How Do We Know We Are Making A Difference? Challenges Before the Practitioner of Community Monitoring Processes in Assessing Progress and Evaluating Impacts - Dr. Abhijit Das
Community based monitoring is emerging as a promising practice for improving programme effectiveness and as a key component of rights-based implementation of health programmes. One of the challenges of this approach is to demonstrate that it is yielding results. Community based monitoring is often seen as a process intensive intervention, which may not yield results in terms of changes in health ‘services’ and health ‘outcomes’ in the short term. However, it is very important in ‘empowering’ communities and in building their capacities in engaging with service providers and to negotiate better services for themselves. This paper discusses the different conceptual dimensions of community monitoring and then explores the difficulties of monitoring and assessing progress and results. It also explores a set of mechanisms for documenting and assessing progress drawing upon contemporary practice of evaluation. Using practical examples drawn from the author’s own practice and two examples of field level practice in India, the author proposes a practical methodology for assessing progress, drawing lessons and for establishing robust evidence based results in the field of community based monitoring.