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After the Observations are Made

by Phil Bartle, PhD

Training Handout

How to report the observations and analysis

While this document focusses on reporting of observations made while monitoring, the next module, Report Writing, looks more in detail about the writing of reports itself.

Reporting is a major activity during project monitoring. It is the way in which information about the process and output of activities, and not just the activities, is shared between the stake holders of the project.

In the case of a school construction project, reporting does not end at mentioning the number of times the community met to make bricks and build the school walls, but also mentions the number of bricks and school walls that were constructed plus the process through which they were accomplished.

In community projects, reporting is mainly done through two ways: verbal and written.

Verbal Reporting:

This is a process where reporting is done orally. It is the commonest means of reporting. The community members find it easier and more effective to communicate to others in words.

The advantages of verbal reporting are:

  • The ability for a wider proportion of the community to participate. Many community members especially in rural areas are illiterate and cannot write. Those that can write find the writing of reports time and resource consuming which makes them reluctant to document all the information acquired during project monitoring.
  • Clarity and timely distribution of information. Verbal reporting is always done immediately after an event. This makes the information arising out of the process to be relatively valid, reliable and up to-date than the information that is documented. The people that give the reports, get an opportunity to discuss with the community and get immediate feedback. This helps in decision making.
  • Low cost. Verbal reporting cuts down significantly the time and other resources spent on reporting.

The challenges of verbal reporting include:

  • Wrong reporting. Some community members may deliberately disseminate wrong information verbally to protect their interests. Verbal reporting is so tempting because a person reporting knows that no body will disqualify the reports. In other cases the people giving the information are not given the time to think through the responses.
  • Storage, replication and consistency: Since during verbal reporting information is neither documented nor recorded, it is very difficult to keep and retrieve it for further use. This information is only kept in the minds of people who participated in the implementation of the project. This therefore makes it difficult to share the information with people beyond the community especially in instances where those people who know the information cannot or are not willing to reveal it. The information collected is also not likely to be consistent especially in cases where past information is needed to generate new data.

Written Reporting:

During monitoring it is important to report about the results of activities not just the activities. Write what you observe, along with reviewing reports of technical people.

The advantages of written reports are:

  • They provide reliable information for management purposes (Written reports can be cross-checked over time with other information to ascertain accuracy);
  • They help to provide information from the technical people; and
  • The reports that are written are easy to manage.

The challenges of written reports are:

  • Day to day writing during project monitoring activities is always ignored; and
  • Documentation of reports is very costly both in time and money.

See Levels of Monitoring for an explanation of the levels used here. Uganda uses: 1 = village, 2 = parish, 3 = sub-county, 4 = county and 5 = district.

Reporting Roles of Key Stake Holders:

Community level:

Project Committees:

  • Design and publicize (in liaison with mobilizers) the project implementation work plan to the, Parish Development Committee, Local Councils and the community;
  • Compile and publicize the monthly project progress reports to the Parish Development Committee, Local Councils at village and parish level and Community Development Assistant; and
  • Keep the project site file (including the work plans, monitoring reports and any other specific project information) for each project.

Community Mobilizers:

  • Prepare reports about village level project identification process and submit copies to the Parish Development Committee and the Community Development Assistant;
  • Collect and submit reports about the community and specific individuals in the community; and
  • Submit reports on all training conducted in the community.

Parish Development Committees:

  • Give an up-date about projects in the parish to the community in local council meeting;
  • Report to community and CDA about resources and how they are used in each project;
  • Submit an annual report to the CDA on the main actors in the community projects.

Local Council One and Two:

  • Document minutes of council and executive meetings for their management decisions and use by the sub-county, district and national teams.

Sub-County and District Level:

Community Development Assistant:

  • Submits a monthly summary of project progress reports to the district;
  • Report on status and functioning of community mobilizers, project committees and parish development committees;
  • Submits a summary of training conducted by mobilizers and to the mobilizers;
  • Submits a report on the main contributors in the community projects to the district.

Community Development Officer (District Co-ordinator):

  • Submits a monthly summary of district progress reports to the national office.

National Office:

National Co-ordinator:

  • Submits half year progress reports in the country to the national steering committee, ministry and donors;
  • Prepares up-dates of project activities and outputs and submits copies to each district, who in turn publicize the report to the sub- counties and parishes.
  • Submits SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) reports twice a year on the strength and weaknesses of the project design to the ministry and donors. Include bad and good implementation experiences. May be part of the six month report;
  • Compiles and publicizes survey and qualitative enquiry findings whenever such studies are conducted.

Report Writing Workshop:

Report Writing Workshop

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

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