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Shaking Up the System: How to Decolonize Your Monitoring & Evaluation Practices

You may have heard the words "Decolonizing Monitoring and Evaluation practices". But what what does that even mean? I will try to break it down in this blogpost.

What is Decolonization All About?

Decolonization is about challenging and changing the power imbalances that have been around since colonial times. It’s about questioning who gets to make decisions, whose knowledge is valued, and making sure everyone has a fair seat at the table.

Imagine you’re working on a project to improve access to clean water. A colonial approach might mean coming in with a pre-set plan, using technical jargon, and relying heavily on quantitative data.

Other colonial practices in M&E include only valuing data that’s quantifiable (think numbers and statistics), sidelining local knowledge, or making assumptions about what success looks like without checking in with the communities we’re trying to help

A decolonized approach is one that would involve sitting down with the community, understanding their needs and knowledge about water sources, and using a mix of data types to measure success

Why Should We Care About Decolonizing Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E)?

Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) is like the Global Positioning System (GPS) for programs and policies; it helps us understand if we are on the right track. But here’s the kicker – what if our GPS is only programmed to take us on one route, a route that might not be the best for everyone?

That’s what happens when our M&E practices are still stuck in colonial ways of thinking. It's time to re-route.

Decolonized M&E practices are all about inclusivity and respect. It means valuing different types of knowledge (yes, even the qualitative, story-based stuff!), genuinely listening to local communities, and co-creating solutions.

So, What’s the Way Forward?

Decolonizing M&E is not a one-time deal; it’s an ongoing journey. It’s about being mindful, asking questions, and being open to learning and unlearning.

It is about reflecting on biases. For example, constantly examining our own assumptions, biases, and the power dynamics at play in your work.

It is also about ensuring cultural sensitivity. Being mindful of cultural nuances and ensuring that the evaluation process is respectful and relevant to the local context.

It is also about fostering inclusive partnerships; building genuine, collaborative relationships with local communities, ensuring their active participation in the evaluation process,

A decolonised approach means investing in local expertise. That is, supporting the development of local M&E skills and infrastructure, providing necessary training and resources.

It is about the use of participatory M&E approaches that actively involve local communities in all phases of the evaluation process,

It is also about advocating for change. This is using our influence to push for more equitable and inclusive M&E practices within our organization and the broader development sector.

Curious to hear how you can make monitoring and Evaluation practices fairer, more respectful, and truly inclusive? Then join the FREE webinar on 9 November 2023 at 12 noon CEST.

The webinar will be a panel discussion with guest speakers Nur Hidayati, Sanjukta Moorthy and Arjan Koeslag.


Very informative piece!

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​​​Ann-Murray Brown

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