Graffiti is an art that is used to communicate for change, likewise monitoring and evaluation (M&E) is a tool for the same. In the past five years, we have worked with twelve government agencies on establishing a monitoring and evaluation department or strengthening their monitoring and evaluation systems where one exists. From the initial phase of engaging these agencies, one of the most recurring questions has been what skills must our M&E Specialist possess. In this resource, we are highlighting the skill profile of an M&E Specialist and comparing it to that of a Graffiti Artist. As a caveat, it is difficult to see an M&E specialist with all the skills mentioned here, and also that the list is not exhaustive. You can use this as a shopping list, and pick some of the skill sets the resources of your organization can accommodate.

A graffiti artist and an M&E specialist both curate messages that can cause change.

According to Jody Kusek and Marelize Gorgens in their Making Monitoring and Evaluation Systems Work, the skill profile for an M&E Specialist includes four critical domains: Institutional Analysis, System Design and Applications, Methodological Tools, and Information/Knowledge Utilization.  Briefly consider each:

Institutional Analysis:

Some graffiti artists use a sketchbook to ascertain color patterns and messages, as an M&E specialist you need to understand the political, social, and environmental context of the program.

Ability to assess the relevant political situation as to the demand for/ interest in building an M&E system

Ability to understand the role of M&E in a larger context.

Ability to conduct needs assessments of an organization’s requirements for an M&E system

Ability to conduct institutional capacity assessments within targeted institutions, on their strengths relevant to building an M&E system

Ability to identify individual champions in organizations, and successfully work with them to build an understanding of, and support for, an M&E initiative

Some graffiti artists use a sketchbook to ascertain color patterns and messages, as an M&E specialist you need to understand the political, social, and environmental context of the program.

System Design and Applications:

Spray cans and their caps are the live wire for graffiti artists, you can’t do without it, and you must choose the best. So also is the ability to design  M&E systems that fit into policies and programmes.

Ability to conceptualize and contribute to the design of an M&E system for a public sector organization/ministry/bureau

Ability to see applications of an M&E system for various levels and components of government

Ability to see applications of an M&E system for various public sector activities (projects, programs, and policies)

Ability to see the linkage of an M&E system to other core functions such as budget, accountability, and oversight

Ability to design at least a minimal statistical collection strategy on relevant M&E variables/indicators

Spray cans and their caps are the live wire for graffiti artists, you can’t do without it, and you must choose the best. So also is the ability to design M&E systems that fit into policies, and programmes.

Methodological Tools:

The art of graffiti is associated with walls, while M&E is associated with data. As an M&E Specialist, you should possess:

Ability to understand the logic and applications of data collected through an M&E system

Ability to assess the quality of data and statistical information collected in an M&E system, i.e., have some understanding of reliability and validity

Ability to specify the appropriate data collection tools for various variables/indicators used in the M&E system

Ability to conduct appropriate analysis from relevant data

The art of graffiti is associated with walls, while M&E is associated with data.

Information/Knowledge Utilization:

Both worlds communicate for change, as such a graffiti artist and an M&E specialist both curate messages that can cause change. An M&E specialist must have:

Ability to understand the applications of M&E data to organizational information needs

Ability to target appropriate information to appropriate officials

Ability to understand how to accumulate, over time, longitudinal or trend information on policy areas of concern

With the continuous introduction of new M&E Tools, the skills needed by an M&E Specialist are becoming exhaustive by the day. Nevertheless, we hope your organization will be able to find the skillset that suits your policies, program, and projects.

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