Empowerment: Monitoring & Evaluation
MONITORING AND EVALUATION Monitoring and Evaluation is our method for measuring how we are doing within our goal of “empowering people to rise above poverty.” It would be very easy for Krochet Kids intl. to celebrate our program model and leave it at that. It looks good on paper, maybe I’ve even made it sound good in these last couple blog posts :), but it all boils down to development jargon if we can’t prove that the program is helping change lives. What I’ll share with you today is systems we have put in place to closely track a person's development. We call it our monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system, and it is revolutionizing how we understand the success of our project. First I’ll explain how our M&E program operates and how we measure our successes and failures, and I’ll finish with some of the data that we’ve been collecting over the last couple years. Model: The rationale behind our M&E system is simple: if women in our program are leaving poverty then there should be evidence of this change. By measuring the evidence we get a clear vision to how much life-change is actually happening. This information is crucial to us because we actually want to empower people, not just say we do. For example, if Alice has been working with us for 2 years, yet she hasn't saved a substantial portion of her income -- or we have no record of it -- then she is really no better off. Our M&E system simply measures the extent to which life-change is really happening. To measure this change we start with identifying what poverty is for each of our project locations (poverty in Peru is much different than poverty in Uganda). We do this by finding what we call ‘indicators of poverty.’ Together with our local Board of Advisors we research and work with other local organizations to identify these indicators. We end up with answers such as a low level of income, no savings, children not in school, little food consumption, frequent illness, low self-confidence, and the list goes on. We call this operationalizing poverty because it makes poverty measurable in ways that aren’t possible if you simply ask the question “Are you poor or not?” We track the beneficiary’s progress along many small variables to help us gain a better understanding of her overall progress. For example, if a woman enters into our program and tells us she goes the hospital to treat herself 2 times a month, and 2 years after being in the program she reports that she only goes once every 3 months, we know that she is making progress. Then when we compare this to other variables like how much her savings has grown, how many more meals she is eating per day, whether she has purchased a mosquito net or not, etc., we can then we get a more macro view of whether our program is facilitating change. Methodology: There are two basic components to our M&E system; a baseline assessment and monthly progress reports. Each serves a unique purpose. The Baseline Assessment is crucial to understanding what the beneficiary’s life is like before she enters into the program. We assess the vulnerability of each woman to ensure she is a good candidate for the program, but we find that everyone experiences poverty differently than others. To ensure that we have an accurate starting point for each of our beneficiaries we gather data that is grouped into 152 different topics or variables, and conduct home visits to verify their results. From this data we have a good understanding of where our beneficiaries are currently at and most importantly, we have a foundation to measure any progress against. Monthly Progress Reports are the key to understanding our beneficiaries’ progress throughout the program. Monthly, the mentors sit down with each beneficiary and gather data on 44 different variables. These variables include how much they are saving, how many children they are sending to school, how many meals they are eating per day, whether the are renting or own their home, how diverse their diet is, how often they are falling ill, and how much supplementary income they are earning outside of KKi, to name a few. We measure the variables that tend to be the most indicative of change. Tracking our beneficiary’s progress is important for many different reasons. 1) We get an idea for how well training is working. If a month of training on savings doesn’t result in better savings practices or higher savings levels, we know we need to go back and make the trainings better. 2) We know who is struggling in certain areas. If most of the group is moving towards better savings practices and Mary isn’t, we know we need to provide more consistent mentorship for her. 3) We know when our beneficiaries are ready to leave the program. As we start to see them meet the program goals we know we can start the exit process. After implementing our M&E system, we began to see our programs in new ways. We moved beyond just thinking that the model was a good idea to seeing the ways in which it was actually working. Below is a couple facts to give you a snapshot into some of the amazing life-change that is going on in Uganda. I hope that this encourages you for a two reasons. First, it proves that the model is working. Life-change happens in incredible ways when we invest into women and believe in them enough to give them the reigns of development. Second, I hope you feel confident in knowing that when you buy a Krochet Kids intl. product you actually are helping change lives.
- Average increase in total savings amount (pre-program vs current): 970%
- Diversity of diet: the average number of food groups consumed has increased 20%
- 42% of the beneficiaries now own their own home
- Percent of family members sleeping under mosquito nets has grown from 46% to 84%