An Introduction to the Three
Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation Consultancy Reports

1.            Introduction

This discussion note lays out the rationale and initial findings emerging from the Regional Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Consultancy that began in 1999.  The consultancy, implemented by Dr Sejal Worah (an ecologist cum project management design specialist from India) has had three separate inputs:

·         March - April 1999

·         November December 1999

·         December 2000-January 2001.

And, a further input is planned towards the end of 2001.

The note highlights some key issues that were discussed within the project management teams in relation to project planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. The note is extracted largely from the Sejal Worah M and E Report: Number One.

Much of the initial discussion was focused around issues related to planning. This is because it is difficult, if not impossible, to separate m&e from planning. An effective monitoring strategy requires a clearly defined hierarchy of objectives against which indicators can be developed. Clearly defined objectives require an effective and participatory planning process to have taken place at all levels including the sites where project activities are to be implemented.

Because of these links between planning, monitoring and evaluation (pm&e), planning issues and processes were considered in some detail.

Developing a detailed monitoring plan led to a more rigorous assessment of project objectives because of the need to identify specific, measurable and reliable indicators to assess progress towards the objectives. Since this was the first in depth attempt at developing a monitoring plan for the project, it led to a substantial review and discussion of the existing objectives. It also raised the need to make the broadly defined objectives in the existing logframe more specific so that site specific monitoring plans could be developed. This led to a number of discussions related to the participatory planning process that would help define clear objectives at the site level. These issues are discussed in detail in the first input and report. They are touched on below.

The overall approach taken throughout the consultancy was that of capacity building. If the m&e strategy is to be successful, then key project staff should be able to design, implement, assess and continually refine the strategy. In turn, if this is to be a participatory m&e approach, then the project staff should be able to build the capacity of partners at the different sites to enable them to design and carry out site-specific monitoring. Therefore, training workshops and awareness raising seminars (at the regional, national, district and village levels) formed a substantial part of the consultant’s work in all visits.

2.            Consolidation and rationalisation of logframe

Not surprisingly, for a project of this complexity and scope, the logical framework was a complex document -- 9 pages long, detailing 51 activities related to 7 outputs identified through the wider planning process. This made the project somewhat difficult to communicate to people not familiar with the framework approach and to people who may not have been a part of the planning process that led to the development of the logframe. Before discussing monitoring and indicators, it was important to ensure that the hierarchy of project objectives was clear and logical and that the project objectives themselves were expressed in a manner that would enable them to be monitored easily.

One of the first activities of the consultant, therefore, was to summarise the log-frame in a format that was more “user-friendly” and easily communicable. The resulting “project map” is attached.  While the primary purpose of the consultancy was not to review the logframe and the logic inherent in it, some level of review was unavoidable if relevant indicators are to be defined. This process revealed that parts of the logframe could be re-organised to further strengthen the hierarchy of objectives and to make monitoring of objectives simpler.

These proposed organisational changes in the logframe are discussed below:

i)                    Clustering activities: At the activity level, the logframe detailed all 51activities which included both relatively specific actions (such as ‘conducting a training needs analysis’ or ‘providing essential equipment’) as well as much longer process-oriented actions (such as ‘developing collaborative management protocols’ or ‘promoting political support’). This not only made the logframe unnecessarily unwieldy[1] but also made thinking of indicators difficult as different “levels” of activities were all lumped together.

To overcome these problems, the activities were “clustered” under broad headings that illustrated the overall aim of each “set” of activities. “Sub-activities” or tasks corresponding to each “activity cluster” were linked to these (for example a number of activities related to training, equipment provision, etc. for local agencies were all linked to the overall aim of ‘developing the capacity of local agencies at each of the sites’). These activity clusters are laid out at the lowest level in the “project map”.


ii)                  Re-linking activities and outputs: The process of reviewing the logframe and clustering activities also helped to clarify links between planned activities and proposed outputs. In some cases, similar “sets” of activities need to be conducted to achieve different outputs (for example, the collection and analysis of information for site specific interventions such as the development of alternative resource use strategies or alternative livelihoods). These were made more explicit and linked to the specific outputs for the sake of clarity (B1, B2 and B3).


iii)                Breaking up multiple objectives: It was found that some of the objectives, especially at the activity level, contained multiple objectives all encompassed within one sentence (e.g. A1.1 and A 2.2). This again, would make monitoring difficult because of the confusion and lack of clarity between what was actually aimed for. These were therefore broken up into two distinct activity level objectives.


iv)                Adding a component on regional linkages: Although this project is nationally executed, it has a regional and cross-border component that is an essential part of the overall strategy. The  logframe focuses mostly on national and site-level objectives while the only explicitly stated cross-border activity (B4.2) is found under the output that refers to “externalities” (B4).

It was felt that it might “add value” to the project at a regional level to make this a more explicitly stated output and develop activities for this so that more proactive steps could be taken to address cross-border issues and these could be monitored more effectively.


v)                  Rethinking indicators and verifiers: Once the revised and summarised logframe had been developed, it was possible to focus on the indicators and verifiers. Some of the indicators described in the original logframe were actually a restatement of the objectives in different ways and were not really verifiable through the means described. Some means of verification were actually indicators – others were not very reliable. All these needed to be re-discussed and revised. In addition, indicators had been described for all levels of activities including specific tasks. This would make the monitoring plan extremely unwieldy, difficult and time-consuming to implement. It is proposed that process monitoring with specifically defined indicators takes place at the level of activity clusters while tasks are monitored mainly by assessing whether they were carried out effectively or not.


3.      Developing a common vision

For a project that aims to work largely through partnerships with both government and non-government organisations at different levels, it is critical that all potential partners have a common vision of the project. At different times, all these partners will be involved in some level of project planning, implementation and monitoring (and self-review/evaluation) and therefore need to develop a common understanding on these processes. In particular, since this project is conceived as an Integrated Conservation and Development Project (ICDP), it is important that all partners understand basic issues and concepts related to ICDPs before moving into implementation.


4.      “Levels” of the project

This is a regional project that also aims to work at specific sites in each of the three countries. It therefore operates at multiple levels – a regional level (East Africa), a national level (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania), a “site” level (Same, Kajiado, Rakai, etc.) and a ward, district or village level (Chome, etc.). To some extent, participatory planning involving stakeholders at the regional and national levels has already been undertaken and the wider project has been developed based on these consultations.

Specific interventions to be undertaken at the local level have not yet been defined because participatory planning at this level is still to take place. At the start of the consultancy the project did not know in enough detail  what the site specific issues were both in relation to conservation (values? threats? root causes?) and development (local needs? priorities? institutions?). In order to develop specific conservation and development interventions more specific information was needed, and also there was need to initiate discussions at the local level to identify stakeholder groups and develop strategies to work with them for planning and implementation of site-specific interventions.

This participatory approach to developing site level plans was adopted. It meant that the project used a more participatory approach to involve local stakeholders in planning and implementation. However,   this approach required more time for consultations with local communities and partners and also more skills in participatory planning approaches among the planning teams.

The plans from the sites would be “nested” within the overall logframe with the same wider goals and objectives but more specific activities. A diagrammatic representation of this is given

These issues were discussed with the project teams at regional and national and local levels, and with GEF UNDP. It was agreed that the more participatory approach, was the preferred one.


5.      The Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy

Monitoring was not to be seen as an additional, externally driven activity that creates more work for project managers, staff and partners. Rather, monitoring is an integral part of project implementation and management that provides project partners with information that can help improve project efficiency, effectiveness and accountability. This is an essential component of decision-making in the complex and uncertain external environment within which this project is operating. It is important to keep in mind that monitoring is linked to objectives – it is objectives that drive the selection of indicators for monitoring and not vice versa. Monitoring is the process by which information is collated and analysed to assess progress towards defined objectives.

A preliminary monitoring plan in the form of indicators and means of verification already existed within the current logframe. These indicators needed some re-assessment. The redefined logframe will be used during this process. However, it is important to also discuss what these indicators mean. Is the project going to collect information at this broad level or are these indicators simply an aggregation of site specific indicators?

Some indicators especially quantitative ones can be aggregated from site specific to national levels to give an idea of project progress. Other indicators, particularly qualitative ones, cannot be simply aggregated to provide useful information. It was agreed that the site specific plans should “drive” the overall project, and that it will probably be necessary to modify the broad indicators in the overall logframe once the site specific action plans and monitoring plans have been developed.



The above notes were based on the first planning consultancy. Findings were agreed by the National and Regional Steering Committees.

The second consultancy gave greater field experience in the use of planning tools including broad based situation analysis, and more specific site threat analysis, stakeholder analysis and objective analysis. These led to site action plans.

The third consultancy looked at the site action plans in light of implementation experience and helped provide a strategic refocus with prioritisation. This led to stronger Indicator processes.

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