Monitoring and Evaluation

Monitoring, evaluation and learning systems to prove results, improve performance and document lessons learnt

OUR GUIDING PRINCIPLES ADDRESS ISSUES THAT DRIVE CONTINUOUS PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT AND VALUE-FOR-MONEY

  • The need for positive social, economic and political development is greater than ever, so every pound spent has to count.
  • Systematic or blueprint approaches don’t always work in complex contexts; what’s needed are robust, adaptive learning systems that can rapidly evolve to meet emerging needs
  • The need for rigour and confidence in reported results is vital for good, evidence-based decision-making, accountability and transparency, particularly in complex and multi-sectoral programmes
  • M&E systems must be able to track and show Value-For-Money (VFM) from projects and programmes; but they themselves must also be efficient and effective and deliver VFM data, evidence, reporting and communications
  • M&E results are of little value if they are not (or cannot) be used by decision-makers at various levels. Whether focused on implementation questions or matters of national or international policy, M&E systems must produce the right data, with high confidence, at the right time, in an accessible and easy-to-use form so it will be absorbed and acted on by the appropriate decision-makers.

 

OUR APPROACH

Maxwell Stamp’s M&E approach rests firmly on the solid foundation of its experience in implementing, monitoring and evaluating its large-scale livelihoods, social protection, and social and economic development programmes.  These programmes have driven the development of expertise in highly-focused, rigorous and adaptive M&E systems.  These cover quantitative, qualitative and mixed-methods approaches that aim to answer the right questions with the best evidence available.  MSP’s experience encompasses regular monitoring of programme outputs and outcomes, often in difficult political and geographical circumstances.  We also commission regular studies into specific development-related topics, from poverty coping strategies to women’s empowerment, from profitability of livelihoods choices to sustainability of supported institutions in market systems, and also why some households appeared to benefit more from programme interventions than others.  We have also supported impact evaluations that aim to summarise the genuine changes that development interventions have made to the lives of the extreme poor and other actors.  We understand that different questions are relevant at different levels, and so design and implement all our M&E systems to ensure that all stakeholders get the information they need, so that projects and programmes can continually improve and more effectively help their participants or beneficiaries to improve their lives.

 

LIVELIHOODS AND POVERTY REDUCTION

Livelihoods and poverty reduction interventions must carry out work across a wide variety of disciplines; one household is rarely ‘poor’ in exactly the same way as another.  Thus the M&E systems required to track project progress and impacts must also be highly flexible and adaptive, while maintaining consistently high standards of professional rigour and ethics.  Our highly skilled, experienced and qualified team provides expertise such as: economic analysis; food security and nutrition; water, sanitation and hygiene; market systems development (M4P); social development; and women’s empowerment.  We are at the forefront of developing systems for monitoring and evaluating large, multi-disciplinary livelihoods and markets programmes, as well as social protection, gender  and vulnerability programmes.  Our capabilities include:

  • Developing livelihood- and extreme poverty-focused project and programme M&E systems and plans
  • Designing and managing output and outcome monitoring systems to provide high-confidence data on schedule and on budget
  • Designing studies to illuminate aspects of poverty, social development, economic wellbeing and market systems development
  • Managing and supporting impact evaluations

 

SOCIAL PROTECTION

Social protection programmes aim to support poor and vulnerable groups, including the elderly, people with disabilities and other marginalised groups.  Social protection helps individuals, households and communities to manage risks, respond positively to crises without slipping back into vulnerability, and address extreme poverty.  This requires complex packages of interventions aimed at addressing many of the factors that contribute to extreme poverty and vulnerability.  Thus the M&E systems to show impacts and achievements in social protection interventions must be similarly flexible, adaptive and able to evolve to meet emerging needs.  Our capabilities include:

  • Developing programme and national policy M&E strategies and plans
  • Implementing M&E approaches that convincingly illustrate multiple aspects of extreme poverty reduction as well as changes in vulnerability status
  • Developing and implementing M&E systems in a highly sensitive manner, taking into account the needs of vulnerable groups such as the extreme poor, women, and often-marginalised groups such as people with disabilities.

 

INSTITUTIONAL STRENGTHENING AND CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT

Many complex social and economic issues such as poverty reduction, markets development and women’s empowerment, rest on a foundation of changing ingrained institutional, social or economic behaviours. This requires significant investment in institutional change and strengthening, as well as both organisational and individual capacity development.  However, tracking and reporting the actual outcomes of such investments – whether things actually changed, rather than whether people sat in training workshops – is often challenging.  Our approach targets the multitude of intermediate outcomes that go to make up real personal, organisational or institutional change.  Our capabilities include:

  • Rigorous institutional, organisational and individual capacity assessment
  • Development of institutional, organisational and individual capacity development plans
  • Monitoring and evaluation of critical intermediate development outcomes, taking full account of the local context so that analyses can respond to both visible and hidden behaviours, power structures, relationships and systems

 

SOME SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENTS

  • The Chars Livelihoods Programme in Bangladesh, that completed in mid-2016, was an award-winning flagship programme, working in the remote and difficult-to-access north-western riverine islands of Bangladesh. The innovative, rigorous and comprehensive monitoring, evaluation, research and learning system of this programme cemented its reputation as a benchmark within DFID’s extreme poverty portfolio. Several of its approaches were recognised as best practice, such as its ‘rolling baseline’ approach, and its approach to women’s empowerment “credibly transforms the complex reality of CLP2’s impact on empowerment into an accurate single index”.  CLP’s M&E systems and plans delivered such high-quality data that they were able to be used by the independently-contracted impact evaluation to assess CLP’s impact.
  • The Expanding Social Protection Programme Phase 2 in Uganda aims to roll out the successful achievements of the first Phase, expanding its Senior Citizens’ Grant (old age pension) nationwide, as well as supporting significant institutional and organisational capacity development. We are working with the Government of Uganda to develop the overall national M&E system for the recently launched National Social Protection Policy, which aims to institutionalise the social protection sector in Uganda.
  • The Social Protection and Sustainable Livelihoods Project managed by MSP in Lao PDR for DFAT (Australian Aid) has dual development targets. The first is to work with central and local government to develop capacity and promote the importance of introducing targeted social protection schemes for the needy (e.g. old age pension, school attendance stipends, and disability allowances). The second is to tackle extreme poverty in selected southern districts of the country by introducing and supporting a graduation approach to asset transfer and mentoring. The M&E system developed for these two distinct components necessarily requires very distinct approaches to monitoring, data collection and the production of targeted communication products. Given the scarcity and availability of general M&E experience in the country, MSP is providing an experienced headquarters’ staff as international M&E manager and mentor to the national team members.