M&E in FCAS Contexts: Lessons and Challenges
M&E in FCAS Contexts: Lessons and Challenges
In the realm of international development funding and programming, conducting M&E in fragile and conflict-affected contexts is a necessary and rewarding task. However, it doesn’t come without its own special set of challenges and difficulties. With this in mind, Integrity’s Design Monitoring and Evaluation Manager Kathryn Rzeszut offers some important insights on tackling these drawn from her learnings and findings in the field. Download the full document here.
What were the key lessons learnt from your past experiences working in Monitoring & Evaluation in conflict-affected countries?
KR: The most important lesson I have taken away is the crucial importance of filling key positions on your team with national staff – by which I mean people from the countries we are working in – including field officers, coordinators and managers. It is vital not to merely join forces with national partners exclusively for the purpose of data collection, but to actually hire, directly manage, and build the capacity of national staff. They provide a project with invaluable access to programme sites and a more in-depth understanding of the context. Translating their knowledge into actionable recommendations facilitates the design and implementation of more contextually relevant, conflict-sensitive and therefore ultimately more sustainable and successful programming. Trusted expert staff, who know the nuances of the context should be the foundation of every good programme. Without them, you are more likely to programme and/or monitor blindly, wasting limited human and financial resources.
“By building national capacity, we also help ensure positive impact is more sustainable in a way that often even goes beyond programme objectives… We aim to build a lasting resource that can significantly contribute to the conflict transformation and recovery process.”
What were the key technical problems you encountered in these contexts?
KR: It is a recurring issue across conflict-affected countries that it is extremely challenging and at times, next to impossible to establish a rigorous baseline from which to gather information. This has been particularly the case Syria. For example, we based one of our M&E programmes on an initial sample of eight communities from which to develop in-depth case studies on the outcomes and impact of the programme. At present, only three of them are still viable either due to changes in the conflict or programme suspension. It is important to apply a high degree of flexibility and to come up with creative solutions to these types of technical challenges while still providing rigorous and reliable information.
In the greater scheme of humanitarian and development assistance in conflict, what value do you see in Integrity’s approach?
KR: At Integrity we are committed to grounding our programming in the local context and focus on building local capacity across all geographies we work in. This distinct approach provides us with access to a vast and indispensable wealth of knowledge that if utilised correctly can lead to more relevant and sustainable programming. Our national staff’s expertise is an invaluable resource that clients and their partners can draw on when considering funding programming in conflict – an understanding that is essential for designing, implementing, and monitoring programming in a sustainable and conflict-sensitive way.
By building national capacity, we also help ensure positive impact is more sustainable in a way that often even goes beyond programme objectives. Experienced staff who can draw on their acquired skills and expertise have the potential to help their communities move on from conflict and have a meaningful and positive impact at both the local and national level. We aim to build a lasting resource that can significantly contribute to the conflict transformation and recovery process.
Integrity’s commitment to knowledge sharing further facilitates this process. We work very closely with our clients and their partners to ensure that the lessons we’re learning are being fed back into programme implementation, the institutional knowledge of staff, and ultimately the discourse around best practice for programmes in conflict in the sector.
Kathryn Rzeszut is Integrity’s Design, Monitoring and Evaluation Manager and a conflict and development specialist. Knowledgeable in resilience and development in fragile and conflict-affected states, she was Integrity’s team lead for the ‘Third Party Monitoring and Evaluation of the Integrated Community Security Program (ICSP)’ for the UKCP CSSF, the Danish MFA, and the US State Department CSO in Syria.
To read Integrity’s full document discussing Challenges and Lessons in M&E while operating in the Syrian context with Kathryn, click here.