Arqaam is a social enterprise that was founded in 2017 to help improve the impact of humanitarian and development projects through better use of data. As monitoring and evaluation (M&E) consultants, we help Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) see the value behind the numbers.
Arqaam works with its clients at the crossroads of M&E and digital development to make monitoring and logframes more than a simple ‘tick the box’ exercise. We support data needs so project managers are able to spend less time setting up systems and more time analysing and learning from their data. For grassroots organisations with limited resources, we offer pro bono support through our M&E Capacity Support Programme.
Arqaam believes in providing its services in line with the 9 Principles of Digital Development. We use open source solutions and follow open data standards where possible. We reinvest our own resources to support projects like the Logframe Lab – a free, open source monitoring and evaluation tool for NGOs that helps them match project ideas with the most relevant metrics for tracking their success. It’s our passion – and at the core of why we started Arqaam – to find better ways to add value to the development community and its stakeholders.
While doing so, Arqaam wants to stand out for its high level of integrity and strong ethical values. Diversity is very important for us, as you can see in our team. Inclusiveness is not just a word to us – we understand that diverse perspectives are both necessary and beneficial for finding effective solutions through a ‘best fit’ approach. We believe in the importance of flexible hours for our staff, which is why remote work has always been a part of our practice.
When it comes to valuing ‘people over profit’, we don’t just talk the talk. You can read more about our values in our Code of Ethics.
Arqaam has proven expertise in sifting through the noise of humanitarian environments to derive data. In turn, we analyse that data and transform it into information. We utilise our experience in monitoring and evaluation for NGOs to further refine the information into the most valuable commodity: actionable information.
Arqaam accomplishes this by effectively blending field-appropriate technology with expert contextual experience – merging cultural, traditional, and contextual knowledge with an organisation’s understanding of the data. This type of monitoring and evaluation provides a powerful fusion of high-quality, relevant, quantitative, actionable information and contextual knowledge.
Arqaam views every engagement as an opportunity to incorporate a legacy into all work done, and we consciously build capacity where possible – which is one of the reasons we are highly effective. We do this by supporting the localising of work undertaken – whether by creating linkages with educational institutions or by actively identifying those in communities who can most benefit from engagement. In this aspect, Arqaam is acutely aware of those systemic and frequently invisible barriers to economic engagement that keep women, children, the aged, and those with disabilities marginalised.
Field-led. All our designs and processes are user-driven, ensuring that any solution we offer is adjusted to the relevant context.
Organisational Standards. We aim to build standards across the data life cycle, while engaging users in the process.
Ownership. We strive to build ownership at all levels to accomplish sustainable change.
Simplicity. We focus on the simple use of technology and intuitive data practices for our monitoring & evaluation.
Transparency. We take transparency at the core of any work we do, to build trust, to hold ourselves and our clients accountable to the highest standards.
From the log-frame to the fieldwork
As monitoring and evaluation consultants, Arqaam supports humanitarian and development actors in every phase of the project cycle. For new projects, as well as continuations or scale-ups, Arqaam supports the development of:
- Theory of Change (Results chains)
- Logical Frameworks (Results framework, Logframes)
- RACER Indicators (Relevant, Acceptable, Credible, Easy, Robust)
- Monitoring Tools and Plans
- Monitoring Check-ups
- Remote Monitoring
- Community-based Monitoring
- Complaint and Feedback Mechanisms
2. Digital Development
From the fieldwork to the database
Working in the field, we’ve seen common challenges around effective data collection and usage. Legacy tools and processes, coupled with resource limitations, frequently lead to incomplete, poor-quality data, obscuring key takeaways from programme managers and leadership.
Teams are able to collect and organise data from the field much more quickly thanks to the rise of digital data collection tools – which can combine seamlessly within an ecosystem of open-source tools to underscore learning opportunities.
Our approach leverages our partnerships in the open-source community with the power of cloud-based technologies to develop state-of-the-art monitoring and evaluation tools for NGOs.
Once data has been collected, we blend it with simple workflow tools and a centralised database to allow for customised reporting that can integrate with third-party software at low maintenance costs. Utilising insightful data visualisations, we help programme managers easily track progress towards benchmarks.
Tools we work with:
- Data Collection (CommCare, Dharma, Kobotoolbox, ONA, SurveyCTO)
- Data Management (ActivityInfo, DHIS2, ImpactMapper, TolaData)
- Data Analytics (Python, PSPP, R)
- Data Visualisation (PowerBI, ElasticStack, DataStudio, MapBox, Tableau)
- Data Reporting (GRI, HXL, IATI standards)
From the database to the result
Evaluations are a key part of Project Cycle Management, and Arqaam offers the full administration of all relevant evaluations. Arqaam believes in honest evaluations that provide the best benefit to the clients. While it is important to be balanced and to provide insights in the project holistically, one cannot attain an iterative learning agenda and process if one does not address and understand the challenges. This is why Arqaam strongly believes in constructive feedback and the openness of its clients to address any challenges and, thus, to provide better solutions for targeted populations in the long term.
Arqaam uses the OECD DAC Evaluation Criteria where appropriate, including the adjusted criteria (by ALNAP) within the context of the humanitarian community. For accountability and transparency reasons, Arqaam does not offer evaluations for projects where it participated in the monitoring. Monitoring and evaluation should remain separate and free from bias.
From the result to the next project
During the lifetime of any project, the team often realises how small changes could potentially make a significant difference. The new insights gained and gaps identified lead to new project ideas. Arqaam works with clients to follow up on these first findings through rigorous research, for example:
- Feasibility assessments
- SQUEAC and SLEAC Surveys
- Needs assessments
- Behaviour Change Surveys
- Pre/Post testing
- Socio-economic research