Monitoring & Evaluation
Our Monitoring & Evaluation program is something we take very seriously. It is not our aim to remain in these villages as an ever-present entity. In fact it is quite the opposite. We want to break the systemic dependence on foreign aid and build community capacity to climb the development ladder themselves.
Our program is designed to help them get their firm footing on the bottom rungs. This project must be sustainable through the self-reliance of the communities themselves; however, as this is most often the first time the communities have mobilized themselves like this, empowerment and building capacity takes time and support.
The initial 4 months when we conduct projects are important for developing the skills, but one of the most important actions we take is the moment we officially hand over the project to the community, take a step back, and leave the sustainability in their hands.
We understand the Water Oversight Committee's inherent vulnerability in their new roles and greatly support them during the following 6 months. We communicate weekly, and many times the Committee asks our advice, asks to remind them how to do things, or even attend their meetings with the community so that they are supported in their new leadership roles.
We conduct in-depth surveys before and after we implement projects. Our staff performs reports and surveys in the communities after the completion of a project on a regular basis. As noted in the slide about Community-Led Monitoring , the Committee is required to fill out forms for the various roles they are responsible for.
We monitor these forms and the project as a whole every 3 months for the first year, every 6 months for years 2-3, and yearly after that. We also conduct our own Maintenance Check of the borehole and pump before 1 year date of completion to ensure the infrastructure is working as designed. Our goal is to have the community entirely self-reliant 3 years after the completion.
Monitor & Support
One of the advantages of being a smaller organization at this point is our ability to respond to things quickly, discuss output results as a team, and experiment with new methodologies to continually improve our impact with the beneficiaries we serve.
It is imperative to remember that we are not an organization that simply puts in infrastructure - in fact, that is only the beginning. We deal with the community and are trying to influence behavior change. Thus, no single solution works universally, and a perfect strategy in theory may just not work in the real situations on the ground.
Over the last 7 years, we have made enormous gains in our effectiveness through this open methodology - and have been pleased to share these success strategies to other organizations. We have had unique success with our evolving approaches to:
Community selection, buy-in, and initial triggering;
CLTS strategy and the use of incentives;
Solar technology for water distribution;
Community sustainability of the projects.
Monitoring & Evaluation
In order for the community to embrace ownership and self-reliance for the project's future, they must also be rigorous with their internal Monitoring & Evaluation. Water Underground provides (and thoroughly explains) documents for Balance/Expense Sheets (especially for community transparency, given that they are contributing funds), agriculture metrics, official user registration, and most importantly, well maintenance and repair.
Water Underground requires that the Division of Maintenance & Repair within the Water Oversight Committee fill out weekly & monthly maintenance forms and record all necessary information about repairs made. Maintenance is essential and yearly replacement of certain parts is important to avoid major problems.
Surely, sometimes major things happen outside of the control of the Committee. In these circumstances, Water Underground will support the major repairs if the community has done their step in conducting regular maintenance and recording their efforts.
This is - at the end of the day - the community's project, not Water Underground's. If we do our step, the community must do theirs. This may seem like a hard stance, but in order to stop a systemic dependence on foreign aid by empowering others to lift themselves out of poverty, then the practice of ownership is imperative.