Project activities that take place after the project has been established and funded are technically in the implementation phase. In this section the focus is on gathering of information, generating data and processing it – activities that constitute community based monitoring.
As was stressed repeatedly, community based monitoring programs are very diverse and it would be difficult to come up with a useful generic list of recommendations. What is reviewed here are the issues, which were raised by the interviewed project leaders. Almost every project has experienced difficulties of various degrees in these particular areas: providing adequate training and building capacity, ensuring efficient on-going communication, retaining staff, project oversight and quality control.
Provide Adequate Training
Any community based monitoring activities that call for community members’ participation should plan on sufficient time and adequate funding for training. While it is sometimes easier to bring all participants to a centrally located city, one-on-one training in the community may be more efficient. In indigenous cultures, learning is achieved through observing and practicing, not taking notes in a classroom. Project leaders or senior staff should be able to visit communities over the course of the project for continuous training and trouble shooting. Training should not be seen as a one-time workshop. Manuals are helpful but they cannot be a substitute for personal training.
Find Reliable Local Project Staff
Finding the right person to do the job in the community is crucial. When the community leadership is interested and supportive of the activities, they will recommend local community members who will be appropriate for the project. Adequate compensation could also help retain the most capable people. Scheduling project work with consideration for harvesting activities could help avoid problems with absenteeism.
Ensure Work Oversight and Quality Control
Regardless of the amount of training, there will be difficulties in execution, following rules and procedures. Maintaining flexibility in how activities are organized and expedient feedback are needed to successfully deal with these issues. The incoming data need to be continually monitored to ensure that the selected methods and their execution are providing the intended information. Whenever possible, adjustments should be made. However, in case of population survey, changes may need to be deferred until the next cycle. If the survey instrument is altered in the middle of a survey there will be problems with data analysis.
Engage in On-Going Communication
In most Community based monitoring projects, researchers do not reside in the communities where activities are taking place. All possible technology options should be explored to keep in touch weekly. External project communication is as necessary as internal communication. Whenever possible, media, conference, local meetings and events should be used to inform the public about the project.