At The Hunger Project, we believe in measuring what matters. As an organization grounded in grassroots advocacy and international development from the bottom up, understanding the extent of our interventions’ impact at the community level is paramount, and we place particular importance on our Participatory M&E System, which empowers people living in conditions of hunger and poverty to be the primary agents of their own development.
In this spirit, The Hunger Project-Senegal conducted a Monitoring and Evaluation (M+E) animator training last summer, which supplied animators with additional responsibilities and provided a forum for questions, feedback and exchange.
The training session, which took place in Louga, a town 116 miles north of Dakar, was held in addition to quarterly sessions held on participatory monitoring and evaluation throughout the year. M&E animators and the Epicenter Committee President from eight of our nine epicenters were represented at the session, along with several animators from the rest of the committees.
Libasse Sow, a Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, spoke to us about the training, the methods used to initiate dialogue and future prospects.
*Libasse’s interview has been edited and condensed.
Q: What were the essential intended outcomes of the training session?
A: One of the essential intended outcomes of this training session was to target approaches towards organizing people and their communities to self-reliance. The animators in attendance were keen on mastering the proper communication techniques needed to address this important component of the Epicenter Strategy. [Participants] asked about effective ways to solicit responses if they did not receive the relevant answer the first time they conducted an evaluation, as well as maintaining a rapport with their committee and community that would facilitate clear and direct interactions. [I] organized simulations in which the animators practiced readdressing questions to ensure they felt comfortable enough practically applying these approaches in the field.
Q: Tell us about a highlight of the training.
A: The animators’ own trajectory towards self-reliance was another highlight from this training session. [We] came prepared with training topics, but animators were encouraged to ask questions about processes that they were to eventually master on their own, such as conducting meetings, participating in and holding VCA Workshops, and initiating projects…the training session equipped the animators with the appropriate tools to carry out their assignments, otherwise propelled by their own drive and energy. An important distinction to note is the participatory system in which this session was conducted: the trainers and officers provided the tools, but the animators discussed how they might exercise them for optimum success.
The training session was conducted in Wolof and Fula, as a full knowledge of French is normally obtained through instruction in advanced education, which not all animators have undergone. Another benefit of this training session, therefore, is its service as an equalizer: an opportunity for animators to ask trainers about their concerns and receive personalized guidance. These types of training sessions are particularly important, as it clearly delineates roles and responsibilities. If they don’t know these two things they can’t do the job.
Q: What are the future plans for M+E at The Hunger Project-Senegal?
A: Looking forward [we have] plans to build off the success of this session, as well as his observations as an M&E Officer, and create a new evaluation plan, beginning in 2018. [We have] ideas for more monitoring in the field in order to ensure the quality of the information collected for M&E purposes. The act of collecting data does not pose as great a difficulty as determining its validity can.
After the completion of this training session, the animators and their committees are left to their own devices to organize their next quarterly meeting, armed, of course, with their previously established skills, and their newly reaffirmed expertise.
Read more about The Hunger Project’s Monitoring and Evaluation initiatives.