A couple days ago, some friends asked me about my recent trip to Democratic Republic of Congo for the Forest Investment Program (FIP). I enthused about the forest investment projects I visited, the dedicated colleagues I met, and the value of monitoring and reporting or “M&R.” Pardon? Come again? M&R? Clearly, I had lost my friends.  

So, what is M&R and why is it so important to development projects like those supported by the FIP? I had to answer quickly. I told them about this cartoon, which I find very descriptive of what could happen without proper M&R in project management. 

M&E cartoon

Source: IFRC ME guide

Imagine sailing down a river without paying attention to where you are going. If you are not actively navigating your vessel (checking your progress toward your destination) and simply going with the flow, you may run into troubled waters like these two. The same thing happens with project monitoring. If we monitor the project’s progress, we can know if we are achieving the expected results and whether we are on track for project success or not. My friends started to understand.

A well-functioning M&R system is a critical part of good project and program management and accountability.  It provides evidence on the progress of the project. It generates reports, which ensure transparency and accountability, and allows for lessons to be shared. Furthermore, it reveals when the project is not on track to achieve its expected outputs or results, while offering paths for learning and improvements. It is a powerful tool for evidence-based decision making. M&R is a robust tool for raising funds and influencing policy.

M&R is at the core of the FIP, and this year marks the first time that pilot countries have submitted progress reports on achievements of their investment plans. To gear up for this reporting, the CIF has held M&R training workshops in FIP countries worldwide, including one in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). 

A large group of the stakeholders attended the two-day workshop in Kinshasa. Participants learned how to use the FIP monitoring and reporting toolkit. They learned how to establish baselines and targets for the common themes, established scoring criteria for other relevant co-benefit themes and discussed how to formulate the texts for the elements for narrative. Essentially, stakeholders learned how to work together to “steer their ship” through the sometimes tumultuous waters of project implementation into which the DRC will enter in earnest in 2016. All participants confirmed that the training workshop will be very valuable for the DRC’s FIP results reporting.

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