing, how well it is performing and whether it is achieving its aims and objectives;
- guidance on future intervention activities;
- an important part of accountability to funding agencies and stakeholders.
Plans for monitoring and evaluation should be made at the beginning of an intervention development process.
Monitoring is the regular collection of information about all project activities. It shows whether things are going to plan and helps project managers to identify and solve problems quickly. It keeps track of project inputs and outputs such as:
- reporting and documentation;
- finances and budgets;
- supplies and equipment.
Monitoring is an ongoing activity that should be incorporated into everyday project work.
An evaluation asks whether a project is achieving what it set out to do, and whether it is making a difference. If this is happening the evaluation seeks to understand how and why the intervention has worked so well. If the project is unsuccessful, questions are raised as to what could have been done better or differently. Evaluations thus keep track of key outcomes and impacts related to the different project components, assessing whether the objectives, aims and goals are being achieved.
Evaluations take place at specific times during interventions. It is common to start with baseline research near the beginning of an intervention so as to obtain information with which subsequent changes can be compared. Further evaluations are usually made at intervals of between two and three years.
Who should be involved in monitoring and evaluation?
Monitoring is routinely carried out by project staff, project partners and peer educators as they keep track of their work.
Evaluations can be performed by external agencies or by project staff, peer workers and stakeholders, or by a combination of the latter three groups and external agencies. External involvement lends technical expertise and objectivity to evaluations. However, the use of project staff and peer networks in an evaluation builds their capacity and provides a sense of ownership of the results. Moreover, the familiarity of peer workers and project staff with the sex work context may lead to a more realistic picture of an intervention, and informants may be more willing to talk openly with project workers than to outsiders. A combination of the two approaches can provide the most useful information.