Design, Monitoring and Evaluation for Peacebuilding

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Emerging Evaluator Series: M&E allows us to design more effective programs

Author, Copyright Holder: 
Sedera Arnaud Rajoelison

DME for Peace recently posed questions to some of Search for Common Ground's Emerging Evaluators across Africa. The following answers come from Sedera Arnaud Rajoelison who works as a DM&E Coordinator at Search for Common Ground Madagascar. Sedera is originally from Madagascar and holds a Bachelors in Sociology, and a Masters in Social Communication. Prior to joining Search in October 2015, Sedera worked as an Independent Evaluator.

What enticed you to study or begin working in evaluation? 

I graduated in 2009 with a degree in sociology. Following that, I worked as a consultant for a NGO with an environmental focus. At the same time, I continued my studies and received my masters in social communication. I have been working in mediation for nearly 5 years, which has made me very aware of what’s at stake in peace and development programming. Questions like, why does Madagascar have so many different programs? Why are there are so many projects that have no impact? Is it because the activities in these projects are not relevant to the context? Are the approaches used not appropriate?

These questions led me to pursue a career in monitoring and evaluation. I thought to myself, “I can make a difference by choosing the best methodology and approach.” That’s why I decided to undergo training in monitoring and evaluation.

At the time, I never thought about working at Search for Common Ground because they weren’t working in Madagascar. Instead, I did a lot of research in “mediation de savoir” – and stakeholder analysis in order to develop a better understanding of the state of development in Madagascar.   

I first heard about Search for Common Ground in 2014, and that’s when I applied to be a Monitoring & Evaluation Assistant. I really wanted this job because it ticked all of the boxes for me, particularly with my education background in mediation and social communication.

A couple of months later, I got a call from the DME Coordinator asking me to join Search as a consultant. I was really excited to put my my university studies into practice. By collaborating with the DME Coordinator, I became aware of the challenges facing design, monitoring and evaluation professionals at NGOs like Search for Common Ground.  At Search our projects are very large and vary in their subject but there is one constant, peacebuilding.

Where is it leading you in your life? 

DM&E projects are always a challenge. I am very comfortable reading and consolidating activity reports, as well as giving advice about approach and methodology. I love the broad nature of the projects that I work on, the different topics and areas, it feeds my curiosity.

Is it meeting your expectations? 

Absolutely! Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed but the challenge is worth it.

Why do you think M&E is important for Africa?

Africa, and Madagascar, has a lot of projects but most of them have not outlined their intended impact.

Monitoring and evaluation is an important aspect of all programs. With the amount of projects currently ongoing in Madagascar, and across Africa, many of them could be positive and many could be negative. That is why monitoring and evaluation is important, because it allows us to establish what works, what doesn’t and that will allow use to create more effective programs and more sustainable development.

What are the negative consequences of having too many programs? Sometimes there is a lack of conflict sensitivity and the “do no harm approach” in programs across the continent. As each NGO works independently, it is possible that their individual intervention creates more conflict within the communities they are working in, rather than making a positive impact.

Conflict sensitivity and the do no harm approach needs to be reinforced in Africa, and especially Madagascar. All evaluators must work together to create a better approach and be conflict sensitive; this is how we improve program efficiency.