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Our Monitoring and Evaluation Ambitions

August 12, 2014

At the Freedom Fund, we have important ambitions for what our monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system can offer.  The hotspot model – of bringing enough resources, intensity of intervention, length of commitment, selection of partners and accelerated learning together – will often mean we have groundbreaking, useful and sometimes complex results to share.

So far, M&E in the anti-slavery field has been rather modest.  There have been very few high quality evaluations, for example.  It’s understandable.  Having worked in this field for a while, I can say that in the past with such meager and scattered resources, it has been hard to set aside much money from direct liberation activities in order to measure whether it’s working.  Just a few oorganisationshave begun actually allocating long-term specialist staff and hard won grants to systematically strengthen their anti-slavery monitoring and evaluation.

It is also one of the most challenging fields of social action in which to do monitoring and evaluation.  For example, if it’s effective work, then it tends to be different in each context.  What good work looks like with young Ethiopian women returning from domestic slavery in Saudi Arabia is not the same as work in the red-light areas of Bihar or with stone-breakers coming out of bonded labour in Uttar Pradesh.  It’s not easy to make a system that is useful in all these extremely different contexts.


Stone Quarry, northern India

Clearly we need to address these challenges and invest in M&E, in order to build sustained support and to learn not just WHAT works but HOW and WHY.  So what can we hope for in our monitoring and evaluation?

  • Our approach should stimulate additional fresh thinking by each partner organization.  It should support them to ask: “What will bring slavery to an end in this place?”, “How will we know when we’re making progress?”, “Who do we want to share knowledge with, and how?”
  • We can make sure that our M&E gives us data about the big picture of systemic and behavioral change as well as simply counting up the services provided.  As the coordinator of one local partner often says (who rescues hundreds of people out of slavery each year) “Rescuing slaves is not ending slavery.”  So as well as counting activities such as rescues, how can we measure changes in the factors that propel people into slavery?  Thanks to the work of many organizations over the last decade, we have ideas about how to do this. Our plans are described here.
  • We can keep the monitoring and evaluation system manageable, proportionate and efficient, so that we’re not trying to count and disaggregate so many items that frontline partner staff get distracted from really being engaged with people coming out of slavery.

The Freedom Fund can make a significant contribution to the field through our M&E system and we welcome feedback.

Written by
Ginny Baumann
Senior Program Manager