What is monitoring and verification?

Monitoring and verification is about observing and accurately documenting if what was intended to happen actually happened and, if not, then why? Although simple in theory, it is far more complicated in practice, especially when working in conflict and post-conflict zones.

Why is it needed in international development now more than ever?

The size, scope and cost of international development programs have increased significantly in Iraq and Afghanistan. Donors and their political overseers, including external auditors like USAID’s Regional Inspector General (RIG) and the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), require more detailed information on how, when and where donor funds were employed and what results were achieved.

This requirement to verify donor program results in the field has migrated to other countries, especially in other fragile states where donors cannot observe program deliverables for themselves.  

Donors require accurate, credible and timely information on their investments. They need to communicate results to their constituents. Sometimes waiting for the findings of performance evaluations and rigorous analyses is not an option. Monitoring and verification allows donors to continuously assess whether projects are achieving desired results. It also provides the necessary foundation for evaluations and assessments.

20150323 How monitoring and verification creates stronger more accountable international development projectsContentReal-time results in conflict and post-conflict countries

Collecting credible and timely information in conflict areas is inherently challenging to donors and implementing partners for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to security, internal capacity, terrain and season/weather. To overcome these challenges, MSI relies on the experience and skills of trained and appropriately equipped local field and office staff supported by expatriate subject matter experts.  

The MSI-implemented Measuring Impacts of Stabilization Initiatives (MISTI) project has conducted 152 on site-verifications since May 2014 across 14 Afghan provinces including Paktiya, Wardak, Baghlan, Kandahar and Helmand. Verifiers are trained to use the open-source Open Data Kit (ODK) Collect mobile application to aggregate and manage field data. At a verification site, the trained Afghan verifiers open a new MISTI ODK verification form and input the project’s Grant ID, record project type, project’s degree of execution and GPS location, take photos with time and date stamps and provide additional comments.

As part of the Conflict Victim's Support Program in the Khyber Pass and FATA regions of Pakistan, we monitor and verify USAID-funded interventions, which include services for the disabled, vocational training and small business grants. We monitor and report on ongoing activities and short-term outcomes, to help USAID and the implementing partner improve their programs and service delivery. Over the course of a year, MSI’s monitoring staff in Pakistan interviewed about 1000 beneficiaries. We also led a verification and validation team for the Office of Food for Peace-supported World Food Program’s Protracted Relief and Recovery Operations (USAID and WFP). We monitored 10 distribution centres and interviewed more than 240 beneficiaries to verify that centres communicated with the targeted beneficiaries, that beneficiaries had ration cards and were given adequate, culturally sensitive (gender-segregated) shelter areas while waiting for rations, and that food aid was indeed administered.

These examples show that while there are challenges in delivering effective monitoring and verification, a technology-based approach using trained professionals can achieve results and provide the certainty a donor needs.

How we can help

Coffey’s International Development team has delivered monitoring and verification services in a range of locations. Its American subsidiary MSI has particular experience in this field.

We offer a selection of tested data collection, verification, analysis and visualization methods that are sensitive to the working environment and the client’s specific monitoring and verification needs. We use our experience in fragile states at combining proven approaches (field versus remote) and applying available technologies, like mobile applications on smartphones for geo-referenced data collection, and emerging technologies, such as aerial and terrestrial sensors operated and maintained by local communities and organizations.

MSI has extensive experience as one of USAID’s primary partners for conducting M&E projects. This enables us to analyse complex circumstances and tailor monitoring, verification and operational plans and schedules to fit donor requirements for project data essential to effective program oversight and identifying lessons learned.

We recognize the increasing need for accurate, comprehensive and timely evidence of program results, especially in countries where donor travel is restricted. As a result, MSI is building and expanding its monitoring and verification capacity to include innovative approaches using available and emerging technologies.

For more information about our capabilities and past performance, please contact Dr. James Weeks at JWeeks@msi-inc.com. If you have questions regarding partnering or business opportunities, please contact Cara Pang-Lee at Cpanglee@msi-inc.com.

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