Monitoring and evaluation in community development led by a corporate
Corporate Social Responsibility has been a big word in the private sector in the name of sustainable business management. More and more companies are endeavoring to be a positive influence on the improvement of society where they belong to. In line with this, regional development is one of many areas where corporates are taking parts.
But, considering the inherent lack of experience and knowledge in what regional development means and should be carried out, it is indispensable for a company, to a great extent, to outsource the work to individuals or organizations acknowledged for their expertise in the field of community development. No matter what a good partner may be found, however, it is a huge responsibility for a company to properly monitor and evaluate the work outsourced; sometimes this is overlooked because corporates still consider CSR as an act of charity in which only the receipt of act of donation remains significant.
Here is a case in Ethiopia to be reflected. In need for monitoring and evaluation of a rural development project, a consulting team consisting of a professor and 3 graduate students was assigned to conduct a research and interview with the beneficiaries of the project to get their feedback for analysis. Being rushed in schedule, the team could not get through the detail of the project thoroughly in advance and they could not be understand the essence of the project until they left the country due to the short period of visit.
In many cases yet, unfortunately, consulting experts in the filed of community development are still asked to dive into the work without a contextual understanding of what they are assigned for. Consequently they are good at making a report based on the related academic and field knowledge accumulated from other projects, but not the one that needs their experience to be part of. Although it may do something valuable for their own reference or third person review, it certainly adds little value to a project because such report ends up being made irrelevant and invalid of the reality.
For this reason, this writing emphasizes that it is necessary for a project in community development to keep professional personnel for monitoring and evaluating consistent from the very beginning of the project. This means to involve the same experts even with a baseline study of a project so that the work can be conducted based on the data accumulated comprehensively in reflection of what is really going around. At the same time, the task team should try not to look into the work without any attached interest, but train themselves to develop a fresh eye to secure objectiveness.
Moreover, the work of monitoring and evaluation can be performed effectively when it is incorporated with a meaningful intervention from the field practitioners. This is important because there is a certain perspectives that are only acquired by those in the field. For example, questionnaires better be reviewed by the project team for its validity and possible correspondents should be considered appropriately based on their roles and responsibilities. Survey design also has to be constructed with the help of local staffs like project manager or project coordinators.
In conclusion, monitoring and evaluation is a significant part of implementing community development, and thereby it requires a rightful amount of attention and preparation. It also needs an incorporation of familiar and unfamiliar perspectives. What is more important is that all these should be managed by a corporate eventually, who, for this reason, must develop themselves to be capable of so.