Through my company Capturing Development, I (Marlen Arkesteijn) support NGOs and research institutes active in the field of nature conservation, agriculture and poverty alleviation in planning, monitoring and evaluation (PM&E) mechanisms that promote learning.
The core of good monitoring and evaluation practices lies -in my view- in curiosity combined with the need for change: Wanting to know how your interventions contribute to lasting sustainable change and exploring how interventions can be made more effective.
Currently we are using 50 per cent more resources than our Earth can provide (see e.g. Living Planet report 2012). To ensure that both human beings and other living creatures on this planet can live in harmony and have sufficient space, clean water, air and food, transformative change is needed. One of the keys lies in changing our consumption and production patterns, at all levels. Individuals (you and me), organisations, companies, governments all need to change their practices and -maybe even more important- the rules that (re-)produce these practices and sustain the current system.
For transformational change of practices and rules there are no (simple) recipies. Many times it is a matter of questioning assumptions, of trial and error, exploring what works, what does not, and why. Capturing Development supports NGOs in this exploration. I facilitate collaborative inquiries and research, trying to make differing roles, perspectives and assumptions explicit, conduct evaluations and reviews (preferably collectively with staff to embedd results and lessons), support the development and structuration of M&E practices within NGOs, encourage double loop learning and system learning (moving towards questioning our ways of thinking, our problem definitions) etc.
Tools and methods (both qualitative and quantitative) can be helpful (but not leading) in these ventures: I have good experiences with Outcomes Mapping, Most Significant Change, Reflexive Monitoring in Action, (action research), Survey Monkey, surveys etc.
Besides, whenever relevant and usefull, I use visuals (videos and photographs) in my assignments to facilitate internal communication and reflection (see Visual M&E).
Video made by staff of Masindi Farmers’ Association on Gender Impact, after I trained them in camera, editing, interviewing and gender framework.
Capturing Development is owned by Marlen Arkesteijn (see ‘Who is Capturing Development?’). Although self-employed, I frequently work together with other professionals.
With Barbara van Mierlo, working at the Wageningen University/ Communication and Innovation Science, I work on Reflexive Monitoring in Action, an M&E methodology especially developed for learning for social innovation and system change.