Complete Guide of Participatory Monitoring, Evaluation & Reporting (MER)


Importance of Improved Monitoring, Evaluation, and Reporting

Organizations believe that they can add value, maintain the standards of their support quality and remain relevant to the needs, potentials, and opportunities of the beneficiaries only by constantly improving their monitoring, evaluation, and Reporting (MER) capacities. In order to improve its MER capacities, it is important first to discuss these capacities and then to discuss the means of strengthening them.


Design refers to the design of projects that are prepared to meet specific objectives. It is important to have a quality design as this will help ensure that programs are impact-oriented and are easier to monitor and evaluate. Quality design will be based on:

  • A goal-driven process and logical framework
  • Identification of the manageable number of SMART objectives and indicators
  • Collection of adequate and relevant baseline data directly linked to indicators
  • Creation of an efficient system for monitoring and evaluation, including ensuring that resources are built into the work plan and budget
  • Creation of programs that best meet local needs and conditions through participatory assessments



A goal is a general statement of what should be done to solve a problem. It defines broadly, what is expected out of a project. The final destination

Generating structure and strategies:

How do we get what we want with what we have?

It involves

  • Discussing and agreeing on the activities to be undertaken during implementation
  • Defining the different actors outside the community, and their roles
  • Defining and distributing costs and materials necessary to implement the project


A specific realistic target for measuring or judging if the objectives are achieved and providing bases for monitoring, reviews, and evaluation, indicators can be of six types.

  • Indicators can be processed or impact
  • Indicators can be direct or indirect (Proxy)
  • Indicators can be Qualitative and Quantitative

Quantitative Indicators:

Quantitative indicators are SMART-ER

  • Specific: Clear about what, where, when, and how the situation will be changed         
  • Measurable: Able to quantify the targets and benefits
  • Achievable: Able to attain the objectives (knowing the resources and capacities at the disposal of the community)
  • Realistic: Able to obtain the level of change reflected in the objectives
  • Time-bound: Stating the time period in which they will each be accomplished
  • Enjoyable
  • Rewarding

Example: Ten boreholes completed in ten villages in six months

Qualitative Indicators:

Qualitative indicators are SPICED

  • Subjective
  • Participatory
  • Indirect
  • Cross-Checked
  • Empowering
  • Diverse

Example: No stagnant water was observed around boreholes during the weekly observation walk    in each of the ten villages

Process Indicator

Process indication measures the process to see what kind and quality of outputs are produced and how things are going on. Quantity, Quality, and Time

Example: Member of health workers trained in the preparation of ORS and holding one session per week after six months.

Impact Indicator

The impact indicator measures the impact and is usually used at the outcome level to see what are the quantity measures and quality judgment by which achievements of a purpose or outcome can be judged.

With enhanced design capacity, program development will be more participatory and relevant.


Monitoring is a regular observation/continuous process of recording and checking ongoing activities to see whether the activities are on track and progressing as they were planned. Monitoring is done through supervision to look at the input, process, and output levels. Monitoring reports enable decision-making in order to achieve the targets/objectives more efficiently and effectively. It also provides data for evaluation. There are two types of monitoring.

Process Monitoring:

In this type of monitoring, we go through the process that how some activity is carried out whether that process is easy to access or hard to access.

Progress Monitoring:

In this type of monitoring, we only go through the output or results that what was the target and what is achieved. We don’t pay attention to that how it is achieved.

Note: The goals and objectives provide the basis for monitoring and evaluating a project and they are the yardsticks upon which project success or failure is measured.

Enhanced monitoring capacity should:

  • Provide program staff with a time management tool that measures performance against objectives and management targets, and helps ensure that the program is on schedule
  • Provide timely feedback to managers on what is working  and what is not working
  • Allowing timely changes to be made in budgets, work plans, etc.
  • Assist managers to document program results on a regular basis
  • Help with accountability to the donors and the communities through regular participatory monitoring and communication visits.

Monitoring provides information that will be useful in:

  • Analyzing the situation in the community and its projects;
  • Determining whether the inputs in the project are well utilized;
  • Identifying problems facing the community or project and finding solutions;
  • Ensuring all activities are carried out properly by the right people and in time;
  • Using lessons from one project experience on another; and
  • Determining whether the way the project was planned is the most appropriate way of solving the problems at hand

Note: Monitoring is an integral part of every project, from start to finish.

Types of Monitoring Indicators

Input indicators:

Describe what goes on in the project (e.g. number of bricks brought on-site and amount of money spent)

Output indicators:

Describe the project activity (e.g. number of classrooms built)

Outcome indicators:

Describe the product of the activity (e.g. number of pupils attending the school

Impact indicators:

Measure change in conditions of the community (e.g. reduced illiteracy in the community)

Techniques for collecting data/information

  • Documents review
  • Surveys
  • Discussions with individuals, specific groups, and the community as a whole
  • Interviews
  • Observations
  • Listening to people
  • Brainstorming
  • Informal conversations
  • Village social, resources, services, and opportunities
  • Transect walks, maps, problems trees.

With enhanced monitoring capacity program implementation will be on schedule and meet targets efficiently.


Evaluation is the overview of a project to see what has been achieved did the program achieved its purpose, and whether the achievements are relevant, efficient, and effective. Look at output, outcome, and impact level. It provides data for decision-makers and recommendations for future planning.

Evaluation: Drawing lessons from the project implementation experience and using the lessons in re-planning of projects in that community and elsewhere.

Evaluation helps in the future:

  • Identifying constraints or bottlenecks inherent in the implementation phase;
  • Assessing the actual benefits and the number of people who benefited;
    Providing ideas on the strength of the project, for replication;
  • Providing a clear picture of the extent to which the intended objectives of the project have been realized.

With enhanced evaluation capacity, programs will be able to:

  • Help assess the end result of program activities, document what was achieved, and measure the impact
  • Improve future program design, implementation, and monitoring by documenting successful strategies, potential pitfalls, and effective preventive measures
  • Help with accountability with the donors and the communities

Purpose of Evaluation:

There are different reasons for evaluating a project.

  • To find out if the project has achieved its objectives
  • look at how the objectives are achieved
  • To find out if the project has made any impact
  • To find out if the project was efficient
  • To find out the strengths and weaknesses
  • To find out if the project can be replicated
  • To feedback to our donors
  • To plan for the future especially looking at sustainability

How to evaluate:

There are different methods for evaluating a project

  • Interview with the key people
  • Questioner comparing with the baseline
  • Use focused group discussion in subjective view
  • Look at cost-effectiveness
  • look at sustainability, appropriateness, participation, and connectedness

With enhanced evaluation capacity program would be able to highlight its achievements and learn from its experiences.

Summary of the Relationship:

  • Planning describes ways in which implementation and monitoring should be done;
  • Implementation and monitoring are guided by the project work plan;
  • Monitoring provides information for project planning and implementation;


Reporting refers to preparing documents related to the overall program and individual projects. These documents capture and present in a concise manner the progress being achieved against targets and objectives. With enhanced reporting capacity should:

  • Lead to the production of regular documents about the overall program as well as individual projects
  • Create greater awareness about programs/projects amongst various stakeholders
  • Highlight and share successes, lessons learned, and failure analyses with stakeholders
  • Lead to a depository of program and project documents and reports for future reference
  • Meet donor requirements as well as the program’s own requirements
  • Create greater unity within the projects to reflect the overall program goals, objectives, and results

With enhanced reporting capacity the program will be able to document and present its strategies and achievements to a broader audience.

Objectives of MER Unit

The overall objective of the MER Unit is

  • To contribute to enhancing Organizations’ capacity to meet its goal and purpose.

Specific objectives of the MER Unit are:

  • To increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the program and projects.
  • To contribute to the designing of high-quality programs/projects
  • To monitor the implementation of the programs/projects
  • To evaluate the programs; to measure outcomes and impact of programs/projects
  • To prepare documentation for capturing experiences and
  • To share documents/experiences across the organization, with donors, and with other stakeholders

Design a work plan

In order to draw a good work plan, the implementers should:

  • List all the tasks required to implement a project;
  • Put the tasks in the order in which they will be implemented
  • Show allocation of the responsibilities to the actor
  • Give the timing of each activity.

The work plan is a guide to project implementation and a basis for project monitoring; it is there for helps to:

  • Finish the project in time;
  • Do the right things in the right order;
  • Identify who will be responsible for what activity
  • Determine when to start project implementations

MER Key Functions:

In order to meet its objectives, MER will perform several key functions:

  • Supporting management in the development of effective human resource management, administration, and procurement systems
  • Supporting senior management in designing proposals and projects
  • Coordinating and supporting the writing of reports for internal and external purposes
  • Supporting the preparation of implementation and monitoring work plans
  • Supporting and conducting monitoring exercises using structured and participatory methods, and providing timely feedback
  • Supporting the preparation of evaluation work plans
  • Supporting and conducting evaluation exercises using structured and participatory methods
  • Collating and documenting lessons learned best practices and failure analyses
  • Developing and maintaining networking with other civil society organizations
  • Supporting the other programs to develop, operate and update their own management information systems (MIS)
  • Supporting the capacity building of staff members of programs/projects in MER
  • Leading efforts to make MER more gender-sensitive
  • Preparing methodologies and undertaking case studies
  • Supervision of interns/volunteers

Main Principles of MER

The following principles will drive MER:

  • MER staff members will be involved and work closely with program staff members for taking forward the agenda
  • Senior management will regularly inform MER staff members and program staff members about new and emerging requirements for information
  • MER staff members and program staff members will internalize the following; incorporate and highlight them in their work:
  • Relevance of Organizations Programmes and support
  • Effectiveness of Organization support
  • The efficiency of Organizations support
  • Sustainability of Organisations supported activities
  • Impact of Organizations activities
  • MER staff members will constantly work with project staff members in undertaking all analyses

MER Deliverables

A fully functional MER will prepare and deliver an annual plan for Organizations that will incorporate:

  • Four Organization quarterly reports
  • One Organization’s annual report
  • Donor reporting schedule, with dates and responsibilities, clearly set out (this is to avoid confusion between MER and projects)
  • Plan for the preparation of methodological frameworks for monitoring and evaluation of projects.
  • Plan of monitoring of project activities (developed jointly with projects)
  • Plan for undertaking evaluation of projects (developed jointly with projects)
  • Plan for writing case studies (after consultation with projects)
  • Plan for collection and collation of secondary information about project areas
  • Plan for preparing communication, education, and information (CEI) materials, e.g. brochures, leaflets, charts, etc.
  • Plan for staff development events, e.g. workshops, seminars, training sessions, etc., on MER-related issues and themes
  • Plan for review of organization’s human resource, administration, and procurement systems
  • Plan for external evaluations (in close collaboration with projects)

In addition, MER will maintain a record of project documents, i.e. proposal, baseline survey reports, interim reports submitted, final report submitted, and any evaluations. When there are opportunities, MER will provide support to senior management in designing proposals for new projects.

Relations between MER and Projects:

MER and projects must develop a clear line of responsibilities so as to foster synergy between the two. Whenever the word ‘monitoring’ or ‘evaluation’ or ‘reporting’ is used, there is a natural tendency for the project staff to expect that MER would undertake and perform these functions. Given the nature of Organizations’ operations, MER cannot and indeed should not undertake all monitoring, evaluation, and reporting (MER) functions. MER’s role is to provide support to the project staff members to undertake their own (MER) functions in an improved manner; MER’s role is to strengthen project capacities for internal MER.

Project staff members will have their own MER formats and schedules and must pursue them. MER will provide support to ensure that the internal MER functions of projects are meeting the requirements of Organizations in terms of timeliness and quality. At senior management’s behest, MER will undertake external MER functions of projects.

It is the senior management’s role to support MER and projects to develop an understanding and partnerships to take forward the Organizations’ agenda; all too often monitoring sections and project staff members become confused about their roles and this leads to inefficiency. Given the nature of the work, some functions and roles have to be undertaken by MER and some by projects. It is possible that projects also need strengthening. For example, any project identifies a need for a position that will undertake internal MER functions. This internalization will improve the timeliness and quality of the Project’s performance quality.

Once the MER Unit is structured and becomes operational within the broader framework presented, it will develop its own dynamics. It will generate its own momentum, generate its own energy; it becomes a living organism, striving for growth and for a future.

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