Unlocking potential through monitoring and evaluation
About the author: Laura Brooks is an analyst working in the developmental economics space at Genesis Analytics, an economics consulting company based in South Africa.
Providing insights from the Financial Education Fund
In 2008, UK DfID established the £4m Financial Education Fund (FEF), which funded 15 financial education projects across eight countries in sub-Saharan Africa for a period of just over three years. A unique feature of the FEF was that it required grantees to conduct rigorous monitoring and evaluation (M&E) as a core operational component of the funded projects. Drawing on insights gained from the management of the FEF, the session entitled “Understanding Evaluation Methods for Financial Education Interventions in Africa”, presented by Alyna Wyatt (Genesis Analytics) and Jasmine Thomas (Citi Foundation) will interactively explore strategic approaches to monitoring and evaluating.
Why undertake M&E for each intervention?
M&E allows stakeholders to closely observe the effectiveness of an intervention right from the initial design phases and to adapt the programme as insights emerge throughout the implementation. This enhances our ability to ensure relevance and impact right from the word go, and greatly increases the likelihood that an intervention will achieve its intended objectives and have the greatest possible impact. M&E also enables practioners to show donors evidence of the impact that their spending is having, and, more broadly, to contribute to the establishment of best practices, which will benefit future interventions in turn.
The key to effective M&E
There are various methodologies and approaches to designing and implementing M&E processes on any given intervention, ranging from highly rigorous, statistically significant, to more participative and developmental qualitative approaches. The specifics of a broad range of these will be explored in the conference session, with tips and best practices for applying each of them. The key lesson that we would like to share from the FEF, however, is that the most appropriate and effective methodology is not necessarily the most statistically rigorous one. Further, different methodologies are not mutually exclusive of one another, and often serve to compliment and deepen learning extracted from an intervention. Indeed the most important lesson is that evaluation approaches need to be flexible and sensitive to the specific features and circumstances of each intervention.
M&E is sorely lacking
Monitoring and evaluation are far too frequently overlooked as vital processes required for the effective and measurable implementation of developmental interventions. Often, an impact evaluation is an afterthought, and sometimes, by that stage, the budget has already been exhausted. In cases like these, vital learning opportunities are being missed.
Keeping up with the trends
M&E is emerging strongly as a best practice in developmental interventions. The benefits and opportunities presented by these activities speak for themselves.