With official statistics indicating that more than 40 percent of Nigerians live below the poverty line even before the onslaught of the Covid-19 crises, there has understandably been a renewed focus on the role of social development programmes in alleviating the plight of Nigerians currently living or at risk of falling below the poverty line.
Garden Social Ventures (GSV), as part of its efforts towards ensuring social protection and development initiatives successfully deliver on their mandates, recently hosted social sector professionals to a special training on effective measurement and evaluation practices in the social services space.
Themed, Building Resilient and Effective Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Systems towards Scaling Social Impact, the event featured several sessions dwelling on the imperative of M&E systems in executing social development programmes; and was hosted at Vibranium Valley, Ikeja, Lagos as well as via online meeting platform, Zoom.
Speaking on the significance of the event, Chief Executive Officer, Venture Garden Group, (GSV’s parent company), Bunmi Akinyemiju said, “While expenditure in social assistance or protection programmes can definitely be better given our dire situation –Nigeria spent just about 2% of its GDP in 2019 on such programmes against the 5.6% annual spend recommended by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) – we felt the need to ensure that the efficiency and effectiveness of the current investments. This informed our decision to put together a training to help stakeholders in the social development sector to execute impactful initiatives.
We also recently launched Trail, a monitoring and evaluation solution that allows funders, mission-driven and sustainability-focused organizations to easily measure and manage the impact of their social and environmental programmes; and we felt the event was a good platform to showcase this product”.
Setting the tone for the day’s event, Senior Manager, GSV, Funmilayo Ikujenyo, stated in her welcome address that despite multiple valuable natural resources, Nigeria is plagued with several socio-economic challenges. This thus forms the need for social protection and development initiatives designed to tackle today’s social challenges.
“With succeeding regimes introducing diverse interventions and programmes for social impact, there has been limited impact or insight as to how well the efforts are holistically solving Nigeria’s social challenges. The fact is, many of these laudable initiatives have not recorded visible impact at the national scale due to poor programme design, data inefficiencies, lack of accountability, mismanagement of funds amongst a plethora of issues. Besides, there is a lack of continuity and scalability needed to sustain the impacts of the initiatives in Nigeria. Hence, the need for robust and efficient Monitoring and Evaluation System” explained Ikujenyo.
Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning (MERL) professional, Olumide Emeralds, who facilitated the M&E bootcamp session, emphasized the importance of building an effective M&E framework for delivering on social sector project mandates.
According to the expert, “The weaker your M&E system, the higher the likelihood that your programme will not achieve the expected result. There is a strong connection between M&E and research, but it stands on its own at the end of the day. The models of M&E are the connectors to our programmes which are our activities, input, outcome and our impacts. Outcomes and impacts can be seen as the same thing, but it depends on the kind of projects and your target audience.
M&E Systems helps us to measure the impact of our projects and programmes by identifying our outcomes and outlining indicators that will help us detect the right activities which will help us achieve the expected impact.”
GSV also demonstrated its newly launched M&E product –Trail. The solution, which is a centralized platform that consolidates programme data from different sources, allows users to assess the impact of social programmes across different locations by enabling data collection, ﬁeld reporting and programme evaluation.
Guests at the event expressed delight at the quality of the training and thanked GSV for making such an enlightening session free-of-charge.
Rowland Ugiangbe, a staff of Health Emergency Initiative -HEI said, “The programme was insightful and the facilitator made us understand that M&E is a continuous process that helps to solve problems between output and outcomes. I look forward to learning more from the industry experts like Olumide Emeralds and I also enjoyed the VGG workplace style, office design and the environment.”
Simbiat Awe on her own part disclosed that, “The M&E Bootcamp was very enlightening. As a co-founder of an NGO, the programme was an eye-opener and exposed us to very useful tools to help our projects. We hope to subscribe to the M&E tools as soon as possible.”
Since May 2012, GSV has supported the design and delivery of programmes addressing social challenges by providing sustainable innovative solutions and technology for impact assurance initiatives.
It will be recalled that the company hosted a Social Sector Dialogue in May 2020 where leading lights in the Nigerian social services sector discussed how social sector initiatives can alleviate the negative impact of the Covid-19 crisis.