University College Cork (UCC) student Johanna Murray has just over three weeks left on her placement with our team in Haiti. Here, she talks through a crucial aspect of the work she’s been undertaking during her time with us…
Dia dhuit gach duine: I hope everyone enjoyed the bank holiday weekend!
Thankfully, I’m pretty much back to normal in terms of health: just one day left of antibiotics and, hopefully, all that food poisoning will be in the dust. This week has been relatively busy: with only three weeks and three days to go, there’s still quite a bit of work to be done!
As many of you know, a lot of my work has revolved around the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) aspect of development. I learned quite a bit about the importance of this during my three years in UCC. It’s extremely annoying – I can attest to that. This side of development requires vast amounts of information and transparency: words have to be specific and there are quite a few forms to fill. It can sometimes bog down organisations as they get caught up in the bureaucratic/red tape aspect of their work and cannot dedicate as much time to their projects. In saying that, however, M&E is an extremely important aspect to any organisation, especially bigger organisations: it’s incredibly important to know where the money goes.
M&E requires not just vast amounts of paperwork but also field work. I mean this in the sense that, every day we are on Île à Vache, I must go with Nadine, our Community Development and Livelihoods Officer, meet various people, and discuss how their work is going. This involves people involved in our wells and water projects, our Income Generation Programme, and our Forestry Programme etc. It is essential to meet people and gather data so that, when donors or whoever comes calling, you have the relevant information detailing all the progress or challenges that you and your project participants have encountered. It’s all about knowing what is going on within your organisation. It’s also showing those taking part in your programmes that you are keeping an eye on them and that you are available to answer questions.
I think it shows that you care: it’s important that your participants feel they are part of the organisation and, by visiting them and watching their progress, I feel you become more approachable.
So, yes, transparency and accountability are massively important. They are essential to the running of any organisation, whether they’re a charity or not.
The development sector is still learning and growing. Charities have such a responsibility to those who donate to them and to the people they pledge to help. It is refreshing to see an organisation such as Haven work tirelessly to ensure donors know exactly where their money goes. It is also nice to see that, with our new fortnightly reports, if anyone in the future asks about the progress of any of our projects, we can simply use these reports.
M&E is tricky to get right. I do not think it should impede on an organisation’s ability to work on its projects, but it is necessary: we need to look at more efficient ways of implementing this in the future so a balance can be set.