Third-Party Monitoring (TPM) describes the practice of contracting third parties to collect and verify monitoring data. In insecure contexts, aid actors primarily use TPM to monitor the activities of partner organizations in places where their own staff faces access restrictions.
This paper summarizes the main findings and recommendations of the SAVE research program on TPM, based on interviews with commissioning agencies, TPM providers and donors as well as a review of literature.
By strengthening compliance in places where access is limited, TPM can meaningfully contribute to the broader monitoring and evaluation toolbox, with benefits for both donors and aid agencies. For donors, TPM offers an option to verify monitoring information from partners. Ideally, this should complement rather than entirely substitute for monitoring conducted by an agency’s own staff.
For aid agencies, TPM can provide a source of primary field data to inform programming and help verify partner reporting. However, as with donors, agencies should aim to do as much of their own monitoring as possible. TPM is most useful as a last resort measure or as a complement to internal monitoring and verification approaches by the recipient agencies. With this in mind, aid agencies should limit their primary reliance on monitoring by third parties to exceptional areas with constrained access. The practice of TPM is far from fully established, too: it needs to be regularly reassessed, and options for internalizing monitoring should be regularly re-evaluated. To facilitate as much of their own monitoring as possible, Third-Party Monitoring should always be supported by acceptance-building measures and community feedback systems, as well as transparent communication with communities (beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries) overall.
SAVE is a three-year research program that explores how to provide effective and accountable humanitarian aid in insecure contexts.
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