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Capturing Experience
Monitoring and Evaluation

Included in this section:

Further resources:

Monitoring and Evaluating Urban Development Programs, A Handbook for Program Managers and Researchers. Bamberger, Michael and Hewitt, Eleanor. World Bank Technical Paper no 53. (Washington, D.C.: 1986)
This Handbook “provides guidance on all stages of the design and implementation of a monitoring and evaluation system and presents the main options with respect to scope, key research issues and organization. Monitoring and evaluation systems are described which can be applied to both individual projects and to integrated multi-component urban development programs.” “The unique contribution of the Handbook is to show how approaches taken from the fields of sociology, economics, anthropology, and accountancy can be combined in an integrated monitoring and evaluation strategy” (Bamberger iii).

Monitoring in Retrospect: Reflections on Practical Experience and Recommendations. Abeyrama, Tilakasena and Weber, Karl E. “Studies on Human Settlements Development in Asia” HSD Wrking Paper, 25 (Bangkok: Division of Human Settlements Development, Asian Institute of Technology, 1988)

Projects to look at:
Lusaka Upgrading Project,
Lusaka, Zambia, World Bank.

Monitoring and Evaluation: What Can They Do for Me?
Excerpts from:
Monitoring and Evaluating Urban Development Programs, A Handbook for Program Managers and Researchers. Bamberger, Michael and Hewitt, Eleanor. World Bank Technical Paper no 53. (Washington, D.C.: 1986)


    Monitoring: This type of evaluation is performed while a project is being implemented, with the aim of improving the project design and functioning while in action. An example given in the World Bank Technical Paper, Monitoring and Evaluating Urban Development Programs, A Handbook for Program Managers and Researchers by Michael Bamberger, describes a monitoring study that, by way of rapid survey, was able to determine that the amount of credit in a micro credit scheme for artisans in Brazil was too small. The potential beneficiaries were not participating due to the inadequacy of the loan size for their needs. This information was then used to make some important changes in the project. Bamberger defines it as: “an internal project activity designed to provide constant feedback on the progress of a project, the problems it is facing, and the efficiency with which it is being implemented” (Bamberger 1)

    Evaluation: An evaluation studies the outcome of a project (changes in income, housing quality, benefits distribution, cost-effectiveness, etc.) with the aim of informing the design of future projects. An example from Monitoring and Evaluating Urban Development Programs, A Handbook for Program Managers and Researchers describes an evaluation of a cooperative program in El Salvador that determined that the cooperatives improved the lives of the few families involved but did not have a major impact on overall employment.
    Bamberger describes evaluation as “mainly used to help in the selection and design of future projects. Evaluation studies can assess the extent to which the project produced the intended impacts (increases in income, better housing quality, etc.) and the distribution of the benefits between different groups, and can evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the project as compared with other options” (Bamberger 1).

Monitoring and evaluation need not be expensive or complicated, nor do they require specialists or grand calculations. The complexity and extent of the studies can be adapted to fit the program needs. The job of the project manager in this process is to point out those areas in need of monitoring or evaluation. If this is left to the researchers, the studies may tend to be too academic and not as useful to project management.

Evaluation and monitoring systems can be an effective way to:

    Provide constant feedback on the extent to which the projects are achieving their goals.

    Identify potential problems at an early stage and propose possible solutions.

    Monitor the accessibility of the project to all sectors of the target population.

    Monitor the efficiency with which the different components of the project are being implemented and suggest improvements.

    Evaluate the extent to which the project is able to achieve its general objectives.

    Provide guidelines for the planning of future projects (Bamberger 4).

    Influence sector assistance strategy. Relevant analysis from project and policy evaluation can highlight the outcomes of previous interventions, and the strengths and weaknesses of their implementation.

    Improve project design. Use of project design tools such as the logframe (logical framework) results in systematic selection of indicators for monitoring project performance. The process of selecting indicators for monitoring is a test of the soundness of project objectives and can lead to improvements in project design.

    Incorporate views of stakeholders. Awareness is growing that participation by project beneficiaries in design and implementation brings greater “ownership” of project objectives and encourages the sustainability of project benefits. Ownership brings accountability. Objectives should be set and indicators selected in consultation with stakeholders, so that objectives and targets are jointly “owned”. The emergence of recorded benefits early on helps reinforce ownership, and early warning of emerging problems allows action to be taken before costs rise.

    Show need for mid-course corrections. A reliable flow of information during implementation enables managers to keep track of progress and adjust operations to take account of experience (OED).

Framework for Project Monitoring and Evaluation

Figure 1-1 is a framework for project monitoring and evaluation from the World Bank technical paper: Monitoring and Evaluating Urban Development Programs, A Handbook for Program Managers and Researchers. It breaks down the process into several levels of evaluation.

Evaluation Outputs and the Project Cycle

Table 1-1 explains the various types of evaluation and when they are performed (Monitoring and Evaluating Urban Development Programs, A Handbook for Program Managers and Researchers).

Good Design Has Five Components
Excerpted pieces from:
“Designing Project Monitoring and Evaluation.” Lessons and Practices, no 8. Operations Evaluation Department. 6/1/96
(emphasis added)

Good monitoring and evaluation design during project preparation is a much broader exercise than just the development of indicators. Good design has five components:

1. Clear statements of measurable objectives for the project and its components, for which indicators can be defined.
2. A structured set of indicators, covering outputs of goods and services generated by the project and their impact on beneficiaries.
3. Provisions for collecting data and managing project records so that the data required for indicators are compatible with existing statistics, and are available at reasonable cost.
4. Institutional arrangements for gathering, analyzing, and reporting project data, and for investing in capacity building, to sustain the M&E service.
5. Proposals for the ways in which M&E findings will be fed back into decision making.


1. Project objectives

Projects are designed to further long-term sectoral goals, but their immediate objectives, at least, should be readily measurable. Thus, for example, a health project might be designed to further the sectoral goals of a reduction in child mortality and incidence of infectious diseases, but have an immediate, measurable objective of providing more equitable access to health services. Objectives should be specific to the project interventions, realistic in the timeframe for their implementation, and measurable for evaluation.

India’s District Primary Education Project, for example, set out its objectives at the district level in clear statements linked directly to indicators: Capacity building: District sub-project teams would be fully functional, implementing sub-project activities and reporting quarterly on progress. In-service teams would be functioning, with augmented staff and equipment, providing support for planning and management, teacher in-service training, development of learning materials, and program evaluation. Reducing dropout and improving learning achievement: School/community organizations would be fully functional for at least half the schools, and dropout rates would be reduced to less than 10 percent. Learning achievements in language and mathematics in the final year of primary school would be increased by 25 percent over baseline estimates. Improving equitable access. Enrollment disparities by gender and caste would be reduced to less than 5 percent.

2. Indicators

Input indicators are quantified and time-bound statements of resources to be provided. Information on these indicators comes largely from accounting and management records. Input indicators are often left out of discussions of project monitoring, though they are part of the management information system. A good accounting system is needed to keep track of expenditures and provide cost data for performance analysis of outputs. Input indicators are used mainly by managers closest to the tasks of implementation, and are consulted frequently, as often as daily or weekly.

Examples: vehicle operating costs for the crop extension service; levels of financial contributions from the government or cofinanciers; appointment of staff; provision of buildings; status of enabling legislation.

Process indicators measure what happens during implementation. Often, they are tabulated as a set of contracted completions or milestone events taken from an activity plan.

Examples: Date by which building site clearance must be completed; latest date for delivery of fertilizer to farm stores; number of health outlets reporting family planning activity; number of women receiving contraceptive counseling; status of procurement of school textbooks.

Output indicators show the immediate physical and financial outputs of the project: physical quantities, organizational strengthening, initial flows of services. They include performance measures based on cost or operational ratios.

Examples: Kilometers of all-weather highway completed by the end of September; percentage of farmers attending a crop demonstration site before fertilizer top-dressing; number of teachers trained in textbook use; cost per kilometer of road construction; crop yield per hectare; ratio of textbooks to pupils; time taken to process a credit application; number of demonstrations managed per extension worker; steps in the process of establishing water users' associations.

Impact refers to medium or long-term developmental change. (Some writers also refer to a further class of outcome indicators, more specific to project activities than impact indicators, which may be sectoral statistics, and deal more with the direct effect of project outputs on beneficiaries.) Measures of change often involve complex statistics about economic or social welfare and depend on data that are gathered from beneficiaries. Early indications of impact may be obtained by surveying beneficiaries' perceptions about project services. This type of leading indicator has the twin benefits of consultation with stakeholders and advance warning of problems that might arise.

Examples of impact: (health) incidence of low birth weight, percentage of women who are moderately or severely anemic; (education) continuation rates from primary to secondary education by sex, proportion of girls completing secondary education; (forestry) percent decrease in area harvested, percent increase in household income through sales of wood and non-wood products. Examples of beneficiary perceptions: proportion of farmers who have tried a new variety of seed and intend to use it again; percentage of women satisfied with the maternity health care they receive.

3. Collecting Data and Managing Project Records

The achievement of project objectives normally depends on how project beneficiaries respond to the goods or services delivered by the project. Evidence of their response and the benefits they derive requires consultation and data collection that may be outside the scope of management. It is important to identify how beneficiaries are expected to respond to project services, because managers will need evidence of that response if they are to modify their activities and strategy. Indications that beneficiaries have access to, are using, and are satisfied with project services give early indication that the project is offering relevant services and that direct objectives are likely to be met. Such evidence - market research - may be available sooner and more easily than statistics of impact such as changes in health status or improvements in income. Market research information is an example of a leading indicator of beneficiary perceptions that can act as a proxy for later, substantive impact. Other leading indicators can be identified to give early warning about key assumptions that affect impact. Examples would include price levels used for economic analysis, passenger load factors in transport projects, and adoption of healthcare practices. When planning the information needs of a project there is a difference between the detail needed for day-to-day management by the implementing agency or, later, for impact evaluation, and the limited number of key indicators needed to summarize overall progress in reports to higher management levels.

For example, during construction of village tubewells, project managers will need to keep records about the materials purchased and consumed, the labor force employed and their contracting details, the specific screen and pump fitted, the depth at which water was found, and the flow rate. The key indicators however, might be just the number of wells successfully completed and their average costs and flow rates.

Exogenous indicators are those that cover factors outside the control of the project but which might affect its outcome, including risks (parameters identified during economic, social, or technical analysis, that might compromise project benefits); and the performance of the sector in which the project operates. Concerns to monitor both the project and its wider environment call for a data collection capacity outside the project and place an additional burden on the project’s M&E effort. A recent example of a grain storage project in Myanmar demonstrates the importance of monitoring risk indicators. During project implementation, policy decisions about currency exchange rates and direct access by privately owned rice mills to overseas buyers adversely affected the profitability of private mills. Management would have been alerted to the deteriorating situation had these indicators of the enabling environment been carefully monitored. Instead, a narrow focus on input and process indicators missed the fundamental change in the assumptions behind the project. The relative importance of indicators is likely to change during the implementation of a project, with more emphasis on input and process indicators at first, shifting to outputs and impact later on. This is a distinction between indicators of implementation progress and indicators of development results.

Data collection Project field records. Indicators of inputs and processes will come from project management records originating from field sites. The quality of record keeping in the field sets the standard for all further use of the data and merits careful attention. M&E designers should examine existing record-keeping and the reporting procedures used by the project authorities to assess the capacity to generate the data that will be needed. At the same time, they should explain how and why the indicators will be useful to field, intermediate, and senior levels of project management. The design of field records about, say, farmers in extension groups, people attending a clinic, or villagers using a new water supply, will affect the scope for analysis later. The inclusion of simple socioeconomic characteristics such as age and sex may significantly improve the scope for analysis. A good approach is to structure reporting from the field so that aggregates or summaries are made at intermediate stages. In this way, field staff can see how averages or totals for specific villages or districts enable comparisons to be drawn and fieldwork improved.

Surveys and studies. To measure output and impact may require the collection of data from sample surveys or special studies (including, where appropriate, participatory methods). Studies to investigate specific topics may call for staff skills and training beyond those needed for regular collection of data to create a time series. Where there is a choice, it is usually better to piggyback project-specific regular surveys on to existing national or internationally supported surveys than to create a new data collection facility. Special studies may be more manageable by a project unit directly, or subcontracted to a university or consultants. If the special studies are to make comparisons with data from other surveys it is vital that the same methods be used for data collection (see below). In the project plan, proposals to collect data for studies should include a discussion of: the objectives of the study or survey; the source of data; choices and proposed method of collection; and likely reliability of the data.

Data comparability. Some desired indicators of impact, such as mortality rates, school attendance, or household income attributable to a project, may involve comparisons with the situation before the project, or in areas not covered by the project. Such comparisons may depend on the maintenance of national systems of vital statistics, or national surveys. Before data from such sources are chosen as indicators of project impact the designer needs to confirm that the data systems are in place and reliable and that the data are valid for the administrative area in question and for any control areas. Potential problems in making comparisons with existing data include incomplete coverage of the specific project area; the use of different methods to collect data, such as interviewing household members in one survey and only household heads in another; and changes in techniques such as measuring crop output in one survey and collecting farmers’ estimates in another. Problems such as these can invalidate any comparison intended to show changing performance. To give the comparability needed for evaluation, study proposals should explain and justify the proposed approach and ensure consistency in methods. The complexity of the statistics and problems of attributing causality mean that often it is more appropriate to use the delivery of services and beneficiary response as proxy indicators than to attempt to measure impact.

Participatory methods of data collection can bring new insights into peoples’ needs for project planning and implementation, but are no less demanding on skills than questionnaire surveys. They are time-consuming and require substantial talent in communication and negotiation between planners and participants.

4. Institutional arrangements; capacity building

Good M&E should develop the capacity of the borrower and build on existing systems. Capacity building is widely acknowledged to be important but is often poorly defined. It means: upgrading skills in monitoring and evaluation, which include project analysis, design of indicators and reporting systems, socioeconomic data collection, and information management; improving procedures, to create functional systems that seek out and use information for decisions; and strengthening organizations to develop skilled staff in appropriate positions, accountable for their actions.

5. How Monitoring and Evaluation Findings Can Be Fed Back into Decision Making

In projects where operating performance standards are quoted as an objective, or where decentralized processes call for localized capacity to plan and manage work programs and budgets, designers will need to describe how and when M&E findings will be used to shape work plans and contribute to program or policy development. In Mexico, for example, the Second Decentralization and Regional Development Project plans to incorporate monitoring of implementation into its regular management procedures. Annual plans are to be prepared for each component, including an element of institutional development, and these will form the basis of annual monitoring. The analysis of implementation will depend on the functioning of a central database about sub-projects, created in each state from standardized data sheets. The database will produce the reports required for the project approval procedures, giving an incentive to field staff to use the system. Results from the implementation database will be analyzed in order to target field reviews and a mid-term review. The project has no specific monitoring and evaluation unit. Instead, each management sub-unit responsible for technical oversight of a component is responsible for ensuring the quality and timeliness of data collection, and for producing and analyzing reports. These reports will be presented by project component and be used to help diagnose technical and institutional implementation issues, propose and conduct studies, and plan institutional development and training.

Experience with Implementation

Even with a good design for M&E, the Bank’s experience shows that success during implementation depends heavily on a sense of ownership by the borrower, adequate capacity in borrower institutions, and sustained interest from the task and project managers throughout the life of the project. Two factors are important here. One is that the borrower’s sense of ownership of the project provides a stimulus to transparent management and good information about progress. The other is that often borrowers doubt the value of adopting what may be costly and time consuming procedures to collect, analyze, and report information. In such circumstances sound design is especially important, with monitoring information providing a clear input to management decision making and, often, an emphasis on the early gains to be had from monitoring and on institutional procedures that encourage the use of monitoring data to trigger further implementation decisions.

Suggested reading:

Appleton, Simon, “Problems in Measuring Changes in Poverty over Time,” IDS Bulletin Vol. 27 No 1, 1996. Brighton, UK: Institute for Development Studies. Casley, Dennis J. and Krishna Kumar, Project Monitoring and Evaluation in Agriculture. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 1987. Operations Evaluation Department, World Bank, “Building Evaluation Capacity”, Lessons & Practices No. 4, November 1994. - “Monitoring and Evaluation Plans in Staff Appraisal Reports in fiscal year 1995”. Report No. 15222, December 1995.

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