Design, Monitoring and Evaluation for Peacebuilding

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Speaking the Language of the Private Sector: How to present M&E for Conflict Transformation in partnerships with the Private Sector

Author, Copyright Holder: 
Patricia Loreskar, Search for Common Ground

Guest blogger Patricia Loreskar is a Program Manager with Search for Common Ground based in Tanzania, where she specializes in partnerships with private sector industries.  In this piece she walks us through how INGOs can apply lessons from the USIP course on ‘Demystifying M&E for Practitioners’ to partnerships with Private Sector donors.

For almost all traditional donors, M&E is a must. But when working with private sector companies, programs often need to convince private sector donors to support an M&E budget. Buy in and support then relies on framing M&E results in a way and with language that resonates with the private sector. This blog will explore HOW to demonstrate the value of M&E to private sectors partners and explain WHY private sector partners need to be convinced. 

The lessons shared here are based on my - the author - experience working with private sector extractive industry, and the recent USIP course on ‘Demystifying M&E for Practitioners’.

How is M&E in Extractive Industry Different from Traditional M&E? 

The keys to successful communication with private sector donors are:

  1. Illustrating the effectiveness of the program and highlighting what works.
  2. Showing how learning from results feeds into the company’s overall objective
Extractive industry companies can play a key role in conflict prevention, conflict transformation and post-conflict reconstruction; they influence government and other stakeholders through their social, economic, and environmental impact on local communities. Conflicts around extractive industries tend to be highly complex and fragmented, and for me, the donor is one of the actors in the conflict.
Private sector is not a traditional donor. An NGO might talk about an extractive company’s impact on community in terms of development and peace, and use words and phrases like “baseline surveys”, “no-cost extension”, and monitoring and evaluation “indicators” while a company sees their role in conflict transformation in terms of sustainability and company legacy, and use language like “pitching ideas”, “Key Performance Indicators” (KPIs), “non-conformity reports” (NCR) and “service provision.” These differences in language demonstrate a larger point, that while NGOs and Private Sector may overlap on some common goals, their strategies and stakeholders can be very different.

How can I Make M&E Relevant to the Extractive Industry Context? 
For M&E to not be a ‘check-box’ exercise in a partnership with an extractive industry, the results of monitoring and evaluation must be useful, both to the NGO and to the extractive company. After completing the USIP course, I wanted to apply the lessons I’d learned to a program supporting peace and security. And as I looked into opportunities for application I wondered, why isn't M&E already a requirement from all private sector donors?  
Private sector companies pay for services and goods. An NGO program can be perceived as a form of service provided. Normally, service providers are contracted based on who is the most competent to render services, at a competitive price. To then say that you as a service provider would like the equivalent of 10% of the total budget to show that you indeed did do the work you said you would, and how well you did it – well, to the client that might seem unmotivated. For example, a transport company in the extractive industry can’t ask for an additional 10% of their contract budget to show how many times they in fact did drive the route they were asked to, or how well they transported the cargo. They are simply asked to transport cargo, and the arrival time, amount and condition of the cargo is checked at delivery against the purchase order. Failure to deliver leaves the service company contractually liable. So from the perspective of a private sector company, it is expected that a service provider will deliver what they have committed to.
Private sector companies also pay significant amounts for Research and Development (R&D), which demonstrates an existing commitment to learning to improve efficiency and productivity. A multi-industry review from 2013 found that Industrials invested approximately 3% of revenue in R&D, that's tens of billions of dollars - investments far greater than what M&E budgets request, yet toward similar goals of adaptive learning. Recognizing this common goal of learning how to improve programs, and framing M&E results in this context may be an in-road to support.
With these insights into the private sector in mind, how does one argue the case that M&E is good for a private sector extractive company at each stage of Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation?

Key takeaway! Include the company in the design phase to manage expectations and gain support.
When you design a program, your donor should be part of mapping out what the purpose of the program is. We are not delivering cargo; we are looking for a positive change to the peace and security in the company’s work environment. We create a theory of change together, which serves as a basis for all activities. The evaluation is different from that of a transport company: we are not as interested in how many activities we performed at high quality, but the effect they had on peace and security. After all, the program is not trying to achieve its goals for a third party – it is trying to achieve peace and security for the company. If the company can help define the indicators to measure over time, the expectations on the M&E are clear: ensuring accountability, enabling adaptive learning, and highlighting the NGOs role in conflict transformation and the successes the program has had. Identifying commons goals and experiences can be helped by asking four key questions:
  1. What problem is the program solving?
  2. How is the program going to solve this problem?
  3. How will you know if the program has succeeded?
  4. Once this has been established, what will be done with this information?

Keep in mind that extractive industry companies report to a board of directors. The indicators must make sense to the board members, even though they aren’t experts on development programs.


Key Takeaway! NGOs must create a hybrid vocabulary to communicate the pursuit of common goals

Monitoring of the program ensures that the activities are efficient. Social relationships are dynamic and ever changing. You are not only committed to drive your cargo from A to B – you are simultaneously trying to ensure that this is the best way to reach B. ‘Feedback loops’ help the program improve and demonstrate to the donor that you are as efficient as possible. It gives community members, government and other stakeholders an opportunity to become more involved in how peace and security can be achieved. The credibility and buy-in to the program increases

Monitoring exercises also track changes to the conflict environment, and help programs adapt accordingly. This is of interest to the extractive industry donor, as they are a party in the conflict. Extractive industry is typically a very high-impact social and political actor, monitoring can ensure that the program and company adhere to "do no harm"; monitoring creates ongoing opportunities to learn and realign in ways that benefit both communities and companies. 

Major extractive companies may find it difficult to justify a budget for M&E to their board of directors. But M&E can be cost-effective and done with minimal interruption to the program activities if the program staff perform the M&E and integrate tracking and lessons learned from results into other activities.


Key Takeaway! Results have to be easy to understand: form is as important as content.

Good evaluation shows the results of the work, in a way that clarifies what works. Media pieces can showcase good results and strategies to support peace and stability, which in turn can be used to strengthen a companys Corporate Social Responsibility profile. If the evaluation of the work can demonstrate that program activities resulted in positive effect, the company can also more easily justify the program costs to the board of directors.

The extractive industry is expert on unearthing energy and minerals, not conflict transformation. The extractive industry needs our evaluation results to be as clear and intuitively understood as possible.

Interpreting Results

Companies are built of asymmetrically connected departments, with titles like sustainability, community relations, security, communication and legal affairs. Triangulation of results means separate partners, and diverse elements within different partners, can see and show results in different ways. For example, an improved relationship between a mining company and the local community might be seen by less law suits in the legal department, higher transport delivery accuracy as there are less road blocks, or community members report feeling more trust in the relationship to the company.


Partnerships between Peacebuilders and Extractive Industry can have powerful and positive results for communities. But it is up to NGOs to demonstrate the value of M&E to private sector partners, and to use those lessons to transform conflict.

Please share your own experiences or questions around partnerships with private sector in the comments section below! 


Patricia Loreskar is a Program Manager with Search for Common Ground based in Tanzania, where she specializes in partnerships with private sector industries.  She completed her studies at the Sorbonne and the University of Halmstad. 


Further Resources and Recommended Reading: 

Report: Monitoring and Evaluating Conflict Sensitivity: Methodological Challenges and Practical Solutions

Webinar: Conflict Scans as Monitoring Tools for Reflective Practice

Blog: Negotiations Around Mining in Madagascar