Type of practice:
The European Union Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced people in Africa (EUTF for Africa or EUTF) was launched in November 2015. It is composed of three geographical ‘windows’: ‘North Africa’, ‘Horn of Africa’ and ‘Sahel and Lake Chad’. As of December 2021, the EUTF had committed (i.e., allocated funds following decisions by the EUTF Operational Committees) €4.93B (billion).
Altai Consulting was contracted in 2017 to develop a regional Monitoring and Learning System (MLS) that supports evidence-based and adaptive programming in the Horn of Africa. In 2018, Altai Consulting was contracted to implement a similar MLS for the Sahel and Lake Chad window of the EUTF.
The MLS is designed to (i) strengthen monitoring and reporting on the overall progress of the EUTF, and (ii) act as a learning component based on investigations on projects to inform programme strategy.
The MLS aggregates output values at the regional level, measures and visualises progress made by EUTF-funded programmes, cross-analyses project data and knowledge generated to refine strategies. The MLS also provides technical assistance to partners that require it, to support M&E systems of all partners.
On the learning side, the MLS works to (i) understand the rationale behind the data collected and analysed in monitoring reports, and (ii) identify best practices and lessons learned across the EUTF HoA portfolio, largely through case studies, the results of which are publicly shared.
The learning component of the MLS has also conducted cross-country studies like the Lessons Learned from the EUTF, which aimed to support the design of a future strategy on migration, displacement and mobility programming; and the State of Migration Governance studies, which provided the EU with concrete recommendations for future programming in support to governance of movements in 21 countries.
Benefit and Impact
The positioning of the MLS as monitoring and learning partner for two of the three EUTF windows has allowed the teams to conduct various research including:
• In 2021, the MLS published a report on Lessons Learned from the EUTF, which provided an analysis of the migration, mobility and displacement programming in EUTF target countries and highlighted best practices (both by the EUTF and other interventions) and opportunities to inform future programming. The report offered concrete recommendations in all aspects of migration (forced displacement, labour migration, return and reintegration etc…).
• The MLS teams have published case studies on varied topics, that covered projects or groups of projects, supporting cross-country learning. All case studies are published on the EUTF website and can be a resource to all practitioners. Case studies have been conducted on cross-border areas of the Horn of Africa, anti-trafficking operations in the Gulf of Guinea, the CRRF, IGAD’s work on migration, inter-consortia resilience projects and the Emergency Transit Mechanism.
• In 2021, the MLS teams also supported the EU in developing country studies on migration governance in 21 countries across the continent. The Migration Governance studies covered laws and institutions intervening in migration governance, focusing on ten areas (including refugees, labour migration, trafficking in persons, diaspora, climate-induced migration).
The MLS uses data produced by projects’ internal monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems to inform 38 EUTF common output indicators that are shared by the three EUTF windows. The MLS team works with each implementing partner (IP) to develop a reporting system that allows the MLS to collect the most detailed and granular level of data common to all IPs. Given the complexity and diversity of the EUTF portfolio, and the fact that IPs and M&E systems have different resources, limitations and capacities, the MLS tries to offer as much flexibility as possible with regards to the quantity, disaggregation, and format of data collected from IPs.
While the output data aggregation is now possible thanks to the MLS system, outcome and impact level information remains almost impossible to aggregate. However, the MLS is currently designing systems that would help it attempt to measure effects of the EUTF as a whole.
Recommendations(if the practice is to be replicated)
• The support of the donor centrally and at the local level is important to ensure learning opportunities are properly tailored to the needs of practitioners in each country.
• A replication of the MLS system should start at the beginning of the funds’ actions. In the cases of both MLS, the monitoring partner was contracted after a number of activities had already started, making the process of reconciling data and introducing the system more complicated.
The fact that the MLS teams are in contact with all implementing partners regularly and are familiar with the activities of all EUTF-funded projects also puts the MLS in a prime position to conduct large studies across the region, like the Lessons Learned and the Migration Governance studies.
The successes of the MLS in the Horn of Africa led to its replication in the Sahel and Lake Chad.
The impacts of the MLS will be felt in the long term in the sense that research provided by the teams will help design future programming in a more sustainable manner. The practice could be expanded to any large fund of projects, including funds like the EU trust funds, but also to the entire portfolio of a donor.
The COVID-19 pandemic posed challenges to a number of partners in collecting their primary data. However, thanks to the flexibility of the MLS database, this did not pose a problem for the MLS’ data collection in the long term. Since the MLS had been established more than 2 years prior and was well known to the partners, the reduction of field trips during the pandemic did not pose a significant communication problem.