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Evaluation and Monitoring

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Evaluation and Monitoring are two important pillars for assessment of any policy, programme, project or scheme. Both the terms are often used to understand the impact of policies in achieving the desired outcomes. The subtle difference between the two are brought out as follows:

Monitoring is a continuous assessment that aims at providing all stakeholders with detailed information on the progress or delay of the ongoing scheme/programme. Its purpose is to determine if the outputs, outcomes have been reached as per the targets set so that action can be taken to correct any deficiencies and help in improving performance and achieving results. It establishes links between past, present and future actions.

Evaluation is a process to assess the progress and performance of policies, programmes and projects. It is a process by which the outputs, outcomes and impact of policies programmes are examined to see whether the targets have been achieved. There are two types of evaluation – (i) midcourse or concurrent evaluation; (ii) impact evaluation. Midcourse/concurrent evaluation - It is to be done within a short period of time so that the findings can be used to take prompt remedial action. Such evaluations are done as internal exercise.Impact evaluation – It is done after the programme/projects are completed, hence no corrective measures can be taken. However it is useful for improving future policies, programmes and projects. 

Benefits of Monitoring and Evaluation
Monitoring and Evaluation helps programme implementers to determine the extent to which the programme/project is on track and to make any needed corrections accordingly; make informed decisions regarding operations management and service delivery; ensure the most effective and efficient use of resources; evaluate the extent to which the programme/project is having or has had the desired impact.

Difference between monitoring and evaluation
Monitoring is an on-going analysis of progress of project/programmes towards achieving the targets with the purpose of improving management decision making whereas Evaluation is an assessment of the efficiency, impact, relevance and sustainability of the programmes/projects.Monitoring is the responsibility of the internal management whereas Evaluation is undertaken by external agencies.Monitoring helps in checking progress, taking remedial actions whereas Evaluation comes up with recommendations for future programmes and provides accountability.Monitoring is a short term process and does not take into consideration the impact and outcomes unlike the Evaluation process which assesses the outcomes and the longer term impact.The purpose of monitoring lies in providing constructive suggestions like rescheduling of project if required, allotment of more budget, etc. whereas Evaluation verifies the real benefits of the projects and aims for the future planning of projects/programmes.

Challenges to Monitoring and Evaluation Systems
The challenges are as follows:

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