To deliver public services and goods effectively and efficiently, international organizations, governments, foundations, and NGOs need to learn from their experiences and create accountability for their achievements. The notion of Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) involves tracing whether activities are on track and delivering results. M&E identifies innovative practices and weak spots, and seeks ways to address the latter.
At GPPi, we help to develop M&E systems. We also conduct evaluations, typically about the policies, strategies, and setup of organizations. Evaluations are about helping organizations improve. Failure occurs when an evaluation lands in the drawer. We try to avoid this by designing evaluations together with our clients. We involve key stakeholders throughout the entire process. We approach each subject with an open mind and use state-of-the-art methods to ensure the findings are credible. We work with those concerned to refine recommendations and make sure they fit their organizational realities. We write as clearly as we can, and we do not stop once the report is submitted, but come back to discuss results and progress in implementing recommendations.
Monitoring & Evaluation in Volatile Environments
M&E is especially challenging in volatile environments. The situation can change from one day to the next. People work under difficult circumstances. The pressure to show results is high. And it can be very difficult for staff and evaluators to gain access to field locations. From implementing evaluations ourselves, for example in Yemen and Haiti, we have learned that evaluators need a light footprint and should focus on the operational needs of actors on the ground.
We are now undertaking a longer-term research project on M&E in insecure environments. We will work with humanitarian organizations in Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan and Syria to understand how their M&E systems work and what specific challenges they face. We then want to look for innovative M&E solutions that could help address these challenges, including solutions based on information communication technologies such as satellites, GPS devices, mobile phones or crowdsourcing. While working on M&E solutions, we also want to reflect more broadly on what kinds of M&E systems are adequate in volatile environments.
Evaluating Governance and Partnerships
Governance as well as partnerships between different types of organizations are the founding themes of GPPi. How to manage relationships is becoming increasingly important in the development and humanitarian fields as more actors become active in these areas. We have extensively evaluated a coordination system for humanitarian assistance – the cluster approach. Our evaluations show that having clear responsibilities and capacities for coordination has apparent benefits. There is, however, a risk that coordination mechanisms get over-burdened with bureaucratic processes that take up too much time and add too little to emergency responses.
We have also analyzed partnership policies and find that global organizations should place a higher priority on getting cooperation with organizations based in partner countries right. It is important to stay pragmatic, make sure both sides benefit directly from the cooperation, and manage risks carefully, rather than partnering for the sake of partnering.
Developing M&E Systems and Guidance
There is an abundance of M&E approaches, tools and indicators available. We have tried to support organizations in finding out what the right tools and approaches are for their activities and needs. We have been helping individual institutions such as the UN country team in Somalia and the German Foreign Office develop their M&E approaches. We recommend not being limited to positivist methods, but to also embrace innovative, even experimental, tools that prioritize stakeholder participation and keep up with dynamic environments.
Further, we have contributed to the development of evaluation approaches. We believe, for example, that real-time evaluations in the humanitarian field need to be quick, light and focused on the operational interests of aid organizations on the ground. Our compendium of methods for assessing aid efficiency suggests realistic practices for efficient evaluations.
Funding & Clients
Our funders and clients include the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the European Commission Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (DG ECHO), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the UK Department of International Aid (DFID) and the German Foreign Office.
by Rahel Dette, Julia Steets, Elias Sagmeister
by Elias Sagmeister, Julia Steets
by Lotte Ruppert, Elias Sagmeister, Julia Steets
by Rahel Dette, Julia Steets
Humanitarian Practice Network
by Julia Steets, Antonio Galli, James Darcy, Kai Koddenbrock
World Food Programme Office of Evaluation
by Andrea Binder, Philipp Rotmann
Study commissioned by the Policy Planning Unit of the German Federal Foreign Office
by Elias Sagmeister, Susanna Krüger
Journal of MultiDisciplinary Evaluation, 10 (23)
by Andrea Binder, Urban Reichhold
Global Responsibility to Protect, 6 (2)
by Urban Reichhold, Andrea Binder, Norah Niland
UK Department for International Development (DFID)