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Community, District, National, Donor

by Phil Bartle, PhD

Workshop Handout

Monitoring methods differ at each level, and complement each other

There is no universal vocabulary for varying levels of government and administration from the community level to the national level. Terminology varies from country to country. I can not, therefore, use a set of terms that can be applied in many countries, although the principles and methods of community empowerment are universally similar (with minor variations between countries). Since these training modules were mainly developed in Uganda, I am using the terminology of Uganda.

When Museveni came to power, they ranged from Resistance Council Level One (community or village) up to Resistance Council Level Five (District). More recently, Uganda reverted to a former terminology with colonial vestiges: 1 = village, 2 = parish, 3 = sub county, 4 = county and 5 = district. The precise terms are not important here; what is important is that there are monitoring roles that range from the village to the national level. Use whatever terms are applicable to your situation.

Monitoring should be carried out by all stake holders at all levels. Each level, however, has specific objectives for monitoring, methods and therefore roles.

For monitoring to be effective, there is need for a mechanism of giving feedback to all people involved at all levels (community, district, national and donor).

Monitoring at Community Level:

Community level is where implementation and utilization of the benefits of the project take place. In most cases it is the village and parish level. At this level, the major purpose of monitoring is to improve the implementation and management of projects. The interest of the community as a whole in monitoring school construction, for example, is to ensure that the construction of the school (an output) is being done as planned.

The specific objectives for monitoring at this level therefore include, (a) ensuring that the projects are implemented on time, (b) that they are of good quality and (c) that the project inputs are well utilized.

Monitoring at this level involves:

Identifying a community project. This should be identified in a participatory manner to reflect the community needs and stimulate people's interest in its implementation and monitoring.

If the process of project identification is not well done and does not reflect community interests, it is likely that the communities will not participate in the monitoring of the implementation activities;

Identifying the team(s) to spearhead the monitoring of the project in the community. The roles of each team, how they should carry out the monitoring process, the use and sharing of information generated with other groups within and without the community, should be specified and explained;

Design a work plan that guides project monitoring. The work plan should specify the activities in the order that they will be executed and the individuals to execute them. This helps the people monitoring to know the activities that should be carried out by particular individuals in a given period of time. If the activities are not carried out, the people monitoring get guidance in coming up with solution(s);

Determine the major activities from the work plan. Whereas all activities in the work plan are necessary and should be monitored, it is useful to identify the major activities on the basis of which objectives and indicators would be set. For example if the preparatory activities in a school construction project include, community mobilization, borrowing of hoes from the neighbouring village, digging of the soil and fetching of water for brick making, the major activity summarizing all the sub activities could be brick making.

Determine the indicators for each activity objective. The indicators help the that team monitoring to tell how far they have gone in achieving the objectives of each activity. In our example, one indicator could be the number of bricks made. And

Compare what is happening with what was planned should be done in the process to tell whether the project is on schedule and as planned. The monitors should check at the indicators to measure how far they have reached in achieving the objectives. This should involve looking at the quality of work to ensure that it is good. The monitoring team may need to involve a technical person like a local artisan or a technician from the district to ascertain the quality of the project (if it is of a construction).

The monitoring team should then agree on how often they should visit the project site as a means of verifying what is taking place. For a community project, to avoid big deviations from the work plan, monitoring visits should be carried out at least once a week. During the project visits, the team should look at what is happening (observe) and talk to every body who is involved in the project;

For each activity, the monitoring team should identify the objectives. For example the objective of brick making as an activity during the school construction project could be; to make ten thousand bricks by the end of February.

Whenever a monitoring visit is carried out, those monitoring should write down what their findings. They can use a form attached in the annex or agree on any other reporting format that captures the findings of the exercise in relation to the work plan. The findings from the monitoring visits should be discussed with other members of the implementation committee. The monitoring and implementation teams should use the information collected to detect and solve the problems facing the project.

The monitoring and implementation teams should store the information well and use it for future actions and to inform other stake holders. At each site there should be a file in which copies of monitoring reports and other documents related to the project are kept.

Monitoring at District and Sub-County Level:

The district and sub county officials should get information from the community monitoring (monitoring performance in relation to turning the inputs into outputs). They should also monitor the outcome of the project (eg the effect of school construction on the enrolment levels). The district should also monitor the increase in strength, capacity and power of the target community to stimulate its own development.

The objectives therefore include: supporting the improvement in project performance and measuring the applicability of the way the project was designed in relation to community strengthening.

The methods for monitoring that can be adopted at this level include (a) routine monitoring and (b) qualitative support.

Routine Monitoring and Supervisory Support: This requires the District Project Co-ordinator, Community Development Assistant, other technical staff and politicians at the district and sub county to visit the project sites to ascertain what is happening in relation to what was planned.

A copy of the work plan and community monitoring reports should be kept in the project site file. This will help whomever wants to compare progress with the work plan and get comments of the monitoring team to do so without necessarily tracing the members of the monitoring team who may not be readily available.

During routine monitoring, discussions should be made with all the people involved in the implementation and monitoring of the project. Look at the manner in which each team performs its duties (as a means of verifying the increase in community capacity).

Make and record comments about good and bad elements in the project. Recommend solutions showing who should undertake them, with financial, time and the negative effects that may accrue to the project if they are not taken. A copy of the comments should be left in the project site file/book and the other discussed and filed at the district.

The sub counties and districts should organize discussions of project progress at least once a month. Also file and submit a project progress report as part of the routine monthly reporting to the district and national office respectively.

The major issues to look at during the district and sub county routine monitoring include:

  • Levels of actual community, sub county, district and donor contributions (including funds, materials, time and expertise);
  • Timely implementation and quality of projects;
  • Appropriate use and accountability of community and donor resources;
  • Level of community involvement in the project;
  • Commitment and performance of community committees; and
  • Timely use of information generated through the community routine monitoring.

Qualitative Enquiry: The district, in liaison with the sub county, should organize Focus Group Discussions, Key Informant Interviews, and Community Group Discussions, with communities and other key informants at least twice a year.

These enquiries would help the district to:

  • Verify some of the information collected by the community and district;
  • Get information on issues that are not captured during the routine monitoring;
  • Discuss on spot with the communities on possible solutions to problems hindering project performance; and
  • Discuss with the community, learn from them, explain capacity building issues.

These qualitative enquiries should be simple and involve the community members to reduce the costs and enable the community members to learn how to conduct them as a means of community strengthening. The outputs should be analysed in relation to the community and routine district findings and should also be used to discuss solutions.

Findings should be well documented and shared at the national level in order to assist national level management information.

The major issues during the qualitative enquiries include:

  • Establishing whether the projects were the community priorities (also the appropriateness of the project identification);
  • Community members' knowledge and appreciation of the project methodology, and their willingness to participate and contribute to the project activities;
  • Effectiveness of the community members during project monitoring;
  • Opinions of community members on quality and use of resources (accountability);
  • Skills (eg decision making capacity and negotiation skills), acquired by specific categories of people in the community during project implementation; and
  • Community knowledge of their rights and obligations.

Before qualitative enquiries, each district and sub county should identify and discuss any management information gaps to form periodic themes. Specific designs would also be agreed upon at this stage.

Monitoring at National and Donor Level:

Monitoring at the national and donor level is to find out if project inputs are well used (desired outputs are being realized), project design is appropriate, and for learning.

The objectives of monitoring at this level include:

  • To ensure that the inputs for are efficiently and effectively utilized.
  • That the planned activities are being realized;
  • To measure the applicability of the methodology to community strengthening; and
  • To draw lessons from the project intervention for future projects in the country and beyond. The lessons will provide the basis for project methodology replication.

The methods for monitoring at this level include: (a) routine monitoring, (b) action research and qualitative enquiries, and (c) surveys.

Routine Monitoring: Routine monitoring should be done on a quarterly basis by project staff and the ministry's planning unit to check on the levels of activities and objectives. Since the national level gets information about the projects and activities through monthly district progress reports, national routine monitoring should be limited in scope. It should cover aspects that appear contradictory, problematic, very satisfactory or unique. These would enable the national office to provide the necessary support and draw lessons.

Action Research and Qualitative Enquiries: The national office should carry out in-depth qualitative enquiries once a year. These should focus on drawing lessons from the project design and implementation experiences for replication.

Therefore, the major issues at this level include:

  • The contribution of community projects on national and donor priorities;
  • Satisfaction derived by the communities (levels of service and facility utilization);
  • Capacity of the community to operate and maintain the services and facilities;
  • Ability of the community members to pay for the services and facilities;
  • Appropriateness of the project methodology in light of national policies;
  • Leadership, authority and confidence within communities;
  • Capacity building and functioning of Local Governments and District personnel;
  • Representation (especially of women) in the community decision making process;
  • Replication of experiences in other projects and training institutions;
  • Capacity building of existing individuals and institutions; and
  • The functioning of the monitoring and management information systems.

Surveys: Surveys should also be conducted to gather quantifiable data and supplement the information generated through other methods. These can be contracted to research institutions such as at universities.

Monitoring Issues and Procedures at Different Levels:

Monitoring issues and procedures are described here for each level. This is to emphasize that the stake holders should spearhead but not exclusively carry out all monitoring. In practice, the issues and procedures of the different stake holders overlap. Each stake holder should support others in monitoring responsibilities.

Issues mentioned here are not exhaustive but indicate what should be done. Each level should therefore collect information on any other issues deemed relevant to the particular situations.

These are presented as three tables (1) community level, (2) district level, and (3) national level, indicating the key issues at each level.

Community Level:

At the community level the three main actors who have a stake in the community strengthening intervention are the:

  • CBO Executive or Implementing Committee (CIC) of the community project;
  • Community mobilizers; and
  • Parish Development Committee (PDC).

The following table looks at the main issues of interest, monitoring indicators, means of observing, frequency, and suggested monitoring procedures, for each of these three stake holders.

Stake Holder Issue Monitoring Indicator Means of Observing Freq. Monitoring Procedure
Executive Committee Timely Implementation of Projects Number of project activities implemented in time. Routine project visits Weekly Members use routine monitoring form
Appropriate use of project resources No materials misused Routine project visits. Project quality checks Weekly Members use routine monitoring form
Check quality using the technician's guidelines
Proper collection and storage of project information Percentage of projects with project site files; number of reports in site files Reviewing the project site files Weekly Members of the project committee review the project site file, reports and comments
Community Mobilizers Realistic project implementation work plan Number of project work plans with well sequenced activities Compare activities in the work plan with how they are implemented Monthly Mobilizers (1) review sequence of project work plans with a technical person, and (2) conduct monthly project site visits
Community participation in project activities Number of persons performing their roles Number of activities. Amount of resources provided by the community Monthly Project site visits; Discussions with people about their contributions.
Parish Dev't Committee Accountability of Project Resources Percentage of resources accounted for Resource accountability form Quarterly PDC members use project resource accountability form


Sub County and District Level:

At the district and sub district (more than one community) level, the main actors who have a stake in the community strengthening intervention are the:

  • Community Development Assistants (CDAs);
  • Planning Unit; and
  • District Project Co-ordinator, (DPC) who, if a ministry official, is usually a Community Development officer (CDO), or an NGO equivalent.

The following table looks at the main issues of interest, monitoring indicators, means of observing, frequency, and suggested monitoring procedures, for each of these three stake holders.

Stake Holder Issue Monitoring Indicator Means of Verification Freq. Monitoring Procedure
Community Development Assistant Functioning of mobilizers and community committees Number of committees performing their roles Review of each committee's performance Twice a year CDA during the qualitative enquiries determine the performance of each committee
District Project Co-ordinator


Planning Unit
Identification of projects that fall in the district plan and national priorities Number of projects under the district plan Review of project identification reports. Project visits Twice a year The planning unit reviews the plans from the parishes, to establish if they fall under the district plan and national priority areas
Community leaders acquisition of community management skills Number of villages using community participation in planning and implementing projects Review of project reports. Focus group discussions and other qualitative enquiry techniques. Twice a year Planning unit conducts qualitative enquiries to find out if communities are participating in project activities. District specific procedures must be designed when exercises take place


National and Donor Level:

At the national or country level, there are two main stake holders, (1) The ministry or agency that is implementing the intervention or project, and (2) any external national or international donors that are contributing to the intervention or project.

Stake Holder Issue Monitoring Indicator Means of Verification Freq. Monitoring Procedure
National Office


Community knowledge of methodology Proportion of people aware of the methodology. Surveys, focus group, discussions, key informant interviews Annually Agency or Ministry design and conduct the annual studies
Effectiveness of the project design Percentage of project outputs attained. Percentage of design aspects appreciated by the community. Review of project reports, Surveys, Focus Group Discussions, Key Informant Interviews Annually Agency or Ministry design and conduct the annual studies
Adaptation of implementation experiences by other projects and institutions in the country Proportion of the project design aspects adapted National and international discussions Annually Agency or Ministry conducts meetings with academic institutions and community projects to find out the methodological aspects that have been replicated



Reporting to the District, Nation and External Donors:

Reporting to the District, Nation and External Donors

© Copyright 1967, 1987, 2007 Phil Bartle
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Last update: 2011.09.30

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