Monitoring and Evaluation: No Longer for “Experts Only”
Those two letters alone can send shivers down the spine of project managers and project staff all over the world, conjuring up scary images of time-consuming research and complex data analysis that means little if anything to the communities in which the projects are being implemented.
But in the Primeiras & Segundas Project, community members themselves are taking part in the monitoring and evaluation process, and finding it to be not so scary after all.
It’s now been over a year since about five dozen local fishermen and farmers from Angoche, Moma, and Pebane districts received training in a participatory data collection system known as MOMS (Management Oriented Monitoring System), which is integrated into their work as community rangers, or fiscais, and feeds directly into the Primeiras & Segundas Project monitoring and evaluation program.
Adapted from the Event Book System that WWF first developed for use in Namibia, MOMS consists of about a half dozen simple forms on which the local rangers can record things that happen from day to day: sightings of endangered animals, fires set by local farmers that spiral out of control, incidences of illegal cutting of mangrove trees, and a variety of other events. At the end of each month, these events are tabulated and the results shared with the P&S staff, who incorporate it into the rest of the M&E system.
Bernardo Cachimo, the head of the fiscais and a native of Angoche, acknowledges that getting the monitoring system off the ground took a bit of time and effort. “We really had to sit with the fiscais and help them learn how to fill in the forms. But now they can do it themselves,” he explained.
The fiscais take their M&E role just as seriously as their other work. Charamatane Momade, one of the fiscais who has taken on the role of MOMS representative, stresses the importance of having hard data available to back up their sensitization activities with local communities, particularly when it comes to endangered species.
“For example,” he offered, “in Tamole [a local beach community] people used to use the sea turtle eggs and the turtles. We’ve taught them that they should return them to the water, and now they’re doing that a lot more, and now we’re seeing more turtles recorded in MOMS, so we can tell people it’s working.”
Of course, the system still has room for improvement. The fiscais are still limited in their reporting ability by the lack of equipment such as GPS systems, which would help them identify the locations of wildlife sightings and other events more accurately. They could also use more frequent support – Mr. Cachimo wishes that he could get out to each post a lot more often to check in with all of the rangers on a regular basis, but transportation is a challenge.
The next step in MOMS is to start involving the fiscais and the local communities in more of the data analysis. By this point, the system has been in place long enough to start seeing some trends in the data, and the P&S Project has plans to introduce a simple graphing method at each ranger post that will help the fiscais start to identify the trends themselves. Not only does this give the communities local ownership of the data, but it will also help to alert them to negative trends that might develop over time so that they can identify and implement solutions that make sense for them.
Will MOMS completely replace other forms of M&E in the Primeiras e Segundas Project? Well, maybe not, but it definitely has an increasing role to play as the project moves into its next phase and more of the management responsibilities are shifted to local community members.
“The system is welcomed,” Mr. Cachimo concludes. “It’s brought us a lot of new experience. We hope that it stays forever and helps us continue to learn.”