South Sudan: Community-Led Monitoring Approach

At the American Evaluation Association annual conference held in New Orleans, Vice President of Delivery, Kelly Skeith, and several members of our South Sudan project team, presented our approach to community led monitoring for the USAID/South Sudan Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Support Activity (MELS). Here, Kelly outlines how evaluators can center and support the communities they work with to encourage a more inclusive approach to monitoring and evaluation.

South Sudan continues to experience a protracted emergency. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), some 8.3 million people (more than two-thirds of the population) needed some form of humanitarian assistance and protection in 2021. This comes as the country continues to experience the cumulative effects of years of conflict, a surge in sub-national violence, unprecedented flooding and hyperinflation, all further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some 1.7 million people remain internally displaced.

USAID – one of many active institutional donors – assists the South Sudanese people through a network of implementing partners, delivering a range of interventions across the country. Integrity has long relationships and a strong understanding of the region. Through the MELS activity, Integrity provides a range of services that include monitoring, evaluation and learning technical assistance for the mission and all implementing partners.

Our Approach

In many fragile and conflict affected environments, development partners work to support community resilience to shocks and stressors. Research also shows that conflict and conflict-induced trauma can weaken social cohesion and contribute to social inequities. To maximize impact, resilience interventions focus on building community agency and trust. Unfortunately, many traditional monitoring approaches rely on extractive data collection methods, which provide little feedback to recipient communities.

Under MELS, Integrity and our partner, Management Systems International (MSI), are piloting a participatory monitoring and learning approach to track locally-designed resilience interventions. This approach puts recipient communities at the center of monitoring and learning and builds community agency in development interventions.

The system relies on a network of trusted monitors who are members of the community. Their contextual knowledge and trust are essential. Currently the project engages 26 community monitors in 13 counties. They access community members through existing community engagement mechanisms and work to provide learning and feedback opportunities to all those engaged. Each report through a data collection and visualization tool. This means that the data collected is real time, can support context monitoring and requires less coordination. It also provides ongoing access to communities that is not always available given commons issues like flooding and insecurity.

Through tailored monitoring and evaluation services we aim to continue to enhance USAID Mission programs. Our approach combines the latest in systems thinking to ensure the complexity awareness necessary for volatile contexts and support evidence-based decision making.

Learn more about the USAID/South Sudan Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Support Activity and our Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Services or email us at [email protected] to discuss how we can support your programs.

Recent Posts

Start typing and press Enter to search