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Monitoring & Evaluation

Improving and strengthening programs and informing future efforts to ensure accountability.

Why Our Work Matters 

Our rigorous and innovative approach to monitoring and evaluation reflects a commitment to continuously improving our programming, capturing and communicating our results, ensuring resources are invested in programs that produce results, and helping to advance the field of democracy and governance work. 

Our work is focused on collecting objective evidence of program effectiveness, and using this data to improve and strengthen existing programs to inform future efforts.  By doing this, we ensure accountability not only to our funders and partners, but also to the people in the countries where we work. 

Our monitoring and evaluation philosophy is guided by the following four principles: 

  • We adhere to the highest standards of objectivity, rigor and ethics, including guidelines established by the American Evaluation Association (AEA). 
  • Our monitoring and evaluation initiatives are participatory and focused on use, resulting in relevant findings that show the impact of our work and that inform future programs. 
  • In monitoring and evaluating our work, we should avoid unnecessary risks to our partners and participants and disruptions to ongoing programs.   
  • When we collect and analyze data, we account for the complex and dynamic political environments in which we work.  Our analysis of program effectiveness takes into account the factors that affect our ability to achieve results, and how the broader context of political, social and economic change in a country influences the significance of those results.     

What Our Work Does 

With experience in more than 100 countries since 1983, we leverage our unique perspective and expertise on how democratic change happens to conduct effective and relevant monitoring and evaluation.  As a leader in this field, our monitoring and evaluation efforts strengthen democracy assistance and ensure resources support programs that achieve results. 

Our areas of expertise include:  

  • Analysis of complex systems to design and monitor programs;  
  • Capacity building for in-country partners to carry out monitoring and evaluation projects; and  
  • Employing cutting-edge methodologies to address the challenges of capturing the results of democracy and governance work. 

Understanding and Analyzing Complex Systems 
With more than 30 years of work supporting democratic transitions in countries throughout the world, we recognize that each country’s path to democratic development is unique.  We have developed approaches for designing and evaluating programs that allow us to navigate the complex political, social and economic systems that influence a country’s transition to democracy.  As a result, our programs and our results better reflect the complexities of supporting meaningful and sustainable democratic change. 

Strengthen the Capacity of In-Country Partners Builds Sustainable Systems  
We believe that effective monitoring and evaluation, especially of democracy assistance, requires all stakeholders to contribute to the process.   

To accomplish this, we have developed comprehensive training programs for our in-country partners and staff to ensure they have the skills needed to contribute to monitoring and evaluation work.  In addition, we produce online training materials, and conduct regular field research and consultations.  We also provide mentoring and support to in-country partners in designing and implementing their own internal evaluations. 

Working with our office of monitoring and evaluation, in-country partners and program staff, we develop:  

  • Individual monitoring and evaluation plans that speak to the unique needs of each country where we work;  
  • Program approaches that clearly articulate the link between activities and expected results; and 
  • Data collection tools and analysis methods, as well as plans to compile data and results into meaningful reporting.    

Using Cutting-Edge Methodologies to Strengthen Programming 
We are committed to finding methods for evaluating democracy programs that are rigorous, objective and relevant.  For this reason, we continuously explore new and promising methods and approaches from the academic and evaluation research communities.  Once piloted, approaches are adapted for wider use in our programs around the globe.  Through this process, we are able to address many of the barriers frequently associated with evaluation of democracy assistance, including how to: 

  • Apply quantitative, experimental research methods to democracy assistance programs; 
  • Encourage wider acceptance and use of evaluation findings through participatory methods; and  
  • Use methods that hold ourselves accountable for achieving results while still promoting flexible, creative programs that respond to emerging challenges and opportunities. 

Our Recognized Experts  

Our monitoring and evaluation work is led by a team of experts in our office of monitoring and evaluation.  We are committed to sharing our expertise and experience with the broader democracy and governance community, and are one of the founding members of the Democracy and Governance Topical Interest Group within the AEA.   

As recognized experts, our monitoring and evaluation staff speak at conferences and roundtables that focus on evaluation of democracy assistance, and are regular participants and presenters at the annual AEA conference.  We have also been invited by numerous partner organizations to provide individual consultations on building out their own monitoring and evaluation systems.  Our experts have taught graduate courses at George Washington University and Georgetown University on monitoring and evaluation of foreign assistance focusing on democracy assistance.   

We maintain memberships in numerous evaluation networks and working groups focused on evaluation of democracy assistance, including the AEA and Washington Evaluators.  We are also a participating member of the Experiments in Governance and Politics network, which focuses on assessing approaches to randomized control style evaluations of democracy and governance interventions. 

The generous support of individuals and corporations enable IRI staff and volunteers to carry out its mission around the world. With your help, IRI will continue its mission of hope for decades to come.

IRI is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Contributions are tax deductible

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