by Dagny Skarwan
The need to carry out an evaluation in order to discover what results have been achieved by an intervention is appreciated by organisations, projects and the teams responsible for implementing them. In turn, monitoring is often linked to accountability, generally through a weekly or annual report.
Moreover, in the field of NGOs, monitoring is usually understood as reporting activities, in other words, accounting for everything that has been done, within a set period, in relation to the operational plan.
Even when projects have a logical framework or results matrix, and even when they have developed a theory of change, it is not unusual for organisations and local teams to be surprised by the instruments they come across when they start getting involved in participatory monitoring of outcomes and impacts. In this type of monitoring, I usually help teams reflect on how outcomes are measured, how impacts can be recognised and measured, and -from there- recognise the different contributions of the project. Questions also arise concerning the purposes of monitoring that go beyond the need of a project coordinator to provide accountability, and include questions such as where to start when monitoring a project and how to know when it is the right moment to do so.