Nowadays, most communities face numerous socio-cultural and economic challenges due to that fact that people in the helms of affairs lack basic management skills. For example, 75% of dwellers of Hargeisa city have been facing serious water scarcity for almost three decades because infrastructural projects with sole objectives of increasing water access to 1.2 million residents have terribly failed. Consequently, these heavily funded interventions rarely significantly achieved their intended results for the populace. Even though the public has scanty information about details, many concerned citizens believe that jointly-held monitoring exercises by relevant stakeholders could have prevented these projects from deviating their path. Robust monitoring helps stakeholders hold projects to account and inform management about the day-to-day operations of their interventions.
Strong routine monitoring puts its primary focus on accountability to stakeholders. Organizations rarely overlook upward accountability to donors and government representing by line ministries by submitting required information to them on periodic basis. Observing the agreed-up-on reporting deadlines, implementing partners submit narrative reports to their donors which detail actions completed and the results achieved in the reporting period. As soon as funders receive and approve the quality of the narrative reports, they usually move to financial reports to assess intervention burning rate which is another yard stick of the project success. In addition, accountability to communities becomes more important issue than ever before. Like private companies, accountable and transparent agencies have now adopted to inform beneficiaries about their entitlements in the projects: objectives, durations and budgets of interventions. As result of this, to fully facilitate two-communication systems between society and institution , community feedback mechanisms such suggestion boxes, help desks and the like should be established whose main objective is to capture and document both complaint and compliments coming from targeted beneficiaries. Monitoring and evaluation personnel then analyze and use the feedback for meeting and exceeding target groups’ expectations. Using customized channels, organizations are accountable to their donors as well their beneficiaries.
Apart from accountability purpose, monitoring also is an indispensable management tool. Monitoring systems are designed to collect, analyze, generate and disseminate information on selected key indicators, so the project teams can easily assess progress against set targets and demonstrate the achievement of the results. Therefore, project managers can easily take immediate corrective actions against off-track indicators and celebrate when the indicators remain on good progress, which is a good indication of a better performing project. Likewise, Monitoring visits to project sites also generate useful insights into project inefficiencies which are common problems during the implementation phase. For example, training payments, which are not processed on time, upsets trainees because they travel back to villages with emptied-handed and very frustrated. Being responsible for preparation this transaction, the lazy project staff does this out of total negligence since neither his supervisor nor another monitoring officer is aware of this. In the same manner, in some of the regular monitoring tasks, qualified monitoring and evaluation staff with strong research skills conducts focus group discussions with a group of 8-10 community members under the threes and explore issues from targeted community viewpoints which is full of interesting and innovative solutions to their problems. Even though having conversation with beneficiaries does not attempt to verify the number of completed activities in the given time, researchers always discover the community level of satisfaction with the services offered and their perceptions on the quality of received services which ultimately helps informed decision making process influencing the policies. Strong monitoring systems are key sources information for senior management teams.
Despite the fact that no one has definitive answers about reasons behind project failures, closely monitoring projects always have high of chance of accomplishing their desired results. Monitoring is mainly performed to makes sure that projects are accountable to various interest groups and provide management with useful and rich information on their undertakings. Hence, management should allocate sufficient costs while budgeting projects, so all monitoring-related activities can be easily executed.
Abdinasir Hussein (Candidate of MA in Monitoring and Evaluation)