Collaborative monitoring brings together like-minded partners, who work to support more effective and efficient monitoring practices.
Monitoring is an essential component in the life cycle of projects and programmes. It helps manage to manage risk and involves the systematic and continuous collection of data to better inform decision-making. As the United Nations, international community and Government continue to plan and implement humanitarian and development programming in areas where the ability to securely gain and maintain direct physical access is limited, there is a growing recognition of the need to strengthen monitoring practices and explore new means by which such programmes can be monitored.
Effective monitoring is critical to help ensure that programmes are being delivered in the manner that is intended – and which demonstrates both effectiveness and accountability to beneficiaries, Government and Donors. The need to maintain oversight of programme activities must however be balanced with the ability to maintain the safety and security of those personnel – national and international – who work in such complex environments.
Those actors who continue to deliver programmes in environments where it is not possible to maintain a full operational presence have adopted a range of approaches to enable remote management and monitoring of such programmes and projects. Remote monitoring techniques and tools which are commonly used include: the utilisation of local staff and/or local communities to report on project progress; sub-contracting project management to, or partnering with, local organisations; maintaining contact via telephone and internet, and; conducting spot-checks and site visits on an ad-hoc basis. Such approaches, combined with the provision of progress reports and updates to programme offices have enabled the UN and NGOs to continue to operate in areas which are no longer fully accessible to their staff. The limitations and risks associated with the adoption of such approaches are however recognised – particularly when these methods become the sole means of project monitoring and verification.
In response, the United Nations Risk Management Unit has advocated for a collaborative monitoring approach. In essence, collaborative monitoring entails bringing together like-minded partners, and working together to identify ways and means in which to support each other in more effective and efficient monitoring practices.