MESA Diagnostic Tool

MESA diagnostic tool
In line with its objective to continue to strengthen monitoring and evaluation systems and practices globally, the Global Evaluation Initiative (GEI) has developed a key diagnostic tool. Called the Monitoring and Evaluation Systems Analysis (MESA), the tool is a comprehensive and detailed guidance for facilitating the analysis of existing national monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems and capacities. It is hoped, in addition, that the MESA will inform national strategies for strengthening country M&E systems and contribute to the enhanced
use of evidence in policy making.


GEI believes that effective policy making builds on a culture of evidence-based decision making. This, in turn, relies on a country’s M&E systems. In order for countries to strengthen their M&E systems, it is important to first understand the current situation of these systems in a country – both de jure and de facto – and the prevailing economic, political, and social environment. Before new models for M&E and capacity-development strategies are developed, there needs to be a sound understanding of the current formal and informal M&E elements and processes. There also needs to be a good understanding of how policy makers view national M&E practices with respect to decision making. Gaining a solid understanding of a country’s M&E systems is an important first step to understanding needs, priorities, and potential pathways for strengthening those systems.

Conducting a MESA allows governments and civil society and its development partners to build a mutual understanding of how the national M&E system functions and to identify opportunities to further strengthen capacities. If led by a GEI partner, a MESA can serve as an “ice breaker” for an initial engagement in the country. Building trust is essential for a longer-term partnership, as is having a mutual understanding of any shortcomings in the M&E system, as well as the opportunities that exist for strengthening the system. Drawing on good practices from countries around the world also forms part of the overall exercise. Other core principles include country ownership, learning, partnership, flexibility, and the need to be objective and credible


The main objective of a MESA as a diagnostic tool is to inform governments’ evaluation capacity-development (ECD) strategies and initiatives based on the needs and priorities that have been identified. A MESA is not an end in itself, but rather a means to gather, structure, and analyze information to inform and shape improvements to a country’s M&E systems.

  • The MESA tool is also a guide for the initial engagement by a GEI partner and reflection with a partner country’s government. It helps to generate a common and nuanced understanding of the existing M&E capacities and to identify opportunities for strengthening these capacities.
  • The MESA tool is designed to culminate in a report that can serve as a baseline, and against which follow-up assessments can meaningfully capture change and measure progress.


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