(Self-)monitoring of the Smart Village Strategy design and implementation process
Access to the Tool :
Contact person : Edina Ocsko
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
The short guidance and related templates serve to help monitor the (smart) village strategy development & implementation process. This method was used for the purpose of monitoring, learning and drawing overall lessons of the process of smart village strategy development and implementation process in the Smart Rural 21 Project.
The tool aims to help rural communities to understand and help to overcome bottlenecks. It is important that it generally does not intend to evaluate the strategy implementation itself – that is context specific and depends on the intervention logic (objectives, actions, outputs, results, etc.) planned in individual strategies. The focus here is on the process of design & implementation, with emphasis on stakeholder engagement & participation. The tool consists of a (1) Guidance on how to use the tool (including purpose, key components, key steps and milestones), (2) Suggestions on presenting the outcomes and (3) Templates in annexes for reporting on criteria and related indicators & presentation of the outcomes (‘spiderweb’).
How does it work?
The key steps of using the tool could involve:
1) Familiarise yourself with the guidance, monitoring milestones, indicators & questions, and key steps (it might look complex at first sight, but experts who worked on it reported that it is much simpler to use then it seems at first).
2a) If you are an external “monitoring expert”, discuss with the village representative(s) the purpose of the exercise (you can share the guidance with them) and if & how far they would like to be involved in the process.
2b) If you are village representative yourself, you can move to the next step.
3) Prepare the interviews & arrange discussions with members of the community: Have (informal) discussions with the local people. Interviews do not need to be excessive. The point is to get an impression on how and how far local people (other than those directly involved in preparing the strategy) have been aware and/or involved/engaged in the process of smart village strategy development. You can organise dedicated sessions to better understand how people feel about the smart village strategy & strategy implementation process and outcomes.
4) Complete the monitoring template based on the evidence collected & your own knowledge: Based on the information that you have – your own experience about the strategy development/ implementation process, the feedback from/ discussion with village representatives (leads), community members interviewed – complete the monitoring template.
5) Draw lessons from the outcomes and plan actions to address weaker points. The spider-web presentation can help visualise where the weaker points are (i.e. dots closer to the centre). Think about the aspects where the community’s performance might be weaker and whether there are ways to address these. Plan actions with the community members.
Who is the tool for?
The tool is for leaders of local communities (or coordinators of smart village strategies) to self-assess their progress on strategy design and implementation; and for monitoring experts (who has the task to monitor the process of strategy design and implementation in a rural community) and in particular to understand stakeholder engagement in the process.
Do’s and Dont’s
- Do keep the monitoring exercise reasonable. The effort should be proportionate to the benefits that the process might bring. Monitoring could help to identify the areas where the strategy design and implementation process could be further improved.
- Do engage community members whenever possible. It is important to engage those in the assessment who have actively taken part in the designing and implementing the strategy locally. Implement ‘monitoring’ in a participatory way as much as possible. Consider providing the community with a simplified (easily understandable version) of the strategy.
- Do not be biased (neither in a positive nor in a negative way). Use as much evidence as possible to provide your ‘rating’. The assessment should be informed by as many local perspectives as possible.
- Do not treat the monitoring tool and process as a formal obligation make sure it is not a burden for them (it is also fine if they don’t want to be involved).
- Do involve external people in the monitoring. External perspective, monitoring and facilitation expertise can help to shed light on aspects that the community members might not have considered, as well as can help to develop an unbiased assessment of the dynamics in the rural community.
- Do initiate discussions about the outcomes. Monitoring is about learning from the past and improving actions as much as possible. Monitoring outcomes can inform discussions in the local community on how to improve the smart villages process.
How was the tool used already?
The tool has been used in the context of the Smart Rural 21 project to assess the progress of participant communities at two stages: (1) strategy development process assessment, and (2) strategy implementation process assessment. The monitoring served the purpose of drawing lessons – for the benefits of all interested communities – from the process. Individual monitoring reports remained internal material (were not officially published). The overall lessons contributed to the developing analytical reports, such as the report on ‘bottlenecks & enabling factors’ and the report on ‘working with people’.