The Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) at Oxfam India plays the essential function of gathering evidence to measure the degree to which our interventions bring about sustainable changes in the lives of women and men. One of the key purposes of MEL is to enable Oxfam India as a whole to communicate, to both internal and external stakeholders, about their scope and scale of the work and effectiveness of their interventions.
Monitoring: Monitoring systems are meant to track project progress in a concurrent manner. Through regular (monthly/quarterly) monitoring, we essentially track the following across programmes and themes:
Evaluation: Evaluation is one of the most critical functions towards assessing effectiveness and generating lessons. It also encourages the culture of transparency and public accountability within the organisation. As a policy, all programmes go through independent evaluation, and if required mid-term evaluations. Further, Oxfam India also undertakes strategic or thematic evaluations cutting across programmes.
We encourage the use of both quantitative and qualitative methods, depending on the nature of data required. We ensure that all evaluations must be made available to stakeholders and constituents in ways that allow them to fully understand the strengths, weaknesses and progress of Oxfam India’s work.
Learning: Learning for improving is one of the key drivers for Oxfams. While programmes have inbuilt opportunities for documenting and sharing lessons, the MEL activities provide several defined ways to ensure that learning is generated, synthesised and used for improving performance. Wherever required, we use various means to evaluate our programmes during implementation. Peer learning exercise across teams, partners, and locations are a common method used by our programme managers. Practice notes, Learning Reports and documenting strategies also provide ample resource to gauge how we are doing and what needs to change.
Moving Forward: Oxfam India’s strategy for 2016-20 suggests to set up explicit and clear mechanisms for partners and the community to influence programmatic strategies, decisions, revisions, and definitions of and future declarations of success or failure. It also encourages investments in systems and capacities to support MEL and recommends that a certain percentage of programme budgets should be allocated to MEL activities.