15.1.2 Why is M&E so important?
A well-managed M&E system will allow stakeholders to:
- Track progress: M&E assesses inputs (expenditure), outputs and outcomes, which enables managers to track progress towards achieving specific objectives.
- Measure impact: M&E reduces guesswork and possible bias in reporting results by asking questions such as: What is the impact of the programme? Are the expected benefits being realised? Is sanitation improving? Are waste recovery rates increasing?
- Increase accountability: M&E can provide the basis for accountability if the information gathered by the M&E process is reported and shared with users and other stakeholders at all levels.
- Inform decision making:M&E provides evidence about the successes and failures of current and past projects that planners and managers need to make decisions about future projects. It should also encourage reflection on lessons learned in which managers ask themselves questions like ‘what worked well in this project?’ and ‘what can we do better next time?’.
- Encourage investment:a credible M&E system builds trust and confidence from government and donors which will increase possibilities of further investment.
- Build capacity: a sound M&E system supports community participation and responsibility. It encourages the user communities to look regularly at how well their sanitation and waste schemes are working, what changes need to take place in sanitation and waste behaviours, what health benefits are resulting and what more needs to be done. It enables a community to build its own capacity, recognise its own successes and record them regularly.
Reporting on monitoring activity is essential because otherwise the information cannot be used. It is no use collecting data and then filing it away without sharing it. As noted above, one of the reasons for undertaking M&E is to inform decision makers and enable lessons to be learned and therefore they need to be provided with the information in a timely way for that benefit to be realised.