Monitoring in practice
As you have seen, a key part of monitoring is the gathering of data.
Data can be classified into two types. Factual information based on measurement is called quantitative data. Information collected about opinions and views is called qualitative data.
Suggest examples of quantitative and qualitative data that could be collected about open defecation in a district
Collecting data about the change in the proportion of people practising open defecation is an example of quantitative data. An example of qualitative data could be assessing people’s views about the reduction of open defecation. You may have thought of other examples.
If you look back to Figure 5.1 in Study Session 5, you will find an example of quantitative monitoring data. The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Party data for sanitation coverage is compiled from monitoring programmes in countries all over the world.
Key features of monitoring
Monitoring is a continuous or periodic review of project implementation focusing on inputs, activity work schedules and outputs. It should be designed to provide constant feedback to ensure effective (the extent to which the purpose has been achieved or is expected to be achieved) and efficient (to what degree the outputs achieved are derived from well organised use of resources) project performance. Monitoring should allow the timely identification and correction of deviations in a programme. It should provide early warning or the opportunity to remedy undesirable situations before damage occurs or gets worse.
Monitoring consists of three related activities, which are:
- Collection of data and information - for example, to monitor the proper use of sanitation facilities, data can be collected from various different sources such as regular household visits and observation of the amount and frequency of faecal matter outside the latrine. Information can be gathered from community questionnaires and reports from focus groups.
- Information analysis - data should be analysed in terms of place, time and who was surveyed in order to summarise the results. If the data suggests there are problems, appropriate management action needs to be taken.
- Action based on monitoring feedback - if, for example, after analysing monitoring data on household waste management, you find most households do not separate their wastes into organic and non-organic types, there are three types of action you can take.
- Corrective actions– you could provide practical demonstrations to show the people how to separate household wastes and how to store it properly.
- Positive reinforcement – if some households practise the required behaviour and are separating their waste they can be used as a good example to others.
- Preventive actions that will stop the problem arising in future – for example, arranging an education and promotion programme for the community. This could encourage behaviour change by showing the impact of non-compliance and the benefits to the wider community and the environment if wastes are separated at source. Peer pressure can be an important factor in communities. Highlighting the negative impact of non-compliance to individuals or communities can be a useful approach.
Monitoring should be a continuous process of regularly and systematically reviewing achievements, performance and progress towards the planned objectives of a programme. This will require a schedule for monitoring activities that should be prepared at the start and reviewed regularly. For example, a typical schedule for monitoring at the District Health Office level would be part of an annual plan and might include:
- monthly field visits
- monthly, quarterly, annual and biannual reports
- annual and biannual review meetings.