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Niti Aayog Hails PHDMA’s Narrative-based Monitoring and Evaluation

Bhubaneswar: Roopa Roshan Sahoo, Member Secretary of the Poverty and Human Development Monitoring Agency (PHDMA), delivered a keynote address at the National Conference for Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (NCEML-2024) organized by the Development Monitoring and Evaluation Office (DMEO), NITI Aayog. Her presentation focused on the qualitative monitoring methods employed by PHDMA to analyze impacts, emphasizing the agency’s commitment to capturing the lived realities of people on the ground across Odisha, including both beneficiaries and frontline functionaries.

The conference, held at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi under the theme “Measuring Impact to Shaping Policies,” aimed to facilitate solution-driven discussions, bringing together stakeholders from national and state governments, sectoral experts, academia, and international non-governmental organizations dedicated to advancing M&E practices.

As a panelist in the session titled, “Mastering Monitoring: Insights from State-Adopted Best Practices (Unlocking Efficiency, Transparency, and Accountability for Tomorrow’s Governance),” Sahoo elaborated on PHDMA’s qualitative monitoring approach, which prioritizes the experiences of individuals over quantitative metrics. Unlike traditional monitoring methods that focus solely on quantifiable outcomes, PHDMA’s approach sheds light on the real impact of initiatives on people’s lives.

Operating as an autonomous organization under the Planning & Convergence Department of the Government of Odisha, PHDMA has played a pivotal role in assessing the impact of welfare measures and shaping policies through its innovative monitoring and evaluation practices. Over the past four years, the agency has undertaken people-centric, narrative-based monitoring, evaluation, and documentation of multi-sectoral interventions aimed at poverty eradication, reducing inequalities, and promoting shared prosperity in the state.

Assessing Multiple Inputs:

“At PHDMA, we collect and collate narratives from individuals or households to understand impact. Well-being is the result of a combination of interventions, and no household relies solely on one beneficiary or scheme. By engaging with multiple beneficiaries within households, observing their surroundings, and visually documenting ground realities, we assess impact comprehensively. Statistics alone cannot convey the full story,” Sahoo emphasized during the panel discussion.

PHDMA’s qualitative monitoring approach has enabled the agency to identify areas for improvement and course correction within governance mechanisms. Recognizing the complexity of addressing wicked problems, PHDMA has reimagined its approach, prioritizing people and their stories through techniques such as deep listening, field observation, and sense-making.

Highlighting Impact Assessment Studies:

Sahoo highlighted several impactful impact assessment studies conducted by PHDMA, including the “Swabhiman Tales” project in the Swabhiman Anchal of Malkangiri district, which showcased the transformative impact of development initiatives following the construction of the Gurupriya bridge. Similarly, studies in Rayagada, Nabarangpur, and Nuapada districts assessed the availability of services based on the Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) report, providing valuable insights for policy formulation.

PHDMA’s qualitative monitoring practices have played a pivotal role in shaping policies and fostering inclusive development, as evidenced by its various studies.

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