Unintended consequences of monitoring & evaluation practices among NGOs In India

Anuprita Shukla, Paul Teedon, Flora Cornish, , Rachel Baker

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The development of rigorous Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) systems for HIV interventions is a current global concern. In India, the business style management of the Gates Foundation-funded Avahan programme has gained acclaim. However, such systems entail risks such as ’gaming’ and perverse incentives. We report on contemporary M&E practices in interventions for sex workers in India, from the points of views of NGOs, donors, and fieldworker observations.
Qualitative research was conducted with diverse NGOs in Maharashtra. Three datasets were collected: 6 focus groups with representatives of diverse NGOs, interviews with 10 donor representatives, and an in-depth case study of a single NGO.
NGO representatives were grateful for technical capacity-building in M&E and believed their M&E performance was crucial to survival in a competitive funding environment. However, they did not view M&E as being practically useful, describing a discrepancy between measured indicators and the perceived ‘real work’. Further, they described ‘gaming’ behaviour, where workers sought to meet targets in ways that were unethical or inconsistent with program aims.
Donors were aware of unintended consequences of M&E, but did not act to change them. They reported feeling powerless to change a flawed system. They argued that rigorous M&E is important because workers’ intrinsic motivation is often so low, and accountability so weak, that without M&E, no work will be done.
Data captured through apparently rigorous M&E systems may be seriously flawed. The role of M&E in learning and improving practice is not being capitalised upon. Donors need to be aware of potential unintended consequences of M&E systems, and to enable NGOs to benefit, rather than suffer, from M&E.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • monitoring & evaluation
  • managerialism
  • India
  • sex workers
  • donors


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