Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (MEAL) Practitioners Group
Does anticipation work? What does it mean for it to “work”? How do we find out? And if it does work, through which mechanisms does it work?
The Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (MEAL) Practitioners Group brings together people from across the anticipation community interested in generating and using evidence about anticipatory action.
Most agencies have well-established monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems in place. However, applying standard M&E tools to anticipatory action can be challenging because of the uncertainty surrounding forecasts, short lead times (how to do a baseline survey with only three days between forecast, action and anticipated hazard impact?) and fast-evolving situations. Moreover, standard monitoring tools often generate useful information on what was done and how many people were reached with assistance, but not whether it made a difference. It is important to understand whether and how those who benefitted from anticipatory action were able to avoid or cope with the impacts of extreme weather events.
Given that anticipation, while growing fast, is still a relatively new phenomenon, the MEAL practitioner group acknowledges that there is a need for more and better evidence on whether and how anticipatory action (AA) makes a difference.
What to expect from the MEAL Practitioners group
The membership brings together a wide range of expertise and experiences which constitute the most valuable resource of this group. The following is a (non-exhaustive) list of capacities and inputs that the members can make available to the group:
Experience of implementing AA at country level; working with governments in establishing AA systems, in different regions, contexts and multiple hazards.
A diverse range of research design and analytical skills; impact assessment methodologies; return-on-investment and cost-benefit analysis methods.
Experience in developing M&E and research protocols, templates and tools.
Ability to share data and evidence from different AA interventions; experience of what does and doesn’t work in generating evidence around AA; experience of capturing evidence on different elements in the AA project cycle.
Research experience in a range of thematic areas, including AA and livelihoods / food security, and resilience.
Objectives of the group
The MEAL Practitioners Group has given itself terms of reference that outline the main objectives of working together:
- Identify evidence and research priorities for AA and the different types of evidence that are relevant and required to this end. In light of these priorities:
- Discuss, develop and share methodological approaches and practical guidance, incl. templates and tools, for monitoring, evaluation and learning around AA.
- Provide a forum for sharing, reviewing and strengthening each other’s AA M&E designs, approaches, methods and tools.
- Share recent evidence on AA to encourage cross-agency learning on the evidence and impacts of AA.
- Encourage collaboration between agencies and projects in their AA M&E approaches and work towards a common understanding of good practice in generating evidence on AA, possibly developing shared core indicators for cross-project analysis.
- Discuss and provide recommendations on how evidence on AA can best be communicated and used for advocacy work.
- Share information on funding sources and opportunities for financing AA-focused research.
How we work together
The group has two main modes of engagement, both informal and interactive:
- A monthly virtual meeting, convened by one of the facilitators, usually on the last Wednesday of every month.
- An email distribution list that allows every member to send ad hoc messages to all other members for sharing information, seeking guidance or suggesting topics for discussion.
Photo by BDRCS