Module 5: Monitoring and evaluation for reintegration assistance

5.3 Implementing a monitoring framework

Monitoring reintegration programming requires systems and practices to collect and analyse data based on established monitoring frameworks. Monitoring should be ongoing throughout programme implementation to identify common obstacles; findings should be reported back to programming staff and partners so the information can be used for programme improvements.

Once the results-monitoring framework is in place, it needs to be implemented according to plan. Within the context of reintegration programming, attention should focus on some common M&E considerations:

  1. Conducting a regular review (for example during monthly meetings) of the results-monitoring framework against a detailed workplan and current expenditures. This will aid assessment of the budget, activities, results and potential risks that may affect operations.

  2. Establishing good communication channels and means to communicate on progress or results. This is useful to:

    • Adapt or improve programming according to the results. For example, if beneficiaries consistently report that they are not able to access a specific service, this can be addressed.

    • Boost team morale as well as stakeholder buy-in and mobilization.

    • Clarify expectations, roles and responsibilities.

  3. Stakeholder involvement is critical for a smooth reintegration process overall, including for M&E. Some stakeholders are directly involved in data collection while others are part of monitoring activities. Therefore, a participatory approach is required. It is important to be transparent and take feedback into consideration.

  4. Finally, attention needs to be given to data validation methods. This often involves random spot checks, interviews during provision of assistance or cross-checking a small sample of forms (such as a handover certificate) against the beneficiary (such as contacting the person listed on the certificate) and applying quality control in the beneficiary database.

This chapter presents a detailed overview of the considerations and steps to take in order to implement a monitoring framework, supported by further guidance in the annexes:

5.3.1 Common challenges when monitoring reintegration initiatives
5.3.2 Data collection, entry and clean-up
5.3.3 Data analysis and reporting

5.3.1 Common challenges when monitoring reintegration initiatives

When conducting M&E in the field of reintegration, some common challenges can be encountered at all three levels of intervention (individual, community and structural). These challenges should be considered, along with the ethical considerations mentioned in section 5.1.1. Common challenges include:

➔ Resource constraints: Often reintegration-programme implementation involves various country offices (for instance from host and origin countries). In this process, it is recommended to include appropriate resources needed both for implementation and M&E purposes. This is to avoid constraints in gathering and analysing data.

  • Recommendation: Realistically design and fund the programme to include the M&E component (human resources, coordination and transportation).

➔ Contact with the returnees: Successful monitoring depends on the willingness of returnees to participate in monitoring. This is not always a given, however, and returnees have the right to decline participation. Returnees might not want to be contacted, in particular if they feel that their reintegration process is difficult or not successful. Other programme beneficiaries (such as community members or relevant stakeholders) may not be fully aware of purpose and practice of M&E. Therefore, it is important to provide returnees and other beneficiaries with regular information about the value of receiving their feedback.

  • Recommendation: Explain the purpose of obtaining feedback in counselling sessions and create a well-established relationship between case manager and returnee.

➔ Ensuring beneficiary participation: Beneficiaries (returnees, community members and relevant stakeholders) should not be financially rewarded for their participation in M&E. However returnees and community members could receive a small stipend to cover transportation costs associated with their participation in meetings or focus group discussions, and a beverage or snack during the interview to show appreciation for their cooperation and time. This can help mitigate any financial burden associated with this participation.

  • Recommendation: Explain the purpose of obtaining feedback in counselling sessions. Use a survey to ascertain to whom beneficiaries prefer providing feedback.

➔ Transparency of the monitoring process: Staff involved in monitoring exercises should make sure that participants understand how the monitoring data will be used and that it will not have a positive or negative impact on the remaining support they are entitled to, if any, or on future migration possibilities. This should be made clear from the beginning and each time the participants are interviewed. This increases the likelihood of programme beneficiaries giving informed consent – and genuine answers, which will be useful for future programme design and implementation.

  • Recommendation: Share M&E findings with beneficiaries and reiterate to them that they are a crucial stakeholder. Emphasize that through their feedback, future programmes will be adjusted and their valuable feedback will be incorporated. Documentation resulting from monitoring should be in an easily consultable and readable form to foster transparency and legitimacy.

➔ Security: For locations that are inaccessible due to security concerns or in which returnees have demonstrated aggression towards reintegration staff during the reintegration counselling process (for instance, due to reasons that go beyond project influence), the preferred method for monitoring is over the phone. Another example of a security concern is when in certain regions of return, security and safety deteriorate throughout the implementation phase. In such cases, monitoring over the phone or videoconferencing can be considered when technology allows. Or, based on thorough assessment, monitoring could be done by implementing partners who have access to locations of concern.

  • Recommendation: If needed, use other methods of monitoring such as distance monitoring via videoconference, phone or via trusted implementing partners. Communicate changes to relevant stakeholders.

5.3.2 Data collection, entry and clean up

In order to assess progress, good-quality, reliable data needs to be available. Data collection guidance is crucial for this. This can include training for data collectors, so that they clearly understand why the data is being collected and ensure that they follow privacy and data protection principles. It is also important to have the tools and software necessary for data entry, clean up and analysis.

5.3.3 Data analysis and reporting

Turning data into evidence involves the following steps:

  1. Data management: This includes how data is organized, cleaned, verified and stored.

  2. Categorizing or calculating data (qualitative versus quantitative analysis).

  3. Validating data: This entails checking or verifying whether or not the reported progress is accurate. This can be done through triangulation, which is the process of comparing several different data sources and methods to corroborate findings and compensate for any weaknesses in the data by the strengths of other data. Triangulation can and should therefore play a major role in M&E efforts, as it can enhance the validity and reliability of existing observations about a given issue, and to identify areas for further investigation. When findings converge, this can lead to new, credible findings about an issue and can create new ways of looking at it.

  4. Developing a report based on the findings: This should include a summary of key achievements, progress made towards realizing outcomes and outputs, progress achieved with the established indicators, challenges encountered and actions taken, and finally a summary.

  5. Sharing findings: To cultivate evidence-based approach in programming, it is necessary to establish a clear plan of how to communicate M&E findings to project teams, beneficiaries and other relevant stakeholders. Feedback from partners and beneficiaries on progress and proposed actions, should be sought and addressed when possible. The report’s information may be communicated in different ways according to the target audience.