Improving/Coordinating Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) in CU Malwi is all about working in a complex system that IMO requires a Participatory Action Research (PAR) approach.
There are approximately 22 people involved in M&E over roughly 16 projects with around 10 partner agencies and 23 donor organisations. The approximations are because there are projects with separately funded sub projects, projects funded by multi-donors and people are always on the move. My first step was to interview as many of those involved in M&E as I could regarding the state of M&E in their project. My questions were framed around six elements of M&E (LogFrame, Indicators, Data base, Data Collection tools, Data Collection Process and Reporting). There was an additional three relating to performance (Challenges, Strengths and Fitness for Purpose). I took all the answers to each of these questions, stripped the authors & projects, and roughly ranked them from ‘good’ to ‘bad’.
I then sent this out asking for impressions about the state of each M&E element in CU. I got 2 responses. Unfortunately I didn’t realise that this was a really busy reporting time of year, thus when I ran a workshop to get more responses, despite attendance confirmations only 4 people attended. Furthermore, the non-attendees included the three most senior project M&E staff. In the workshop I included the comments from the first two, and thus effectively I got a response that involved all six. This means my engagement is from only 6/22 stakeholders.
So…. an Action Research Question.
The participants have provided what looks to me a like a quite realistic and sensible analysis of the ‘State of M&E in CU’ but it has been generated by only a minority of stakeholders. What to do next? My inclination is to ‘publish and be damned’ i.e. publish the results and see what happens. My rational mind though says that I need to keep it all in the ‘groan zone’ a bit more to allow greater dialogue and inclusion. Options I’ve been considering:
1) I could try and organise a repeat meeting & invite only those that did not contribute before.
2) Maybe there is some intermediate step I could invent around which I could invite all to attend (at a more convenient time) which still honours the work of the earlier ones whilst enabling some backtracking for the others.
3) I could approach individually the three key people to ensure I get their individual responses, and somehow amalgamate what they say with the earlier ones into a coherent response. With this option, would I include none of the work of the first group? all their work? or only their combined reflections?
All four ‘key respondents’ are at different locations approx 300k from each other. Internet and telecoms systems are not capable of conference calls or Skype.
Any ideas & suggestions would be welcome.