How can a good system of monitoring and evaluation design help assess impact?

fundamental step in the evaluation framework is developing clarity on the design needed to understand if a complex intervention is “working”.  A good design can help rule out alternative explanations for changes in key outcomes over time. Elements to consider for the design include:

  • Reflection on what successful impact means for a complex intervention;
  • Clarity on the timeline of impact;
  • Clear and reliable measures to study the impact of the complex intervention – the measures need to be informed by the theory of change;
  • Measures of the dynamic contexts and mechanisms that might be necessary for the intervention to work;

Ideally the design needs to integrate both monitoring and evaluation approaches. Monitoring aims to study progress against selected indicators and measures the system indicators progress against targeted goals. Evaluations, on the other hand, study the “why” or “why not” of performance and attempt to provide remedial action if the performance is not up to expectations.

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