Updated: Jun 3
In a continuation of my articles on demystifying Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E), I will describe one of the major crimes committed in this field
On the M & E Most Wanted list is “The Imposter.”
Crime: An Activity that pretends to be an Output
This villain is good at confusing persons and as a result, programme activities such as organising workshops and seminars are listed as outputs.
However, outputs are not completed programme activities.
Rather, outputs are the tangible changes in products and services, new skills or abilities that result from the completion of several activities.
On the other hand, activities are actions taken, or work performed through which inputs, such as funds, technical assistance and other types of resources are mobilized to produce specific outputs.
For example, in a Community and School Disaster Management (DM) Project, one of the aims is to develop a School Disaster Management Plan. In order to achieve this, the following activities are undertaken.
These activities include having community and school meetings, training teachers in Disaster Management and reviewing current awareness materials.
Once all these activities are completed, a School Disaster Management Plan is produced. Outputs are deliverables. Using the definition of an output, it becomes easier to separate activities from outputs.
Are having school meetings, training teachers or reviewing documents tangible changes? Are they new skills or abilities? The answer is no.
Rather, the development of a School Disaster Plan is the new and tangible product that resulted from the multiple activities. It is a deliverable. Discussions from the school meetings, the training and the review of the awareness materials all resulted in an output; that of developing the School Disaster Plan.
A tip to identify activities is the that they are usually worded as verbs - e.g. ‘Hire consultant’, 'Organise workshop', ‘Rent venue’. Afterall, activities are what you 'do' or carry out during the project implementation.
The table below gives you an idea of the many disguises that the imposter will assume.
You can use the knowledge within this article to unmask the Imposter, so he can no longer pretend to be an output, when he is really an activity.
Please feel free to use the 'Comments' section to share you own “M&E crime” stories and your suggestions on how we can bring these villains to justice. You can assist in their capture by circulating this bulletin within your professional circles and by arming persons with knowledge from your own experiences.
Thanks for your kind attention and hopefully you know enough to prevent you from falling prey to 'The Imposter'.