Last time I spoke about the business planning process and M&E’s role in it. It is worth however spending a little more time looking at M&E and planning new interventions.
More often than we would like to admit the results of projects and interventions are not taken into account when new projects are designed. Often this is because data is not shared in a meaningful way, or ownership of the data is in the wrong place. Sometimes the results are not what the NGO wants to hear and are simply ignored or the ‘bad bits’ edited out.
This attitude leads to ‘more of the same’ programming and project design. This can be in the interests of NGOs that rely on limited sources of funding, but ultimately doesn’t help the beneficiaries or the broader society.
NGOs really do need to take notice of the evidence of their previous work and use that evidence to plan future activities. I know this can be tough to implement but in the long run you will find that your organisation is more responsive to your beneficiaries, more integrated into your communities and ultimately, more successful.
Sometimes the evidence from interventions and projects might show you that the work that you are doing is leading your organisation away from the issue or beneficiary group that it was set up to work with. That is always a possible outcome. NGOs shouldn’t be afraid of this kind of change. Remember most NGOs were set up to help solve a problem, not perpetuate their own existence. So if the evidence shows you that the problem is changing, the community is changing or the immediate issue is no longer a problem, then it is right that your organisation examines itself and makes changes accordingly.
How do you use evidence from M&E in the planning of your new projects? Who designs new projects and how does the process in your organisation work? What could be improved?