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Why Monitoring and Evaluation Matters Even More in FCV Settings: The GEI Approach

Syrian refugee children inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp, Jordan.
Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) may seem a superfluous worry in times of fragility and conflict. The complexity and urgency of issues that countries with such challenges face are overwhelming. When the focus is on helping get food to the hungry, providing basic services to displaced populations, or restoring peace and dealing with the devastating consequences of war, how important could it be to focus on M&E?

Anna Aghumian (PhD in Government)  is a senior evaluation officer at the Independent Evaluation Group, World Bank Group and the Global Evaluation Initiative.

Why Monitoring and Evaluation Matters Even More in FCV Settings: The GEI Approach

Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) may seem a superfluous worry in times of fragility and conflict. The complexity and urgency of issues that countries with such challenges face are overwhelming. When the focus is on helping get food to the hungry, providing basic services to displaced populations, or restoring peace and dealing with the devastating consequences of war, how important could it be to focus on M&E? It is actually very important.

Public institutions working in FCV contexts need to make important decisions – many with critical consequences - and M&E systems can be an important mechanism to inform this decision-making. Effective M&E approaches help deliver evidence on what is working - helping entities respond quickly, prioritize resources, and course correct as needed. Policies and programs designed to overcome poverty, create socio-economic opportunities, and achieve national and sustainable development goals can be more effective when there is a feedback loop.

However, strong M&E systems can have an even deeper impact on countries that are marred by fragility, conflict, and violence. Effective M&E systems can foster good governance by providing channels for transparency and accountability, and ultimately, improve the effectiveness of public institutions, which are critical for delivering the most needed services to their citizens. Moreover, in countries affected by FCV, effective monitoring and evaluation may induce even deeper changes in state-society relations and help rebuild trust and the social contract between the state and citizens.

As can be expected, there are many challenges in building or strengthening M&E systems and capacities in FCV contexts, including highly sensitive political contexts and critical practical and ethical issues. But there is also no paucity of M&E activities in these countries. They are most often driven by humanitarian and development partners and are frequently fragmented, focused only on immediate results, and carried out by international consultants.  These approaches, while often necessary and important, do not contribute to strengthening local institutional capacities and systems.

Figures about countries with FCV

 

GEI’s Efforts on Building Sustainable M&E Systems and Capacities in FCV Contexts

In line with its mission, GEI will focus on monitoring and evaluation issues in fragile, conflict and violence contexts to support the improvement of M&E systems and build local capacity in those settings.

This will require sharpening the focus of GEI’s implementing partners on countries affected by fragility and conflict as well as forging and enhancing links with other development and humanitarian actors, research institutions and academia with strategic interest in improving M&E capacities in FCV countries.

Many development partners invest in improving the accountability for results and supporting good governance in fragile, conflict, and violence contexts. However, more can be done to harmonize approaches to monitoring and evaluation in fragile situations to strengthen national capacity in M&E. In this context, GEI will seek opportunities to foster cross fertilization of knowledge among development and humanitarian M&E practices.

In FCV countries, where often there is a low demand and space for institutionalization of M&E, GEI intends to support not only technical capacity, but also improve decision makers’ understanding of the importance of evidence and M&E through targeted outreach and trainings. Whenever possible, GEI will also nurture partnerships with M&E champions beyond government (i.e., civil society, research/academic institutions, and Voluntary Organizations for Professional Evaluators) to improve the demand for better evidence and accountability.

GEI aims to work at the global, regional, and country levels to:

  • Support national M&E systems in FCV countries by proactively seeking opportunities to build and strengthen legal, regulatory, and institutional frameworks through country-level partnerships.  GEI will strategically select and cultivate partnerships with several FCV countries where it will be working with a diverse set of actors to support strengthening the M&E systems through diagnostic work, targeted technical assistance, and trainings.  To start with, GEI will pilot an application of its MESA tool in an FCV context and customize it to ensure that this diagnostic tool adequately captures M&E challenges these countries face.  
  • Strengthen individual and institutional M&E capacities in FCV countries, by ensuring that FCV-sensitive approaches in M&E are mainstreamed in trainings and professional development activities funded by GEI. We also intend to expand the access of participants from FCV locations to the trainings offered by GEI partners through scholarships. We will also facilitate the participation of young and emerging evaluators from FCV locations in other professional development opportunities, such as through GEI’s Global Internship Program, which will be launched later this year. Additionally, GEI will support expanding the use of innovative M&E solutions in FCV situations and build local capacity in countries affected by FCV for using new digital tools of data collection, analysis, and evaluation.
  • Promote knowledge exchange and collaboration for development and humanitarian partners to share good practice methodologies and tools in M&E, with an aim to improve and harmonize the M&E approaches in FCV contexts. GEI will also establish a resource center on its knowledge platform dedicated to these issues and ensure that GEI-sponsored knowledge sharing and learning events (i.e., gLocal Evaluation Week) adequately address M&E issues relevant to FCV contexts.

In a world still recovering from COVID, the geography of conflict continues to shift from one epicenter to another - shattering peace and security even in countries that have long moved on from fragility or instability. More than ever, development in these contexts requires stronger collaboration among partners on knowledge, strategies, and implementation, and this applies to monitoring and evaluation as well.  M&E systems should not be an afterthought that can be built when things are getting better. Sound M&E systems should be in place to help nurture and strengthen the institutions that are critical for setting countries on the track for peace and prosperity.


Please join us! Comment on this blog or reach out to us on social media: LinkedIn and Twitter.  What has been your experience with M&E in FCV contexts? Share your stories with us.  

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If you would like to contribute your knowledge to this blog, we would be happy to work with you - please contact us at contactgei@globalevaluationinitiative.org.

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