Monday 11.30-12.30 (Passmore Edwards Room)

Building capacity or extracting information? Good practices in building technology capacity for MERL: Marta Jagustztyn, Independent; Zak Kaufman, Vera Solutions; Karen Kennedy, Trocaire
When done right, the introduction of technology to partners has the ability to significantly enhance their MERL capacity, but when done wrong, it can be disempowering, burdensome or extractive. What lessons have we collectively learned in how to help partners leverage technology for data-driven, evidence-based decision making? This interactive session will feature group work focused on identifying best practices and pitfalls at four stages of capacity building efforts: (1) Understanding context, (2) Designing and Planning a Solution, (3) Implementation, and (4) Rollout and Support. The outputs of this session will be shared with the broader MERL Tech community in an effort to drive alignment around good practices and pitfalls. (Passmore Edwards Room)

Session details:

The goal of this highly participatory session is to learn from each other, and produce a list of good practices and pitfalls to avoid when supporting partners’ capacity development for technology in M&E.

The session will commence with the sharing of a proposed framework to map the range of activities and partnerships that comprise capacity development for technology in MERL. We will propose that this diverse space includes different types of actors involved, capacities developed, capacity development methods, as well as different phases of the process. Different aspects of the framework will guide us in sharing experiences and good practices.

Some of the topics we find important and propose for discussion are:

  • Working with partners when their budgets for M&E are low – Assessing partners’ readiness for technology in MERL
  • Power issues between supporting organizations and local partners
  • Supporting partners to develop the necessary processes and relevant skills to meaningfully use with MERL technology
  • The issues to addresses to ensure that MERL technology supports a ‘do no harm’ agenda;

The different dimensions of ‘capacity’ and relevant strategies for addressing each of these inputs and discussions will help us all to refine to proposed framework, so that everyone leaves the workshop with a tool to apply within their own work.

Most of all, we are looking forward to the opportunity to engage with and learn from each other about the good practices you use, and what issues and questions you are still grappling with when working with partners on technology in M&E.

Session Leads:

Karen Kennedy is the Head of Strategy and Impact at Trócaire, an INGO working with local Partner Organisations in over 20 countries. She is responsible for leading a team which supports all aspects of Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning across the organisation, and drives improvements in organisational strategy development and management. Karen has over ten years’ experience in International Development and Humanitarian response, working for agencies such as Médecins Sans Frontieres and International Rescue Committee. She holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering.

Marta Jagusztyn is an independent consultant with over fifteen years’ experience working with organizations focusing on public health, advocacy and civil society strengthening. Among others, she has worked and consulted for ActionAid, Pact Inc, Research Triangle International, Finnish Red Cross and UNICEF. One of the topics Marta is passionate about is helping local and international NGOs build solid MERL systems that empower them to learn and make evidence based decisions. Marta spent 12 years in Asia and also has experience working in Eastern Europe and Africa. She holds an MSc in Public Policy and Management from SOAS, University of London and an MA in International Relations from Warsaw University.

Zak Kaufman is Co-Founder and CEO of Vera Solutions, a social enterprise helping nonprofits use cloud and mobile technology to better track impact and streamline operations. Since 2010, Vera has worked with 190 organisations in more than 45 countries. Zak has worked at the intersection of the social sector and technology for 10+ years, overseeing MERL for Grassroot Soccer’s HIV programmes in Southern Africa, leading three RCTs in South Africa and Zimbabwe, and architecting online M&E and grant management systems for leading funders and implementers, including the Skoll Foundation, Gavi Alliance, Aga Khan Foundation, Pact Inc, and Elton John AIDS Foundation. He holds a PhD and MSc in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Dartmouth College. Zak has been recognized as a Marshall Scholar, Harry S. Truman Scholar, Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneur, Global Good Fund Fellow, and Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation Fellow.


Building Capacity or Extracting Information – MJagustztyn Zkaufman KKennedy