The success or failure of any programme is strictly hinged on the appropriate implementation of monitoring and evaluation.
guest column: PETER MAKWANYA
Monitoring and evaluation are tools of quality control and enhancement systems that are indispensable.
Before talking about best practices of monitoring and evaluation, it is important to come up with a user-friendly definition.
In most cases and situations, we find the terms, monitoring and evaluation being used together, although referring to separate tasks within the same activity.
Putting it in simple terms, monitoring can be referred to as an ongoing exercise, while evaluation is periodic.
Overall, monitoring and evaluation refers to the process of following up on individual projects or programmes for the purpose of quality assurance of inputs and outcomes.
It is necessary to justify why monitoring and evaluation is critical to the survival of climate change adaptation programmes.
Since climate change has become a threat to food security, we need robust and versatile monitoring and evaluation tools to arrest this menace.
But it appears things are not moving in that direction, since, as a nation, we are yet to come up with concrete and goal-bound monitoring and evaluation systems regarding our climate situations.
For a climate literate person, it is quite clear to see glaring policy gaps and systems that will even make well-qualified monitors and evaluators fail.
To facilitate climate action and being able to realise favourable climate change adaptation outcomes, monitoring and evaluation is imperative.
But the major question is: Are those who are entrusted with monitoring our climate change projects and programmes, if we have any currently running, able to visualise the whole process through the climate change lens?
In general, monitoring and evaluation experts already known to us are experts from the arms of government, many from the development sector, donor organisations and those in the private sector.
But then, do we have monitoring and evaluation practitioners from the grassroots, the community-based, the regional and the national, so as to have closely knit monitoring mechanisms that ensure compliance and quality assurance?
But also, let us hasten to say that our major undoing as a nation is that we have destroyed our climate intentions, programmes and initiatives with climate change “buzz words”.
While it is the trend to be in line with the global trends, I think it is the pace that these “buzz words” and discourses are killing our spirit.
Not so long ago, we were talking about “greening” everything. Before we even had to start greening or actually know what it is to “green”, in no time at all, we are now talking about “climate resilience”, “smart seeds and smart farming”, “eco-farming”, “e-agriculture” and the like.
This is all happening at a breath-taking pace that has never been witnessed before, at the same time sticking to traditional and specific climate action-oriented discourses like adaptation, mitigation, or disaster risk reduction.
While I do not have a problem with climate resilience, smart seeds, smart or eco-farming, I think these terms go along with certain stages of industrial realisation and technological advancement.
This whole thing will put proper monitoring initiatives in disarray.
In monitoring and evaluation, it is this step-by-step process that the people and stakeholders need to see and practice, so that they are able to connect the dots and fill in existing gaps in order to avoid threatening climate pitfalls.
Monitoring and evaluation, though easier to articulate, has not been able to bring desired results and outcomes, as it needs capacitation.
It is an area that is so wide, comprehensive and exhaustive in nature and can never be well understood in a single article like this.
But it is also important to talk about its cross-cutting nature and fundamentals that will consolidate and help people have a working knowledge of the whole process.
Of course, I will not worry the readers with technical terms like off-the-shelf methodology, baselines, timing, standard adaptation metric and attribution, since this is not a training exercise.
It is also significant to note that monitoring and evaluation of climate-related risks and hazards or programmes does not exist in isolation or is independent from the resources, be they financial or institutional for smooth implementation procedures.
And also, that implantation has never been easier is just an open secret. Even in cases where resources are available, challenges can still be witnessed.
A holistic working mechanism of monitoring and evaluation is actually cross cutting in nature, and it is done at various levels to ensure desired outcomes and accountability.
People expect success in whatever climate change projects they are engaged in, but when they see that some of their adaptation programmes are abandoned mid-way through, neglected because of funding problems or that there are policy duplications and erratic management approaches, then they will not have faith in monitoring and evaluation exercises.
People don’t need to be sold dummies through unfulfilled climate change buzz words, they need real action and compliance.
Monitoring and evaluation should serve its purpose of being multi-stakeholder, multi-disciplinary and multi-sectorial in nature.
These complement each other so as to make disaster risk reduction possible through appropriate adaptation measures, as well as versatile proactive quality assurance mechanisms.
And depending on what needs to be done, human, financial and technical expertise, including political will to do so, are needed.
The lack of all of the above in monitoring and evaluation become the weakest point of climate change adaptation programmes.
Peter Makwanya is a climate change communicator. He writes in his own capacity and can be contacted on: firstname.lastname@example.org