Monitoring, evaluation and learning capacity development

IIED values monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) as an important tool for research and influence to foster sustainable development. We work with NGOs, communities, and local and national authorities to enhance their institutional MEL capacities, which allows the institute to track progresses, identify spaces for improvement and ultimately inform policies and practice with evidence about what works, for whom, in what circumstances, and how and why.

March 2017 - ongoing
Stefano D'Errico

Head of monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL), Strategy and Learning

Diagram showing change at different scales (Image: Stefano D'Errico/IIED)

Diagram showing change at different scales (Photo: Stefano D'Errico/IIED)

To develop monitoring, evaluation and learning capacities at the global, national and local levels, IIED engages a wide variety of 'agents of change' from across different stakeholder groups in different countries. These act as 'would-be reformers' to improve the generation, dissemination and use of evidence for tracking progress and accelerating the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

To improve MEL capacities, systemic change is required across four key dimensions: individual change, interpersonal and network change, organisational change, and institutional change. IIED works across the four areas with a range of different partners from communities to government institutions:

  • Partnering with government agencies responsible for delivering social and economic development to further develop their assessment skills
  • Supporting the most vulnerable and marginalised communities to produce their own evidence and use it effectively to hold governments and local authorities accountable
  • Supporting international networks such as Evalpartners and EvalSDGs to advocate the added value of evaluation for sustainable development
  • Supporting Voluntary Organisations for Professional Evaluation (VOPEs) to foster the professionalisation of evaluation
  • Introducing and fostering new thinking and frameworks for assessing policies and practice on climate risk management, climate adaptation, the impact of social protection areas, the effectiveness of social learning processes, and the impact of research, and
  • Fostering shared learning and building communities of practice among public sector staff across developing countries.

Working with communities to monitor and evaluate public policies and interventions: IIED works with communities of slum dwellers and the Slum Dwellers International network to support communities carrying out enumerations and mapping of their own informal settlements. These documentation efforts are of great importance for facilitating discussions between communities and local and national authorities about improving living conditions

These initiatives are also key to understanding progress against SDG targets. For example, a study conducted by the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights has redefined global and local poverty lines by accounting for the multiple levels and the multiple dimensions of poverty. The study was conducted by the urban poor themselves with rigorous methodologies. 

IIED has also collaborated with international conservation agencies such as IUCN to help managers of protected areas (PAs) and local stakeholders to assess the positive and negative impacts of protected areas on the well-being of local communities.

IIED has helped to develop the Social Assessment for Protected Areas (SAPA) methodology, which uses free open source software, household surveys and community workshops to ensure that key stakeholders are fully engaged in designing assessments and developing recommendations. SAPA has been used in 10 protected areas in six countries in Africa.

Improving institutional capacities in monitoring evaluation and learning: 

IIED helps local and national authorities in developing countries to establish effective M&E frameworks and systems to track progress on the SDGs. This helps them to improve policies and accelerate implementation. We have:

Supporting the evaluation community of practice: IIED is an active partner of the EvalSDGs network, which advocates for embedding effective monitoring and evaluation in the SDGs. By doing so, the network aims to form a strong evaluation partnership to inform, support, measure and assess development efforts around the SDGs. 

This collaboration has produced a series of briefing papers on effective evaluation for the SDGs, which were among the most downloaded IIED publications in 2016. The fifth publication focuses on developing national evaluation capacities in the sustainable development era. 

IIED supports the implementation of the Global Evaluation Agenda 2016 – 2020 launched by Evalpartners in Kathmandu in November 2015.

Facilitating shared learning on monitoring and evaluation methods and approaches: For four decades IIED has collected and shared learning and experiences on participatory approaches in research monitoring and evaluation documented in the series Participatory Learning and Action (PLA).

IIED also organises major conferences and events to share learning on how evaluation approaches can support sustainable development. In 2015 IIED organised the 9th International Conference on Community Based Adaptation (CBA9), hosted by the Government on Kenya. The theme of the conference was 'Measuring and enhancing effective adaptation'.

Additional resources

National M&E framework for climate change: Tracking Adaptation and Measuring Development (TAMD) in Cambodia, Neha Rai, Nick Brooks, Tin Ponlok, Neth Baroda, Erin Nash (2015), IIED

Blog: Monitoring and evaluation in a local context, Susannah Fisher (2016)

Tracking Adaptation and Measuring Development: a manual for national governments, Neha Rai, Nick Brooks, Erin Nash (2015), IIED

Developing national evaluation capacities in the sustainable development era: four key challenges, Kassem El- Saddik, Dorothy Lucks, Stefano D'Errico, Thomas Schwandt, Zenda Ofir (2016), IIED Briefing Paper

A bottom up approach: identifying national standard climate change indicators in Uganda, Tracy C Kajumba, Irene Karani, Susannah Fisher (2016), IIED Country Report

Strengthening frameworks to monitor and evaluate climate adaptation in Uganda, Irene Karani, Tracy C Kajumba, Susannah Fisher, Rose Ochieng (2015), IIED Briefing Paper

Understanding the social impact of protected areas: a community perspective, Phil Franks, Rob Small (2016), IIED

Making the invisible visible: generating data on 'slums' at local, city and global scales, Anni Beukes (2015), IIED Working paper

Cooking up a storm: community-led mapping and advocacy with food vendors in Nairobi's informal settlements, Sohel Ahmed, Edwin Simiyu, Grace Githiri, Alice Sverdlik, Shadrack Mbaka (2015), IIED Working Paper

Blog: Monitoring and evaluation in Mozambique shows how to link local and national climate adaptation, Irene Karani, Melq Gomes and Simon Anderson (2014)

Why enumeration counts; documenting by the undocumented (2012), Environment and Urbanization Brief, Sage

Mapping enumerating and surveying informal settlements and cities, Sheela Patel, Carrie Baptist, Celine d'Cruz, Jockin Arputham, et al. (2012), Environment and Urbanization 24.1, Journal, Sage