Monitoring and Evaluation
Our partners demand evidence, and rightly so. How else to prove the efficiency, effectiveness and value for money of our working model?
Hand in Hand’s monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework is based on a number of principles. Programs should be benchmarked against our friends in enterprise development using common criteria and standardized tools, the better to encourage shared learning throughout the sector. Results should be credible and transparent, fuelling constant improvement in comparison to baseline studies. And above all else, evidence should be gathered using scientifically validated systems and procedures.
Hand in Hand’s goals align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ratified by all 193 UN member states in late-2015. Each country has multi-stakeholder teams working to adapt and implement the goals, developing nationally applicable milestones and indicators. Our M&E efforts will vary across borders accordingly.
Largely the result of developing winning proposals (for the likes of DFID, the EU and others), as well as by observing global trends, recent years have taught us lots about which indicators have the most relevance and traction in our sector. Our indicators correlate to the relevant SDGs.
Wherever possible, we use standardized tools to measure change at the outcome level. In other instances, we also measure outputs. The difference between the two is both simple and fundamental: where outputs measure the immediate results of our programs – things like numbers of jobs – outcomes measure the changes that result from those outputs: improved incomes, resulting changes to diet and so on.
Jobs and employment (Goal 8) is one area where outputs are relevant. Poverty reduction/income change (Goal 1), food security (Goal 2) and women’s empowerment (Goal 5) are all best measured in terms of outcomes.
Jobs and employment (Goal 8)
Outputs such as members trained, business started, jobs created and credit disbursed are a vital component of our donor reporting. Cumulative outputs are measured monthly on a national level across the Hand in Hand network and shared with stakeholders.
Poverty reduction/income change (Goal 1)
Hand in Hand measures poverty reduction by monitoring the accumulation of assets – cattle, a motorcycle, whatever the case may be – among our members. We also directly measure net business income and changes in household income.
Food security (Goal 2)
Our objective is to eliminate moderate or severe food insecurity, with its sometimes irreversible consequences for long-term wellbeing, among the people we work with. As new members enter our program, we record the proportion of member households that are food insecure, then track them towards our goal that all households will have moved out of moderate and severe food insecurity by the end of any given project.
This measure is currently underway in Afghanistan. It will be introduced in Eastern Africa this year.
Women’s empowerment (Goal 5)
With our overwhelming focus on women as drivers of change, Hand in Hand adopts a range of qualitative methodologies to track progress on context-specific indicators of empowerment. These include focus group discussions with a scientifically selected sample of Self-Help Group members, as well as the application of sample surveys based on empowerment indicators such as participation in household decision-making and community-level structures.
Management Information Systems
Hand in Hand’s integrated, organization-wide electronic databases – called Management Information Systems (MIS) – are a comparative advantage in M&E. Tracking core indicators using an MIS enables efficient independent auditing, giving our results credibility, reliability and transparency.
The Hand in Hand M&E framework capitalizes on our existing MIS to build state-of-the-art monitoring systems, designed to store interactions between field staff and groups in a central database accessible at branch offices. Integrating our M&E function directly into the program ensures results and learning continuously flow back into implementation, and that the project is designed with a clear strategy for exit and sustainability.
Data collection tools are being developed to combine the functions of our existing poverty scorecard and biodata form, which measure a range of program outputs. These tools will maximize the benefits of having an MIS by collecting information on all beneficiaries on project outcomes.
Hand in Hand regularly funds independent, third party-evaluations of our programs to bolster our efforts in monitoring and evaluation.