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close this bookRecording and Using Indigenous Knowledge: A Manual (IIRR, 1996, 211 p.)
close this folderPart 3 Assessment of indigenous knowledge
View the documentAssessing IK
View the documentCriteria for assessing IK
View the documentTapping assessment
View the documentUsing western science methods to assess IK
View the documentMonitoring and evaluation

Monitoring and evaluation

Monitoring is the regular collection of data on an activity, technology, social event, relationship, or some other topic. Evaluation is the analysis of these data, comparing them to set objectives. For example, monitoring and evaluating (M&E) the use of herbal medicines in a small community of some 20 households could be done through regular visits to all households, recording whether any of the household members had been sick since the last visit, whether anyone had used any herbal medicines to treat an illness or for any other purpose, whether they used any other type of drug, etc. After, let us say one year, the data would be analyzed. We might count how many households and who in each household had used herbal medicines, how many different types of herbs were used and how they were prepared, for which diseases herbal medicines were used, etc. It is important that we determine, before the monitoring starts, just what data are needed and how they will be analyzed.

M&E enable development workers to determine whether their projects are meeting their objectives and to determine what changes are needed.

Monitoring and evaluating IK

Monitoring and evaluating IK means regularly collecting data on a specific IK and analyzing the data against defined objectives.


Monitoring and evaluation

Many of the recording and assessment methods described earlier in this manual can be adapted and used to collect data for monitoring and evaluating IK. Combinations of methods afford a comprehensive analysis, allowing assessment from the insiders' end outsiders' perspectives. Such a comprehensive assessment is also useful for cross-checking and validating data through triangulation (i.e., ask the same question in different forms or ask different people).

For example, let's look at a project promoting indigenous stoves to villagers. To obtain technical data on the stoves, the project might measure the stoves' energy consumption, smoke emission and cooking efficiency under village conditions during different seasons. Parallel to this testing based on western science, regular group discussions—or some other IK assessment method—would be held to learn the villagers" experiences using the various stoves: What problems were encountered with the new stoves? Which stoves meet the villagers' needs? How can village stoves be improved, etc?

What applies to M&E activities in general, also applies to M&E of IK. We must determine from the outset of a project:

- What do we want to measure? What are the objectives of our planned M&E?
- What type of data must we collect in order to learn whether we have reached our objectives?
- What methods are best suited to collect the data?
- What methods are best suited to analyze and interpret the data?

Using IK to monitor and evaluate projects

IK can be used to monitor and evaluate projects. For example, hunters might know that the disappearance of a certain wildlife species means that a certain habitat is deteriorating. A project aiming to improve this habitat could use this information. By monitoring this indicator species, the project could gauge the effectiveness of its efforts. Or, local people might have their own way of calculating profit. A project aiming to increase the number of local enterprises in a village could use this indigenous method of record-keeping to monitor and evaluate enterprise success.

The use of IK in M&E is poorly documented. Therefore there exists no easy "recipe." But similar to the steps outlined in the sections How to use the manual and Using indigenous knowledge in development, applying IK to M&E should start with thorough documentation of any IK related to the objectives of the M&E. For example, if you want to monitor changes in the condition of the environment, make a comprehensive record of IK relating to the environment. Next, screen the recorded IK looking for any information useful for your M&E.

Or, you could ask the local people how they would monitor progress of the project. Their ideas could be very useful. You could develop an M&E approach together with them.

Finally, identified IK must be integrated into your M&E design. Again, a combination of both IK and outsiders' knowledge will probably prove most effective.

Compiled by Evelyn Mathias