My name is Guillermo de la Figuera Morales, I am a Spanish civil engineer and the last four months I have been working as a volunteer in the Renewable World Kathmandu office. This short blog presents one of the projects I have been working on since my time here.
Caption: Senior Project Manager, Lata, conducts a poll.
The Renewable World Monitoring and Evaluation project (M&E) started more than two years ago with the goal of enabling the Renewable World team, donors and supporters to consistently and easily monitor impacts from the different projects and technologies implemented by Renewable World. We interview each community receiving clean energy services using purpose designed questionnaires. The information we gather helps Renewable World to analyse projects, report to stakeholders and improve its intervention model.
Before I started working with Renewable World, a set of questionnaires was developed by the Renewable World team and Dr Giovanna Speciale. Although the questionnaire design may be considered simple, it is based on thousands of hours of field work within the project communities in Nepal and Kenya. It should be understood that the conversation flow and method of obtaining information – allowing the respondents to express new and surprising ideas about the project implementation – needs to be carefully designed and follows an iterative, learning process. At the point I started working, all the Renewable World members agreed that my role was to take the final versions of the questionnaires and consolidate them into a single, well tested M&E toolset.
Now we are working together with our Nepalese partner Focus One (a local, private company) to transfer the paper questionnaires into an application for mobile phones and/or tablets. When the software development is completed (forecast for December 2014) the Renewable World M&E team will test the new application questionnaires in remote communities using a simple android tablet. Such a development not only will save 1,000’s of hours in time but will critically create consistency. The results are expected to be amazing!
The data captured in the field will be uploaded using Wi-Fi when the team returns to the office and the information will be saved into a new database without further handling or labour. On the surface such technology may not seem amazing; however, its ability to compare, analyse and collate information will dramatically increase our ability to learn from and report on the projects. the data will underpin a set of agreed, simplified KPIs, automatically comparing answers over time . Because of this, the new M&E systems will underpin transparency with all stakeholders and will lead to sophisticated impact analysis and learning. Studies are undertaken at the start of the project, providing a baseline, then at 12 and 36 months. By taking these ‘snapshots’ indicators such as, health, education and income are tracked over time and can show how the renewable energy system and related training have impacted on people’s lives.
- This information will be available from the RW website and presented as indictors, charts and graphs;
- Our donors and supporters will have real time access to all the information related to each project using a reporting tool through the web and;
- RW team members and board of trustees will be able to run and design customized analysis according to their needs and by region, country, project, community and technology.
In short – it is awesome!
Finally, the database and in the IT developments have been designed in the most flexible way, allowing Renewable World to modify, translate or expand the questionnaires and hosted on the secure Focus One server. This means Renewable World’s ongoing costs are minimal.