In order to develop a usable and relevant MEL framework for energy system development, it is important to see change from the perspective of the facilitator. Facilitators need to focus on the following:
To transform entire energy market systems facilitators need to understand the Spheres of Influence as summarised in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Summary of Spheres of Influence of Market System Facilitation
On-Going Facilitation: The facilitator’s work does not stop with the individuals with whom they shake hands before a workshop. They must continue to support market collaborators directly to mobilise and align their own networks (organisations, cooperatives, groups, etc.) to reach other market actors, around the agenda of inclusion, productivity and efficiency most important to the facilitator, whilst making sure that the agendas of the collaborators and their networks are also satisfied.
The facilitators must then monitor the progress that the collaborators make within their own networks and find ways to help them mobilise or align them to reach ever larger numbers of people and organisations. This can be overseen through using the model outlined in Figure 2, to support the activities of adopt, adapt, expand and respond:
Figure 2: Process of Change from Activities to Goal
Action: Facilitators should use the template in Annex 3 to periodically assess the spheres of influence of their key collaborators, to identify if their collaborators are carrying out the activities of adopt, adapt, expand and respond. This allows the facilitators to assess the depth of influence of their facilitation process. The facilitation team should ideally update this template every 6 months.
Facilitation “Dance”: The frontline of facilitation is the interaction between the facilitators and the collaborators with whom the facilitators work directly to change the selected energy market system. An interphase – or “dance” - takes place where the facilitators implement their activities, the collaborators react, and the facilitators further react or flow with their reactions and initiatives, and so on. This interphase needs to be flexible and sensitive to ensure the key market actors are engaged, proactive and creative.
Facilitation Monitoring: The effective monitoring of the reactions of the collaborators is vital in telling the facilitators if their facilitation is being effective or not. It also provides guidance on the direction the market actors want to go and whether this is likely to satisfy the development agenda of inclusion, productivity and efficiency of the marginalised actors and gender equality.
Facilitation Variables: Using information provided by the collaborators, partners and peers, the facilitators can control the following four variables as required to ensure their facilitation is heading in the right direction:
Due to the indirect nature of facilitation, the activities being implemented by facilitators are not important in themselves. What is important is their impact on building the capacity of the actors, which is what needs to be monitored. When facilitating each part of the roadmap it is important for the facilitators to be actively monitoring them, as follows:
For example, once the key actors have been identified and supported by the facilitator it is important to monitor the following:
During the events convened by the facilitator, it is important to monitor the following:
As a result of the subsidies provided by the facilitator:
Facilitators you should be looking for signals that tell a credible story about the collaborators and their networks moving into a scenario with greater:
Action: These lists are not exhaustive but provide the types of signals the facilitators need to pay attention to, to try and understand if the energy system is moving in the right direction. The facilitators can complete the template in Annex 4, asking relevant questions about the market actors, to identify how the four variables need to be altered for each of the roadmap steps.
Monitoring and evaluation should not only be carried out to understand how the selected energy system is developing over time in response to the facilitation process, but should also be carried out to assess the facilitators themselves, including how they are trained, coached and mentored to do an effective job. Effective facilitation of the roadmap process requires the facilitators to perform a number of tasks requiring a set of skills and attitudes that facilitators should have.
Action: The team manager should work with each facilitator to define the main skills they each require, and ensure they’re effectively trained on each. The template in Annex 5 can be used to identify these facilitation skills and then regularly monitor and evaluate them to ensure each facilitator is able to carry out the process as required, and improves their facilitation skills over time.
Facilitation Roles and Skills: The following diagram outlines four critical roles of facilitation, being creating effective spaces, managing them, channelling the process, and moderating conflicts as they arise.
Another more detailed facilitation model is the Groove Network’s Mentoring Wheel, which identifies 12 required fundamental skills that facilitators are required to perform well, which can be incorporated into the template as required:
The following 7 principles of systemic M&E were developed between 2010 and 2013 by members of the Market Facilitation Initiative (MaFI) to provide guidance to facilitation teams on their organisational plans, performance, learning and adaptation throughout the roadmap process, summarised as follows:
Indirect Impact: when a systemic approach is used, the aim is to improve how an energy system works so it improves the productivity and efficiency of actors, improving the livelihoods of marginalised people, on an on-going basis. Its objectives and impact are therefore, by definition, not achieved through the direct delivery of inputs and services to the poor.
M&E Implication: How the beneficiaries are counted must change. The actors engaged with are “collaborators”; not “beneficiaries”, with the real beneficiaries being indirect. Reasonable efforts to gain insights from direct impact assessment should be used but they should not drive the implementation.
Impact Depth: changes that are effectively facilitated in an energy system vary according to how structural and long-lasting they are. They range from superficial changes, such as variations in incomes and number of jobs, to the deepest ones related to self-awareness of the market actors. Even though all types of change are important, more attention should be paid to deeper changes such as the creation of new relationships, increased access to information, and shifts in behaviour and power dynamics, as these will increase the sustainability and impact of interventions.
M&E Implication: Use indicators to detect changes at “deep” levels; not only jobs and income. Deep changes are related to relationships, flows of information, how the actors turn information into usable knowledge, how they see themselves and other actors, and their capacity to question what they do, amongst others.
Network-Driven Change: both public and private market actors, as well as the forces operating in an energy system, have varying degrees of complexity. Changing these actors or forces is the result of complex negotiations between the facilitators and influential collaborators and their networks. These networks are usually the first-movers or innovators in the system, who are more willing to try to do things in differently to improve the system (i.e. precursor networks).
M&E Implication: Identify and engage the individuals who can mobilise the precursor networks that will drive change. Use indicators that detect changes within these networks, such as their new ideas, practices and policies.
Unpredictability: the behaviour and evolution of complex energy systems is difficult to predict. This often undermines the effectiveness of rigid approaches and tools that are used in market development initiatives. Flexibility, rapid learning and effective collaboration between facilitators, market actors and donors are key requisites to try and overcome this uncertainty.
M&E Implication: Build organisational culture and routines for quick adaptation, and capacity of facilitators to improvise. Conversations within, and amongst, facilitators are essential. Learning should be nurtured more by collective conversations and less by reports, spreadsheets and checklists.
Sensitivity to External Signals: once an NGO or donor declares their intention to intervene in an energy system, public and private actors often change their behaviour and strategies to maximize the potential benefits (e.g. financial, political and reputational). However, this behaviour change is often short-lived and does not contribute to the inclusivity and functionality of the energy system. Facilitators must be careful to use approaches that promote new, long-lasting behaviour change of the market actors, in particular the marginalised and gender equality.
M&E Implication: Be aware of how actors perceive the personal and organisational identity of the facilitator. Use these perceptions strategically, minimising your profile to promote leadership and ownership of the market actors, and maximising it to engage powerful or influential actors who like to be engaged with as “equals”.
Information Deficit: no matter how much a market system is assessed, there will always be information which has important consequences on the performance and evolution of the system that was not know about. Although it is important to collect as much information as possible it is also important to promote true participation of all actors, continuous learning, effective communication and flexibility and collaboration throughout the process.
M&E Implication: Carry out market analysis and planning but don’t overdo it - stop when you feel you have enough data to engage the key actors in the process, and learn the rest through the rest of the process. Work proactively, training the facilitators to have an open mind to detect new signals and allowing the addition or of new indicators as new and important aspects of the system are discovered (for example, the importance of a social norm that was not known during planning phase).
Sustainability as Adaptability: the adoption of a systemic approach requires a shift in understanding of sustainability. This is from the permanence of a set of outcomes to the capacity of a system to create new opportunities, leverage existing ones and minimize negative impacts through time. It is necessary to use an M&E framework that can detect whether a system is building its capacity to adapt to shocks, new consumer trends or policies, technological change, natural disasters, etc.
M&E Implication: What people produce or consume becomes less important that the learning process that makes markets actors more adaptable to market shocks. Whether the project is creating and/or promoting skills, structures, institutions and processes that increase resilience and adaptability must be monitored.
Action: These 7 steps provide guidance not just on the types of indicators the facilitators should use, but a range of behavioural and organisational aspects they need to take on board. These are equally, or even more important, than the indicators used to monitor change and evaluate systemic impacts. The facilitation team can use the template in Annex 6 to monitor the facilitation of the selected energy system against each of these 7 Steps of Systemic M&E. These can provide further details to your log frame and their indicators as required.
According to Robert Chambers, “development is good change”. In the context of the roadmap process, good change is that which promotes and sustains inclusion, productivity and efficiency of an energy system to impact large numbers of marginalised market actors and gender equality.
Experience has shown that change manifests itself at different levels of depth within an energy system but the deeper the level, the harder it gets to detect this change. One practical way in which facilitators can try and detect change at the deepest levels is assessing whether it is reactive or proactive, as follows:
The two types of change are synergic and reinforce each other, as if a market actor is doing well they can afford to invest their time and resources in designing new products and diversifying.
However, these types of change are different in essence and facilitators need to be aware of them to understand the depth of change within the selected energy system, with market actors gradually behaving in more proactive, rather than reactive, ways.