A Program Designer’s Response to the Pandemic: A view from an Indian lens



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  • The pandemic has given rise to different vulnerabilities and inequities (e.g., In India, the lockdown prompted a flood of reverse migration).  It has also brought about many changes in the functioning of public systems and the services we assumed would always be available.
  • Any assumptions we make about the context may no longer be valid.  An understanding of the change context becomes very important as well as factoring this into our evaluations.
  • M&E has been largely project-focused/project-driven. It has been less focused on unravelling and bringing to light new vulnerabilities or rising inequities. To do this requires more independence in framing the M&E agenda, enlarging the scope to not only look at program activities but also new issues that may have arisen.
  • COVID-19 has spurred us to look at the need to use data for developmental purposes for internal learning.  For this, acceptance of data both within the organization and outside becomes very important. Building collaboration thus becomes very important, and all the skills that are required for building collaboration assume a much greater significance.
  • Real-time monitoring has assumed a much greater role.  As evaluators, we need to proactively equip ourselves with new technologies. Generally, there is resistance to accept the data.  The first step in bringing about change involves thinking about how to overcome this resistance.  More collaboration, sharing, and transparency about our methods is needed.  We also need to be more rigorous with our data validation.
  • COVID has encouraged us to become more conscious of the importance of humanitarian work. Our monitoring systems have also been nudged to respond to the compulsions of measuring humanitarian work and integrating it with the other kinds of development work we have been doing.
  • There is a need for leadership in evaluation because any one organization may not have either the capacities or the bandwidth to do it on their own.