An analysis of the purposes and uses of monitoring and evaluation within NGOs : a case study of the Centre for Criminal Justice (CCJ).
This study aimed to critically analyze the purposes and uses of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) within NGOs. It proceeded from the criticisms often levelled against M&E with regards to its relevance and its numerous failures. Moreover, if development programme interventions are already justified through useful services rendered to beneficiaries, what impact does development assistance projects like M&E have in the lives of individual beneficiaries of these programmes, especially considering the fact that significant resources and time are expended on M&E? Prompted by this question, the study investigated the strengths and challenges experienced by NGOs in using M&E in programme implementation. Given the numerous and diverse definitions of M&E and its diversity in practice among organizations, it was necessary to carry out the investigation through a case study; using a qualitative research method. The Centre for Criminal Justice (CCJ) was chosen for the case-study, given its history of the use of M&E in its outreach programme implementation. A semi-structured interview was used to gather data from a sample of seven members of the organization from different levels, ranging from management, the evaluator, head office staff and implementation staff who are either directly or indirectly involved in a vital way in the M&E process. This was to solicit diverse and in-depth responses from different perspectives on the purposes and uses of M&E within the organization. Findings revealed that the organization has institutionalized a well-structured, top-down and ongoing monitoring process to gather data daily from the services provided by the implementation staff. It also boasts an ongoing M&E system that follows the three-year cycle of the programme. This is besides other M&E related research carried out in the organization. The study found that some of those involved in the M&E process within CCJ have little or no understanding of the role of M&E within the organization. The implementation staff, for instance, who gather routine monitoring data, were found not to understand the full significance of their services to the M&E and development process as a whole. Beneficiaries were found not to understand the role of M&E within the organization and the impact it has on the services which they receive. The implications of such lack of knowledge to the development process is based on the assertion that the ‘objectives of social development programmes should be to help the indigenous communities or underprivileged groups (such as women, landless labourers, ...) develop the organizational capacity and knowledge needed to identify and satisfy their own needs’ (Valadez & Bamberger 1994: 9). In other words, if their participation should have more relevant outcomes, they need to be aware of what they are engaged in. This is a precondition for sustainable development and ownership of the development process. When this is lacking, there can be resistance or poor participation in the process and the threat of paternalism. The dilemma is that M&E is very technical.