BIG Data for a Small NGO: Monitoring and Evaluating our Success
By Candace Rowell, MAP International’s Health Program Development Officer
MAP International is celebrating 60 years of service to impoverished and at need people across the globe. While the mission and the heart of the organization has changed very little over the years – MAP International has evolved and is still evolving to remain a relevant player in humanitarian work.
One key area of evolving has been in the collection and sharing of data – the numbers and the stories. Who we are impacting, how are we doing it, where are the dollars going, what are the real changes in the lives of people… these questions must be answered for MAP and for you. MAP, like many other NGOs, is working to constantly improve the way we collect data in the field through improving our internal and external monitoring and evaluation (M&E) process. This process is based on establishing expected impacts and outcomes with clear and measurable indicators of success and well planned activities that set us up to accomplish our goals within a given time frame.
Whenever possible, we like to put the pencil in the hand of the community – to let the community decide what are the most relevant indicators for their successes. Through this we can see an increase in the capacity of local leaders to take ownership of different health programs, to observe first hand positive changes and to build the strength to maintain healthy conditions long after MAP is no longer in a community.
This M&E process is important for NGOs, communities and donors to understand. It helps to build a framework for addressing the most critical health concerns in an area or community and lays the pathway to accomplish collaborative goals. In the field, M&E tools are the handbook for success. They are our guide to measure where we are, where we want to be and how we get there.
In 2015, MAP was able to celebrate a number of successes. Here are some of the highlights:
- In West Africa MAP International was able to provide 33,000 personal protective suits for health care workers during the Ebola crisis as well as $18 million in medicines and supplies.
- In response to the Nepal Earthquake, MAP provided $14 million in medicines and supplies, treating over 200,000 people.
- In the Middle East, MAP provided $2 million in medical aid to Gaza and is currently preparing medical shipments for 20,000 Syrian refugees.
- MAP is continuing its development work in Ecuador, Bolivia, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Uganda, Ghana, Kenya and Indonesia reaching out to vulnerable communities and bringing hope.
Monitoring and Evaluation is quickly becoming a key area of focus for NGOs globally. From disaster relief, humanitarian crises and long-term development efforts M&E is a cornerstone of success and the new ruler by which we are all measured. The more we put into M&E and the more we expect from M&E, the better more we will have a real impact in the world.