'العربية / al-ʿarabīyah
Knowing How We Are Doing
by Phil Bartle, PhD
When a community prepares a project design, that design should include a description of how it will be monitored. Monitoring must be an integral element of every project
The word "monitoring" sounds a bit like technical jargon, and some of your community members might feel a little threatened by your talking about it. Never fear; the idea of monitoring is very simple.
It is also important for community strengthening, and serves many purposes so long as it is an essential integrated element, not something separate which was tacked on like an after thought. See: Monitoring.
Again, to get your point across, use a metaphor. The "bicycle" analogy can be useful here. Ask the group, "How many of you here know how to ride a bicycle?" We hope and expect at least one says yes. (If not, you will have to be hypothetical, or ask about any other activity that requires sight). "Yes"? Good!
"Have you ever tried shutting your eyes while riding a bicycle?" "If not, can you imagine what will happen?" You can draw out a number of answers, which should indicate disaster, like running into a tree or person, going off the track, falling down.
Now say that the community is the rider; the bicycle is the project design; the ride or journey is the community project.
The project design (bicycle) will get you to where you want to go (objectives), but you must keep your eyes open (monitor your progress).
Every project, large or small, can easily go a little off track, and usually does. If it is not closely and continuously monitored (watched), then it will soon go off the road, hit something, and fall down.
If it is constantly monitored, then small deviations can be quickly and easily corrected, and failure avoided.
The community must be in the driver's seat.
Others will also want to monitor. Any external donors will want to know if their donated resources are being well used. District officials will want to monitor for their own purposes. You will want to monitor to see how well you are strengthening the community.
The community has the greatest reasons for monitoring.
Your job as mobilizer to impress upon the community members the importance and simplicity of monitoring. (Simple does not always mean easy).
Your job is also to guide the executive in ensuring:
How the community project is to be monitored should be agreed upon and understood by the executive and community, and carefully spelled out in its planning documents.
© Copyright 1967, 1987, 2007 Phil Bartle