Author: Lahai Conteh, Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator
At OneVillage Partners our Monitoring and Evaluation strategy is participatory and inclusive. This means that program participants are involved in deciding the metrics by which we measure our programs, as well as the collection of the data and in the sharing of results. OneVillage Partners uses a mixed-methods approach, where we take into account both the qualitative and quantitative, allowing for results to inform the continuously adapting programs that we implement. In this month’s blog, Lahai Conteh, Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator gives an overview of how our process works!
Before any OneVillage Partners program begins in a community our staff meet with the relevant village authorities. Following this meeting, we conduct a baseline survey, in order to learn about the new community that we have partnered with. During this survey we aim to learn about housing, schools, health care, water, sanitation and hygiene, businesses and the social conditions of the village. We ask village authorities and community members to guide us through this process. Once we have analyzed this data, we promptly share the results back to the community, providing the evidence communities need in order to be able to prioritize their needs and develop a project.
Once communities have developed their projects, we work with community volunteers to establish the key monitoring areas to assess the sustainability of the projects. We then train these volunteers so they are able to conduct the surveys themselves through a picture-based monitoring workbook that we develop with a local artist. We believe that involving community members in monitoring encourages community ownership over projects. This in turn inspires a culture of maintenance of the project that is integral to long term sustainability.
In the Nurturing Opportunities for Women (NOW) program, we begin with a baseline survey of the new cohort of participants. Throughout the program, we conduct Home Visits, where coordinators meet with participants individually in their homes and assess their progress. At the end of the program we conduct an endline survey, comparing these results against the original baseline to see the impact the program has had on participants. When sharing results from our NOW surveys with community members, men are often shocked to find out how much women have felt gender discrimination in their daily lives. It’s another example of how we have seen our participatory monitoring truly empower.
Through a highly participatory survey called The Bristol Stool Chart we have been able to monitor the prevalence of diarrhea in communities both before and after the implementation of their latrine project. In this survey, a random sample of community members are invited to select their most recent bowel movement from a series of images depicted on a tablet. We worked closely with partnered communities to develop this survey, as we understand that such a sensitive topic can be awkward. Participants’ readiness to be involved is a mark of the trusting relationship we have developed with communities. Being able to share the results of such a survey is about more than just being transparent, it is also educational. When a community such as Madina learns that the diarrhea rate has dropped from 30% to 9% they see the value in using and maintaining their latrines.
As we aim not just to understand the numbers that support our programs, but the words and feelings of all those affected by our work, we ask people to tell us stories. Through these stories of Most Significant Change (MSC) we are able to learn how our programs and the work of community members are transforming the lives. (Click here for more information on how we learn through stories of Most Significant Change.)
At OneVillage Partners, we view monitoring and evaluation as an interactive process; sharing our findings with community members, and also asking community members to share their stories with us. The findings also lead to real-time developments in programming and implementation strategies. In this way we are able to learn about both the communities we work with, and the effectiveness of our work, in an open, transparent, and ultimately empowering way.