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How Incorporating Child-Level M&E can Magnify Economic Development

by on Sep 12, 2014  |  posted in Annual Conference, Youth  |  0 Comments

Economic development programs typically target adults as beneficiaries, and have tended to assume that the benefits they reap will naturally trickle down to the children in their households, leading to improvements in their wellbeing. However, emerging evidence reveals that the correlation between household welfare and child wellbeing is more complex than this.  In some cases, the interventions that improve household welfare may actually lead to greater burdens on children, such as more child labor and less school attendance, for example.

Economic development programs should deliberately set out to monitor and evaluate their effect on children by including child-level monitoring and evaluation in their programs. This way, practitioners will understand how their programs are affecting children, either positively or negatively, and ensure that they are doing no harm.  Using what they learn from these efforts, implementers can demonstrate how their program affects a critical indirect beneficiary population, and hypothesize how those effects translate into future (improved) health and wellbeing of those children as they become youth and then productive adults.

While children and youth make up the majority of the developing world’s population, increasing the impact of economic development programs is critical and time-sensitive. If economic development practitioners ignore their program’s impacts on children, they risk implementing similar interventions to these children when they grow to be adults, and fail to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.

The STRIVE project (Supporting Transformation by Reducing Insecurity and Vulnerability with Economic Strengthening) is developing a child monitoring and evaluation framework for practitioners using economic development programs to improve economic welfare.  Magnify Your Project’s Impact: How to Incorporate Child-Level M&E in Economic Development* is based on six years of research and testing across four distinct economic strengthening interventions in the Philippines, Afghanistan, Liberia and Mozambique.

The framework walks practitioners (including M&E experts, program managers and project directors) through the process of how to include children in program processes: logframes, monitoring systems, and evaluation design, and builds upon recommendations from Why Measuring Child-Level Impacts Can Help Achieve Lasting Economic Change.  The framework also provides guidance on how to engage with children, their caregivers and communities to define child wellbeing indicators to include in a project’s monitoring and evaluation systems.  These stakeholders can also help define and prioritize child-level monitoring indicators and outcomes and provide input on how project activities might affect children.  The framework demonstrates the process of defining common child wellbeing indicators and shows how to design appropriate monitoring and evaluation systems to collect the data, interpret the results and use them, and how to report on them.

Project Investigator, Diana Rutherford will present the framework at SEEP’s Annual Conference on September 23, 2014 at 3:15pm in a session entitled “Evidence, Equity and Age: Monitoring and Evaluating Children and Youth,” with Freedom from Hunger, Plan Canada, and the Mastercard Foundation who will provide lessons on evaluating youth financial service interventions. Participate in this session and make sure your thoughts are considered for the final publication of the framework.

*The framework will be published and available in November 2014.

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