The role of technology in meeting the needs of communities
July 11, 2017
By Priscilla Muzerengwa | Harare, Zimbabwe
This article was originally published by Harper Hill Global.
Note of appreciation: Enrolling in the Monitoring and Evaluation Diploma offered by TechChange is a worthwhile step I will never regret. I have always wanted to do this diploma but had no means. A big thank you to Baltimore-Washington Conference of The United Methodist Church, Harper Hill Global and TechChange who made it possible for me to enroll in this diploma.
The diploma is very qualitative and informative. My knowledge is being increased every day. I am acquiring new skills that will enable me to get into new ventures and collaborations with the church and or other organizations. This diploma features many experts in the field who give insights about technology for monitoring and evaluation. I am inspired and committed to use technology more and more to accelerate the impact and desired goal we want to achieve as a church.
Evolution in technology has brought changes in many fields including the way we monitor and evaluate projects. The traditional way of monitoring and evaluation is being gradually replaced by digital processes. The manual methods of pen and paper evaluation are changing. Organisations used to put much emphasis on the evaluation which checks the outcome against the set goals. It will be a waste of resources realising adjustment that were supposed to take place during the projects only to know these areas at the end of the project. Hence the need for monitoring and evaluation, which tracks projects from initiation to the end.
Monitoring and evaluation is the systematic collection and analysis of information from projects with the aim of improving performance and achieving desired goals. The digitization of these processes has been achieving acceptance because of its robustness, efficiency, speed, accuracy, transparency and ease of analysis.
“We are in the digital age, so we have lots of technology that help us to gather and transmit information. That has revolutionised the process of monitoring and evaluation. This has digitised the whole process,” said Maliha Khan M&E development practitioner. “Multiple apps and platforms are now available that help with designing surveys, collect data and analyze the data. This has made the process faster, better and cheaper. Clean up of data becomes easier. There is reduction of error and the cleanup of data becomes easier.”
According to Priscilla Chomba of Danish Church Aid, “Every humanitarian and developmental organisation must become a digital organisation, and those who fail to do so will die.”
Organizations are now being measured on their statistics. The capacity to track impact means that we must work with data, aggregate it and perform analysis. People interested in your organisation will always ask about statistics. Producing analysis of these statistics at a click of a button will make your organisation stand out. Answers to questions like: What’s your impact? or What’s your reach? require a good analysis of data. Some of the factors that donors and partners consider when selecting projects are increase in reach, impact measurements and geographic comparisons.
To get this analysis, organizations are increasingly implementing technologies in monitoring and evaluation. These technologies collect large amounts of data and produce analysis that help the organizations learn more about their programs. Based on the analysis, stakeholders are able to make better decisions and thereby create more value for their project.
“Build an information system into your project so that the necessary data can be collected in the course of regular project operations,” advised Michael Kleindirector of International Solutions Group. “Such a system can provide timely, relevant information that can be used by decision-makers throughout the course of the project.”
Zak Kaufman, Co-Founder and CEO of Vera Solutions, emphasizes that the ingredients to good data are; availability of capable, skilled people; user friendly systems; appropriate methods, and consistency.
Baltimore-Washington Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church is running several life changing projects in Zimbabwe Episcopal Area. The projects address the needs of the community as a whole in light of the church’s four focus areas categorised as:
- Congregational development
- Leadership development
- Global Health
- Poverty alleviation
Like any other projects monitoring and evaluation plays an important role in making sure that Baltimore Washington and Zimbabwe Episcopal Areas realize success in their goals. Monitoring and evaluation gives the real picture of what is on the ground making sure assistance goes to the right people at the right time. Acquired skills will help these projects become more relevant meeting the holistic needs of the community.
A wide range of technologies that enable organizations to monitor and evaluate projects are being taught. Key to this diploma are lessons learned from giants in the industry of Monitoring and Evaluation. TechChange invites many experts in the field who give insights about technology for monitoring and evaluation. Gathering from all the activities and presentations technology has brought many positive effects into monitoring and evaluation and it is here to stay. Let us embrace technology into monitoring and evaluation and we will enjoy the benefits.
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