Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (MEAL)
COVID-19 and beyond
As the COVID-19 crisis shifted from disruption to regular programming in FY21, RedR Australia’s MEAL capability focused on monitoring and analysis that addressed broader program priorities as well as the pandemic.
COVID-19 saw deployees providing humanitarian assistance remotely for the first time. As such, and in line with the COVID-19 Action Review findings, RedR gathered evidence regarding the remote deployment experience for both deployees and partners. Results conveyed the characteristics required of people, partners and positions that make for more effective remote deployments.
Periodic reporting, enhancing systems
The MEAL team led the preparation of periodic program reporting, including annual, mid-year and calendar year reporting. In addition, the team conducted regular outcomes tracking and training evaluation, provided ad hoc mentoring and resource support (links, tools, guidance notes) to deployees, and chaired the Standby Partnership (SBP) MEAL Working Group, bringing together 19 United Nations and other SBP member agencies.
As part of RedR Australia’s IT transformation project, Project PIVOT, the MEAL team revised deployment reporting templates and processes in readiness for the new system. This will result in better, more automated, and more timely deployment and program reporting.
Major MEAL projects in FY21
- Localisation Strategy and Action Plan (LAP);
- COVID-19 Action Review;
- Review of Australia Assists’ Support to the Rohingya Crisis; 2017-2020;
- Gender and Protection Outcomes Desk Review (internal).
- Preventing Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment Project, with Australian sector partners;
- Pacific Disaster Risk Management Research.
These projects will be completed and disseminated in FY22.
Australia Assists MEAL publications developed and published in FY21 include:
- Overview of RedR’s Inaugural Pacific Essentials of Humanitarian Practice Training
- Australia Assists' Support to Pacific Disaster Preparedness; 2017-2020
- One Year On: Reflecting on Disability Inclusion Outcomes and Sustainability
- Deployee Tip Sheet: Disability Inclusion
Remote work at work:
COVID-19 saw deployees providing humanitarian assistance remotely for the first time. In line with the COVID-19 Action Review findings, RedR systematically gathered evidence of the remote deployment experience for deployees and partners. In summary, this analysis can be conceptualised by asking three questions about remote support:
Q1. Is it the right position?
- Can tasks be conducted without direct access to affected populations, host organisation colleagues, or national/local leaders?
- Has the deployment Terms of Reference been tailored to accommodate remote work arrangements, rather than using a generic role profile?
- Will a dedicated counterpart work directly with the remote deployee?
Q2: Is it the right partner?
- Does the organisation regularly - and successfully - work with remote staff?
- Does the organisation have adequate internet access and IT capabilities, such as established accounts to use communication platforms such as Zoom?
- Will an online document filing system be available to the remote worker?
Q3: Is it the right person?
- Will the deployee be working from a similar time-zone (within 5 hours) of the host organisation?
- Has the deployee had previous work experience in the country or region of the host organisation?
- Has the deployee had previous work experience with the host organisation, either at the same country office or other?
Remote work effectiveness
A comparison of available Performance Evaluation Review (PER) ratings by deployment supervisors from the reporting period revealed similar average scores between in-country deployments (4.31/5 from 43 PERs) and remote deployments (4.28/5 from 26 PERs). Supervisors frequently commended remote deployees’ technical competencies, high quality performance, ability to work independently and provision of proactive support. Aware of the additional constraints posed by remote work, supervisors were, for the most part, praiseworthy of deployees’ instrumental involvement in their respective outputs.
“During a short period, [Civil-Military Coordinator] Joe was able to establish a good relationship with external partners, including the International Coalition Forces, international non-government organisations and UN agencies. He was a solid source of advice for the leadership and management of teams. He worked independently without having ever met any of the management or stakeholders in person given the remote support due to COVID-19.”
— Deputy Head of Office, OCHA Whole of Syria
“[Deployee] made every effort to deliver outputs he could remotely without having seen the premises [for an infrastructure project]. Working remotely does not allow for an ability to sense and adapt to the environment and people who are part of that environment.”
— Director of the Office and Representative to the Pacific States, UNESCO Samoa
Gender Action Plan (GAP):
Highest number of ‘fully met’ commitments in one year for the GAP to date (25/28 or 89 per cent).
Doubled the target of four gender specialists deployed per year, with eight targeted specialists.
Disability Action Plan (DAP):
Highest number of DAP targets reached to date, with 21 of 26 (81 per cent) achieved in FY21 – four more targets reached than in the previous two years.
RedR’s MEAL team continues to actively track and report on the small number of GAP and DAP commitments that remain unmet, or are ongoing. Note the LAP commenced in FY21 and monitoring is well underway.
Localisation Action Plan (LAP):
40% of LAP commitments were fully met within the first nine months of implementation.