Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #16 calls for building participatory, effective, accountable institutions “at all levels”. In order to ensure the SDGs are sustainable, the people who are most affected by their community’s development should be drivers of their change. New ways of working are needed to support the decolonization of development, including monitoring and evaluation. Frameworks and tools that support true participation, grassroots innovation, and empowerment of vulnerable communities will help to catalyze this process. Within this context, Salanga promotes that any information gathered should first be owned and used by those who are impacted the most.
What is CoLMEAL?
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Salanga defines Community-Led Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (CoLMEAL) as an approach to MEAL that capacitates diverse key community members/change agents, including the marginalized and vulnerable, to continually monitor, analyze, share, and reflect on progress against their community development plans based on outcomes and indicators/metrics they define to take action to achieve their goals/vision. This synergizes well with feminist MEAL approaches.
Why use CoLMEAL?
- To ensure key community stakeholders have the power of information which enables them to:
- Track the progress of their own development plans against performance indicators they themselves choose and design;
- Analyze, make sense of, use and share results with key stakeholders and duty bearers in their community to learn and adapt their vision and plans for change in ways that are integrated into local funding and planning cycles;
- Generate evidence and recommendations that influence policy and decision-making processes;
- Hold duty-bearers and other development actors accountable for their decisions, actions, and outcomes as well as for the quality of program and service provision to the community; and
- Self-esteem building and inclusion of those who are among the most vulnerable and marginalized in target communities.
- It strengthens sustainability: When community systems are strengthened to consistently collect, review, analyze, and reflect on information that shows the progress they are making towards their goals and desired impacts, they will intuitively take action to address gaps and share their successes.
Who is CoLMEAL for?
- Communities first and foremost, usually represented by key community stakeholders, including the marginalized and vulnerable
- Organizations and their implementing partners who are interested in catalyzing the impact of their programmatic interventions and committed to strengthening sustainability by applying empowerment and participation principles to their MEAL processes.
- Donors who are interested in deepening the impact of the programs they are funding.
When can I use CoLMEAL?
- When the donor, the lead organization, its implementing partners and the project team are willing to:
- Fully test, learn and adapt the CoLMEAL process
- Allocate funds, time, staff, patience, enthusiasm and trust for the CoLMEAL process
- Be open to hearing the community perceptions, see development from the community’s worldview, and listen to the community’s feedback and recommendations
- When key community stakeholders are:
- Clear about the importance of the MEAL process and the benefits they can derive from engaging, leading and participating;
- Willing to test and learn from the CoLMEAL process; and
- Interested and have the time to participate in the process, including those who are vulnerable and marginalized.
Want to learn more? Stay-tuned for our next post “The Benefits and Challenges of CoLMEAL”. Join our mailing list below or follow us on LinkedIn so you don’t miss the next update!
If you have any questions about CoLMEAL leave them at the bottom of this post, or join our discussion on LinkedIn!