RIU’s Approach to MIL
Monitoring impact and learning (MIL) is one RIU’s five interlinked themes that will facilitate the process of applying research. The MIL theme is also linked to its Impact Evaluation Objective (2011) that aims to produce high quality evaluation evidence that significantly increases understanding of how â€˜research into use’ can best contribute to poverty reduction and economic growth. Through the MIL process RIU seeks to respond to the following three key questions:
- In the intervention, what worked, where, for whom, why and how?
- What preconditions are necessary to scale up the learning in different countries?
- What is the impact of RIU?
Which in turn would lead to three main outputs: (i) demonstrate significant use of research, (ii) generate evidence of research in use, and (iii) influence policy processes.
The main components of the MIL are:
- Log frame – which defines the purpose, outcomes, outputs, activities, and indicators of the intervention
- Baseline data – benchmark to identify factors that facilitated project impacts
- Innovation journal – to capture the experience of the process of change
- Impact journal – help map the processes that led to the impacts
MIL in the CoDI Project
CoDI partners recognize the need for a continuous impact assessment process (as opposed to a one time impact assessment) and are developing strategies to establish a comprehensive MIL system that is aligned with RIU’s approach. Though one partner (Winrock International India) has been assigned the responsibility of developing and managing the MIL system, all CoDI partners realize the importance of an inclusive, interactive and flexible approach, which is a combined effort rather than being driven by a single partner. This concerted approach has been adopted to foster a common understanding among all partners and to ensure that field level limitations are defined and addressed so that the MIL system has greater applicability and relevance.
A number of tools have been designed for the implementation of the MIL system in the CoDI sites that can be broadly categorized under the following three heads: (i) a sampling protocol, (ii) data management protocol, and (iii) communication strategy. These tools, which are an appropriate mix of quantitative and qualitative techniques that are simple yet effective, help the CoDI team to:
- Define the area of influence of project activities
- Identify both direct and indirect beneficiaries
- Develop meaningful baseline data
- Establish the data chain – i.e. for each step of the data management process – from collection to analysis to archiving who is responsible
- Identify potential weaknesses in the system
- Define the parameters for tracking benefits from project activities
- Track the benefits to direct beneficiaries through the life of the project
Expert support from the Statistical Services Centre, Reading University, UK and regular training and follow up activities within the project team ensures that CoDI’s MIL system is dynamic and effective and contributes towards achieving the three main outputs sought by RIU.