Wednesday December 19th, 2018 admin

Monitoring and Evaluation, Impact Evaluation: tired of being confused?

Monitoring and Evaluation, Impact Evaluation: what’s the difference?

This short article will provide you with an insight into the definitions of the terms “monitoring”, “evaluation” and “impact evaluation” and with a list of useful sources to go deeper into the Monitoring and Evaluation theme.

> Monitoring: the definition

To define what monitoring is, we selected the definition given by the OECD DAC Glossary:

Monitoring >>> “a continuing function that uses systematic collection of data on specified indicators to provide management and the main stakeholders of an ongoing development intervention with indications of the extent of progress and achievement of objectives and progress in the use of allocated funds.” >>> (OECD DAC Glossary)

Monitoring goes beyond a simple reviewing process, it is more than checking on the implementation of the project/program activities.
Therefore, if we want to take a step forward, we can say that monitoring focuses on the results of the actions. This feature is underlined by the second definition that we selected from the Handbook on planning, monitoring and evaluating for development results by UNDP.

Monitoring >>> “it can be defined as the ongoing process by which stakeholders obtain regular feedback on the progress being made towards achieving their goals and objectives. Contrary to many definitions that treat monitoring as merely reviewing progress made in implementing actions or activities, this definition (…) focuses on reviewing progress against achieving goals. Monitoring (…) is not only concerned with asking “Are we taking the actions we said we would take?” but also “Are we making progress on achieving the results that we said we wanted to achieve?” (…) >>> (Handbook on planning, monitoring and evaluating for development results, UNDP)

Since it is usually carried out internally, according to our experience, monitoring creates important opportunities for the partners to share and exchange opinions and information. It plays an essential role in strengthening relations within the partnership and in aligning and sharing objectives.

> Evaluation: what is it?

Once again, we selected the definitions given by the two sources we already cited above.

Evaluation >>> The systematic and objective assessment of an on-going or completed project or programme, its design, implementation and results. The aim is to determine the relevance and fulfillment of objectives, development efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability>>> (OECD DAC Glossary)

The fulfillment of objectives, development efficiency and effectiveness are the criteria a mid-term or final evaluation takes into account, while impact and sustainability require a longer period of time to be assessed.
Moreover, the evaluation should be carried out by an external and independent subject. This feature is stressed by the UNDP definition that you can find below.

Evaluation >>> “Evaluation is a rigorous and independent assessment of either completed or ongoing activities to determine the extent to which they are achieving stated objectives and contributing to decision making. Evaluations, like monitoring, can apply to many things, including an activity, project, programme, strategy, policy, topic, theme, sector or organization. The key distinction between the two is that evaluations are done independently to provide managers and staff with an objective assessment of whether or not they are on track.” >>> (Handbook on planning, monitoring and evaluating for development results, UNDP)

There is a widespread misunderstanding concerning the difference between evaluation and impact evaluation, that’s why we will try to clear the air with the following definition.

Impact evaluation >>> “An impact evaluation provides information about the impacts produced by a project/program/policy). “It is a positive and negative, primary and secondary long-term effects produced by a development intervention, directly or indirectly, intended or unintended.” >>> (OECD-DAC 2010)

Therefore, an impact evaluation must establish the cause of observed changes (‘impacts’). This means that an impact evaluation goes beyond describing or measuring impacts but tries to understand the role played by the intervention in producing these (causal attribution).
In order to assess the effects produced by an intervention on the beneficiaries, we should compare the results achieved on the beneficiaries (treatment group) with the results on a group of people with similar features that was not affected by the intervention (control group).

If you want to go deeper into the Monitoring and Evaluation process, you can find below a list of useful sources and links. We will dedicate some of our next articles to a selection of evaluation approaches. To avoid checking the website, subscribe to our newsletter and get the articles straight in your inbox!!! >>>


Evaluation, OECD

Handbook on planning, monitoring and evaluating for development results, UNDP

Glossary of Key Terms in Evaluation and Results Based Management, OECD

Monitoring and Evaluation, some tools methods and approaches, The World Bank 

Monitoring and Evaluation, The World Bank Small Grant Program

Jody Zall Kusek Ray C. Rist, Ten Steps to a Results-Based Monitoring And Evaluation System, OECD

Websites and videos

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