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August 2001

Finalising the Medium Term Strategic Framework for the Presidency

S&T was recently involved in finalising the Medium Term Strategic Framework - a planning and performance measurement tool for government - for the Presidency, supported by GTZ. David Everatt describes the project.

Introduction

The recent bosberaad between government and the media will hopefully provide more rounded future coverage of what is happening within government – not just headlines about roll-overs and the like. This is important not least because the challenge to deliver – the defining characteristic of the Mbeki era – has forced government to grapple with the transformation of the public service, and the relationship between policy, planning and delivery. Transformation of the public service is a key challenge. Changing the composition of the public service has received much public attention, but the greater challenge is transforming the machinery of government into an efficient delivery agent.

Prioritising policy

The introduction of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) was important in allowing departments to plan their activities over a three-year period. However, the MTEF cycle has become an increasingly technocratic exercise, and there is a need to ensure that government as a whole in continuously reflecting on and working towards the achievement of policy goals that reflect the electoral mandate. To this end, the Presidency is finalising the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF). S&T Senior Partner David Everatt was approached by the Presidency to offer assistance to the Chief Directorate: Governance and Administration with the MTSF.The MTSF will be released later this year, and it would be inappropriate to share details of the Framework at this point. Briefly, the Framework seeks to align the planning and expenditure planning cycles of government as a whole, to ensure that the policy goals set by Cabinet and drawn from the mandate given by the electorate are the driving force for these cycles.

Performance measurement

But the Framework is not merely a planning tool. Rather, it is a performance measurement tool, for government as a whole as well as for individual spending agencies. The Framework will introduce a rolling cycle of planning and performance measurement, in order that government is able to pay close attention to delivery targets, identify problems, incorporate unforeseen events or concerns, and manage itself.

Accountability

But performance measurement of this type – common in government across the world – is not merely an internal monitoring exercise. Accountability is fundamental to monitoring, and the Framework will be linked to a robust communication strategy. The goals of the Framework are broad, ambitious and realistic: to ensure that policy drives expenditure planning and delivery; to ensure that the performance of individual agencies is monitored and internal accountability is structured; and then to take accountability beyond government to the public. For this to work, levels of monitoring and evaluation within departments and across government as a whole will have to improve considerably. Performance-related data will have to be accurate and timeous, and reporting against targets will become the norm. Once the Framework is finalised and becomes operational, it will be an important facet of the on-going challenge to transform government. It will also enhance the capacity of citizens and the media to interrogate the way in which electoral mandates are transformed into policy goals; and the extent to which government achieves those goals.

 

Discrimination

Every day people living with HIV or AIDS face one problem after another because of discrimination. People struggle to get access to proper medical treatment, school for children, shelter, work and food. It is difficult to buy a house because it is impossible to get insurance. The children and families of those with HIV or AIDS face harsh words from friends or colleagues. The current stigma attached to HIV/AIDS can compound existing levels of discrimination on the basis of race, class, sex and so on.

The Department of Health has recognised that fear of discrimination is a significant obstacle to persons coming forward for counselling, testing, support and treatment. Against this backdrop, the Department is currently involved in a series of programmes aimed at creating an environment that protects and promotes the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS. However, the Department needs primary data about the nature and extent of discrimination.

The Department has commissioned S&T to undertake research to establish baseline information on HIV/AIDS discrimination in South Africa. The research study is also required to develop a draft strategy on ways in which the dis-crimination can be countered.

A powerful team

To meet the objectives of the study, S&T has formed a partnership with the AIDS LAW Project of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies. This brings together an organisation conversant in the issues and problems surrounding HIV and AIDS and discrimination, with our strong track record in rigorous socio-economic and development research.

Our methodology is based on a bottom-up approach. While we recognise the institutional dimension of discrimination, our belief is that this form of discrimination is being tackled through various legislative initiatives. Our focus is more on the social and communal aspects of discrimination found in every day life.

The first part of the research will be sifting through the wealth of material that the AIDS Law Project has accumulated on the issue from years of helping people with HIV/AIDS to deal with the numerous problems associated with discrimination. These issues will be further explored and expanded through a series of focus groups. A survey in two different areas of the country will then be undertaken to ‘arbitrate’ the findings of the qualitative phase. Finally, a draft strategy will be workshopped with key stakeholders before being put to the Department.

 

S&T finalises the Kenyan "State of the Nation" Survey

Over 8 000 adult Kenyans, randomly drawn from all provinces and Districts in the country, were interviewed on a range of subjects ranging from socio-political to economic to development issues.

The study unearthed significant differences in terms of access to information and resources across the provinces and across the gender divide. The need for civic education initiatives to target different groups with different messages (and using different strategies) was emphasised again and again by the findings.

The data, with its GIS capabilities, will allow civil society organisations to assess different needs in different areas and tailor their initiatives accordingly. The baseline data will also provide a measure against which the impact of the initiatives will subsequently be measured.

The full report as well as the GIS representation of the data should be publicly available soon for those with an interest in Kenyan society.

We would like, however, to highlight the findings of the survey on the issue of HIV/AIDS to compare with the situation in South Africa. Readers may recall our article on HIV/AIDS in which we showed the proportion of residents in certain rural areas in South Africa that were aware of people infected by the virus or who had died from the virus.

As the following graphs indicates, the impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa is staggering and needs to be constructively dealt with if development initiatives - of any nature - are to be meaningful and sustainable.

Levels of knowledge around the virus and its transmission indicate that awareness campaigns remain an area in which work still needs to be done. However, raising knowledge should not be the only focus of interventions in the HIV/AIDS arena.

In the context of sustainable development - where community ownership and maintenance of projects and assets is key - the impact of HIV/AIDS on communities needs to inform the facilitation and implementation of these projects. Projects need to take cognisance of the fact that the communities tasked with maintenance are likely to be devastated by the virus and plan accordingly.

 

S&T and insideout assess the impact of JUPMET training on the Public Sector

S&T, in conjunction with insideout (a dynamic, all-women evaluation team), are completing a strategic assessment of the impact of the programmes offered by the six universities that make up the Joint Universities Public Management Education Trust (JUPMET) consortium. The specific aim of JUPMET is to empower management in the public sector.

The challenge faced by S&T and insideout has been to examine both the training received by public sector officials in either 1998 or 1999 and the impact this training has had on the public sector organisations where these people were employed. Thus the question we have been attempting to answer is whether the changes in both the invidual’s behaviour and the organisation’s well-being can be attributed to JUPMET.

Data collection

In order to answer this question the study has been undertaken in two-parts. In the first part telephonic interviews were conducted with a total of 392 trainees who participated in short courses or degree programmes in either 1998 or 1999.  Trainee participants were selected from all six of the universities.  Perceptions regarding the impact on the organisation were enhanced through the inclusion of 103 supervisors. In the second part, 84 in-depth interviews were conducted with trainees, supervisors, stakeholders and beneficiaries to assess in greater detail their perceptions of the efficiency and effectiveness of JUPMET.One of the most difficult aspects of the data collection has been the tracing of individuals who went on the courses. Readers will be familiar with the fact that there is a high turnover of staff in the public sector, we all probably know someone who has been promoted, moved to another section, moved to another department or even left the public sector altogether. What took us by surprise was how many people who had been on the JUPMET courses had moved on since 1998/1999. Of the roughly 2 500 names provided to us by the client, approximately a third (31%) were no longer at the work address the trainee had provided when she/he took the course.

Analysis

To assist us with our analysis, a review of literature and previous studies of training in the public sector was undertaken.  Five indicators were identified on which all of the research instruments were based - training effectiveness (e.g. relevance of training); self-efficacy (e.g. personal goal setting); organisational culture (e.g. organisational rewards and incentives); personal effectiveness (e.g. behaviour shifts) and organisational effectiveness (e.g. ability to implement what was learnt). Thus the analysis will explore how training, bearing in mind both the individual’s self-efficacy and the culture of the organisation within which they work, contributes to both the effectiveness of the individual and the organisation.

 

The Integrated Rural Development Strategy - S&T supporting the Office of the Deputy President

S&T has been providing support to Dr Bongani Khumalo, Strategic Advisor to the Deputy President on HIV/AIDS and the Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Strategy. David Everatt describes the work S&T has been doing.

Introduction

In his State of the Nation address earlier this year, President Mbeki announced the launch of the Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Strategy (ISRDS) and the Urban Renewal Strategy (URS). The ISRDS was initially the responsibility of the Office of the Deputy President, before the implementation phase began and the Department of Provincial and Local Government and Independent Development Trust took over. The ISRDS is a mechanism for achieving integrated development at the point of delivery. Through the Integrated Development Plans (IDPs), developed by local government structures, communities identify and prioritise their development needs. Provision is then sourced through existing programmes, such as Working for Water or the Consolidated Municipal Infrastructure Fund. Over time, the engine that drives demand will shift from central to local; and through the IDP, the on-going bug-bear of non-co-ordination between departments and programmes should be resolved.

Support

Strategy & Tactics was requested to provide support to Dr Bongani Khumalo, Strategic Advisor to the Deputy President for the ISRDS. Our role focused on transforming the ISRDS from a lengthy, complex document into a brochure that was accessible and useful. The ISRDS document is an important and highly critical analysis of government’s role in delivering development since 1994. It is important both for the frankness with which it reviews the past, and (more importantly) for the delivery model it recommends for the future. But it also has to be accessible to community-based and non-governmental organisations, and in a format that allows people to quickly understand the ISRDS and their role in it. Working with Dr Khumalo, S&T in partnership with Into the Limelight produced a colourful and accessible version of the ISRDS, as well as campaign logos and names. S&T also provided research and other assistance to Dr Khumalo.

 

S&T design a national monitoring framework for South Africa

S&T recently completed a major national study of monitoring and evaluation practices at national and provincial level, and designed a national monitoring framework for South Africa. David Everatt describes the project and its outputs.

Introduction

In 2000, S&T joined a consortium with MXA, Simeka and Khanya, and successfully tendered for a major project: developing a national monitoring framework. The tender was issued by the Department of Provincial and Local Government. The project was large and ambitious, involving over twenty researchers working across the country. As ever, timelines and budgets were tight, and the team worked flat out to meet the deadline.

The project had two phases:

  1. An assessment of monitoring systems and evaluation strategies in 15 national departments, 6 provinces and 4 parastatals, followed by
  2. Designing a national monitoring framework for South Africa

The research phase

The project was based on questionnaires designed to elicit relevant information from Directors-General, Chief Directors and staff directly involved in monitoring and/or evaluation. The focus was on anti-poverty and development programmes, and related M&E activities. Researchers from the consortium interviewed over 120 government officials. Using a structured questionnaire, we probed issues relating to how poverty was defined and which programmes were ‘anti-poverty programmes’; we identified monitoring systems, and analysed their structure, IT platform, data quality and above all the extent to which monitoring data were both analysed and used as a management tool. We also asked about evaluation strategies and the extent to which evaluation results impacted on management decisions. Each researcher then produced a report analysing M&E in the department they had focused on. We included non-government institutions with a monitoring function as well, including the Human Rights Commission, the Independent Development Trust and othersAll of this data - some quantifiable, much of it qualitative - had to be captured on computer and then analysed. Doreen Atkinson of MXA was responsible for this part of the report. Her findings did not always make for comforting reading. While some departments and programmes had functional monitoring systems, many were the victims of high-tech/low-value systems that were unstable or inoperable. Others had good systems but rarely verified their data. Very few were able to report that monitoring data was regarded and used as a management tool: for too many, monitoring and evaluation were administrative requirements that had little relation to their day-to-day work.

A national monitoring framework

Once Doreen had produced the status quo report, S&T Senior Partner David Everatt had to develop a national monitoring framework. The starting point for a national monitoring framework is the conceptual approach one adopts. One can start by trying to identify the nuts and bolts (existing M&E systems) and tie them together. Alternatively – as for this study – one identifies the purpose of the monitoring framework and works backward from there. Much has been written about performance measurement, locally and internationally. The literature was useful in identifying the key partners in most national monitoring frameworks, although much of the literature focused on developing countries with smaller economies and weaker public services, and in which donor funds are far more significant. While ploughing through the international literature, it was difficult to stop the phrase ‘donor driven’ from circulating in the mind. The brief required us to devise a framework that would link existing monitoring systems and evaluation strategies and route their data to a central point where (with additional data) it could be analysed and reported on at cross-sectoral and other levels. The challenge was to make such an endeavour affordable and enabling – not another ‘good idea’ or ‘international best practice’ that in reality is not implementable or merely adds work to already over-worked public servants.For this project, accountability was regarded as the over-arching goal of a national monitoring framework. The purpose of monitoring – that is, regularly collecting and analysing performance-related data – is to measure performance against targets. When this occurs at government level, it is the citizenry to whom government have to account about how tax monies have been spent.

A central data bank

For a national monitoring framework to function, it needs good input data (the M&E systems of programmes and departments, backed up with additional data specifically tailored to fill knowledge gaps); rigorous analysis; and reporting within government and between government and the citizenry. At the heart of the national framework there must be a well-resourced and properly staffed unit that collates data from existing systems; commissions additional data to fill knowledge gaps; analyses the composite data set; and feeds its findings into a reporting and communication strategy.However, South Africa does not have such a unit. During the fieldwork phase of the project, it became clear that many delivery departments were wary of the unit being located in any single department; and none felt that institutions such as Stats SA or the HSRC were able to play such a role.

The ‘digital nerve centre’

As a result, the report recommended that the unit be merged with the ‘digital nerve centre’ that is meant to form part of the Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Strategy. The ‘digital nerve centre’ is not yet in place, and as such can be shaped and moulded to play an expanded role. Moreover, it will be located in the Presidency, giving it a supra-departmental status and allowing accountability to be structured into performance agreements signed by Ministers and the Deputy President.

The way forward

The national monitoring framework report was presented to the DPLG, which was also working on the Medium Term Strategic Framework (see story on the front page). The two processes are closely related, and the DPLG is now responsible for steering the process through to completion.

 

Marginalisation re-created? Youth in South Africa 1990 – 2000 and beyond

S&T Senior Partner David Everatt was invited to the Centre of African Studies at the University of Edinburgh to present a paper on youth in South Africa. His paper will appear over the next three editions of Phatlalatsa.

Introduction

In the last two years of the millennium, South Africa held its second round of democratic national and local government elections, for which less than half of 18 to 20 year-olds registered as voters. Exit polls suggested that just 9% of voters in the 2000 local elections were aged between 18 and 22. (Levin 2000; HSRC 2001) ‘Youth alienation’ became a common newspaper headline, and young people (briefly) became the focus of politicians and the media. Sadly, few moved beyond the well-worn question: “What’s wrong with our youth?” Their question should have been re-phrased to ask: “What have we done wrong in our attempts to work with youth?”

All major South African youth initiatives of the 1990s – whether emanating from government or civil society – have collapsed. (Everatt 2000) ‘Youth’ is officially defined in South Africa as including all those aged between 14 and 35, and comprise 40% of the total population. Government’s development programmes commonly cite youth as a target group for employment, but none have set employment targets beyond 15%, and even these targets have proved difficult to meet. Youth-specific state structures have failed to mobilise youth or influence government departments to do so. Membership of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) has plummeted from a (claimed) peak of three million in the early 1990s to some 110 000. (Sunday Times 22/4/2001) Warning signs in various sectors were visible long before the 1999 and 2000 elections, for those who cared to look for them.

In this brief paper, we assess some of the causal factors at work. These include a failure to operationalise youth development as a cross-cutting issue for government as a whole, the ‘ghettoising’ of youth matters in weak institutional structures, and the changing socio-political context in South Africa.

However, there is a more prosaic and unoriginal factor underlying most (if not all) of the failed attempts to mobilise young people. ‘Youth’ is consistently treated as a homogenous category. The early 1990s witnessed a focused attempt to unpack the concept, identify key groups and match them with service provision. Since then, no significant attempt has been made to identify different groups, develop appropriate communication mechanisms, or adequately provide for their various needs. This is a conceptual failing, with serious practical spin-offs. 

South Africa has the highest HIV infection rate in the world. ‘Youth’ – especially young women – are most at risk of infection. If HIV/AIDS programmes continue to try to reach and work with ‘the youth’ as an undifferentiated unit, they too will fail. The youth sector – including youth researchers – face their sternest challenge yet. Their nuanced understanding of youth – who they are, what they need, how to communicate with them and how to work with them - must infuse HIV/AIDS programmes and help move them away from their current status as a ‘health’ matter. If not, the costs will be even higher than the ‘impending catastrophe’ already facing South Africa. (loveLife 2000)

From ‘Lost Generation’ to ‘Marginalised Youth’ to ‘the youth’

In early 1990, political organisations were unbanned, political prisoners were released, and South Africa changed forever. Four years later, the first democratic general election took place. The intervening period was dominated by negotiations between former antagonists and the political violence that attended the process.

But much else was happening between 1990 and 1994. As the African National Congress (ANC) prepared for government, space opened for previously disadvantaged sectors to lobby for resources and delivery in post-apartheid South Africa. Research, consultation and policy-formulation took centre stage in many of these sectors, as activists turned their minds to policy matters and the practicalities of delivery.

Young people had played a key role in the anti-apartheid struggle, both as foot soldiers taking on the army and police occupying townships, and in leadership positions in the United Democratic Front (an internal umbrella body for organisations opposing apartheid). The costs of participating in the struggle were high. Education was disrupted through successive school boycotts, thousands of young people were detailed or tortured by police, and countless others were exposed to traumatic events as they participated in or witnessed violent clashes between communities and security forces, or within their communities.

In the 1990-1994 period, a youth-focused Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), the Joint Enrichment Project (JEP), spearheaded a national effort to develop policy proposals for post-apartheid youth development. The approach was not based on any notion that youth had ‘earned’ special treatment because of their sacrifices during struggle (although many in the youth sector held this view). Quite the contrary: the JEP commissioned research and policy development based on a frank appraisal of the damage done to youth of all races under apartheid and what would be needed to deal with its after-effects. A national consultative process focused on the needs of youth – especially ‘marginalised’ youth.

The process consciously sought to get beyond the ‘Lost Generation’ label the media commonly attached to young (black) people by identifying the needs of ‘real’ young people. At its core lay a basic premise: ‘youth’ had become a construct of struggle (the ‘Young Lions’ of the ANC or the ‘Lost Generation’ of its opponents) and needed empirical content with practical application. As a construct, ‘youth’ masked the differentiated experiences and needs of 11 million people aged between 16 and 30, who were at different life-stages, undergoing various sets of transitions, and most of whom had been systematically denied basic human rights such as security, food, shelter, and education. Meeting those needs was central to producing citizens that could meet the challenges of the new South Africa.

The faces behind the mask

Using the notion of ‘marginalisation’, young people of all races between 16 and 30 races were surveyed, and responses assessed against a ries emerged. A quarter of respondents scarcely registered on the scale at all, and were regarded as ‘fine’. Four in ten showed worrying signs on a limited number of indicators. However, 27% scored high on many of the indicators, and were regarded as ‘marginalised’ – that is, they exhibited negative symptoms but were still available to youth development programmes, and urgent interventions were required to draw them out of the margins and equip them to enter mainstream civil life. The remaining 5% - controversially labelled ‘lost’ - scored high across virtually all the indicators, and were considered beyond the reach of conventional youth development programmes other than those operating via the judicial or correctional service system. (Everatt & Orkin 1993)

The next step was to work with youth structures and sectoral specialists to devise policy proposals that matched the different categories emerging from the research process; these were later adopted at a national conference. (Everatt 1995) Many recommendations were sector-specific. But the overarching approach was that the needs of youth were multifaceted and not sector-specific; and that integrated development programmes were needed to meet those needs. This required new skills for working with youth at project level. It also required a new mindset where ‘youth’ was not the purview of a youth-focused Ministry; rather, youth development had to be mainstreamed in all line function departments, so as to be reflected in both policy formulation and the services provided by those programmes. The approach was ambitious, but in the heady days prior to democracy, anything seemed possible.

Failing at the final hurdle

While the youth sector was developing its policy platform, the ANC and its allies were drafting the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), both a blueprint for government and an election manifesto. Successive drafts of the RDP were circulated within the ANC-led alliance, generating heated debate and much horse-trading; lobbying was critical if sectors were to win support for their proposals. But the youth sector faltered at this final, critical stage; in-fighting became more widespread, battles raged over the pros and cons of a Youth Ministry, former allies in other sectors were more concerned with their own battles, and the youth sector failed to win wider support for its demands. (This is analysed in detail in Everatt 2000.)

When the ANC finally released the RDP in 1994, the impact of this missed opportunity was evident. The RDP failed to reflect any notion that ‘youth’ was a construct within which were very different kinds of young people with different needs and included none of the policy proposals developed to help meet those different needs. (ANC 1994) A national youth service programme was the only substantive recommendation offered by the RDP.

Where youth did appear in the RDP, it was alongside women, people with disabilities, those living in rural areas and others cited as target groups for development and anti-poverty programmes. Mainstreaming youth development was completely absent from the RDP. Three years of consultation, research, policy development and lobbying had come to virtually nothing.

Missed opportunities and key lessons

Looking back at this period comprises a review of the rise and fall of integrated youth development. Three points should be made. Firstly, the youth sector supported an endeavour that was informed by a frank appraisal of the damage done to youth under apartheid and an assessment of their potential, in order to develop a strategic approach to youth development as well as sector-specific demands.

At one level, the process sought to displace labels such as ‘Lost Generation’ and ‘Young Lions’; and to challenge those uttering aphorisms such as ‘the youth are our future’ to support policy proposals designed to equip youth for that future. At a deeper level, it sought to understand what ‘youth’ actually meant in South Africa – could young people from widely divergent backgrounds be categorised by age as well as need and potential? Were there commonalities across race, sex and other axes? How could their needs be met? Was there a strategic approach to youth development that would allow the post-apartheid government to maximise impact in a context of using limited resources to meet the needs of all South Africans for the first time?

Secondly, a strategic approach was developed, namely integrated youth development.  This was taken to include the need to understand young people in their own context, acknowledge and respond to their different needs, and work with them on their own terms as partners rather than passive beneficiaries. In developmental terms, youth (defined then as people between 16 and 30) had shared needs with children and adults. But they had additional needs: negative socio-economic factors impacted more severely on younger than older people and became enmeshed with their own transitional life-stages, in turn amplified by coinciding with South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy.

Apartheid had disrupted the life-course of most young South Africans. Young teenagers were parents and heads of households. People in their early 30s had been involved in protest since 1976, and wanted a chance to complete their education. While youth had shown enormous resilience in the face of apartheid, many were deeply scarred, others full of rage, others anomic and hopeless, and most lacked the resources (internal and external) to process their experiences. Youth representatives argued that these factors should be accounted for in the design of programmes, their communication strategies, the assets they provided, and the services they offered at project level; if not, they would inevitably surface later in various, many disruptive, forms.

Finally, churches, trade unions, political parties and others civil society organisations were initially active supporters of the youth sector process. But their involvement waned, precisely as the older male leaders of the ANC began chiding youth to get back to school, to be more disciplined, and the like. As politics began to normalise, youth were expected to take their allotted place as a junior partner and obey the rules. They were effectively ‘re-marginalised’ by precisely the political processes that heralded the end of apartheid. Many drifted out of politics; some joined the Self Defence Units created in response to political violence, while others turned to crime. (Simpson 2001; Straker 1992) Youth NGOs were left to work in their own sector.

The notion of ‘marginalised’ youth – scarred by the past, wanting to participate constructively in the future, but needing assistance to do so – had been sympathetically received by the media and civil society. This too faded. By the time an ANC government was elected to power, youth and crime were as synonymous in the media as youth and violence had been in the 1980s. 

To be continuted in the following two editions of Phatlalatsa:

  • Then – and now
  • The downward spiral of youth in SA 1993 – 2000
  • Politics and gangs
  • Government and youth
  • Youth culture/s
  • Starting the learning curve again
  • Conclusion: towards meeting the challenge
 

Evaluating RAP – 85

S&T evaluated the Rural Anti-poverty Programme (RAP-85) – Jowie Mulaudzi summarises the findings:

Literature on rural development has focused in part on the wisdom of speeding up anti-poverty programme delivery, especially in rural areas. ‘Fast tracking’ sounds comfortingly ‘can-do’ – but may disguise fundamental contradictions between speed and sustainability.

Rural development researchers and practitioners argue that community participation and empowerment are vital components of effective and sustainable development. A cornerstone of this is the involvement of communities in defining, planning and managing the implementation of development programmes. ‘Ownership’ at community level is critical for post construction phase operation and maintenance. The problem is that generating and sustaining community participation is slow, uneven, rarely linear, and does not obey centrally determined (and budget-driven) timetables. 

In November 1997, the Department of Finance announced an allocation of R85m to the National Department of Public Works (NDPW) from the Poverty Relief Fund. A directive from the department stated that the allocated monies should be spent by the 31st March 1998 – a four month window. The two imperatives – participatory development and budgetary timetables – were brought into sharp focus.

The NDPW designed the Rural Anti-Poverty Programme (RAP-85) as the delivery vehicle. RAP-85 was also the first phase of implementing the re-aligned Community Based Public Works Programme (CBPWP). The programme was implemented between 1997 and 1998.

In 2000, the NDPW commissioned S&T to undertake a summative evaluation of RAP-85. The evaluation was to focus on various issues, including the impact of ‘fast-track’ delivery on the and lessons to be learned from the whole exercise.

Methods

S&T developed a research strategy in consultation the NDPW. The research strategy entailed: n A literature review of local and international material.n Case studies of one cluster from the Eastern Cape (Tsolo), KwaZulu-Natal (Shobashobane) and the Northern Province (Ga-Mamabolo). n A survey of workers in the three provinces. n An audit of all RAP-85 projects in all three provinces. The case studies were qualitative in nature, and included a review of available programme documents in the three clusters, in-depth interviews with role players, and site visits to review the assets in the clusters.

Institutional arrangements

Instead of using the provincial departments of public works as delivery agents (true of earlier phases of the CBPWP), delivery was devolved to municipalities through regional/district councils. Provincial Departments of Public Works (PDPW) were responsible for monitoring and evaluation.

Financial systems

At the onset of the programme, problems were experienced with financial systems resulting in delays in the payment of claims.  This hit emerging contractors hard, since they lacked financial reserves from which to pay workers, creating tensions between contractors and workers at site level.

Provincial programme management teams

The national programme management team sub-contracted provincial programme managers to carry out programme management functions at local level. Provincial programme managers together with cluster and technical managers, social consultants as well as local players made up provincial programme management teams. At project level, community steering committees, social facilitators, cluster managers and local stakeholders made up the project team.

Community participation

Community participation in the identification and selection of projects has been a hallmark of the CBPWP. RAP-85 struggled to fast-track community based development – and the inherent tensions were inevitably resolved by the need to spend rather than the requirements of community participation. When asked who decided on projects to be implemented, less than half (43%) of former RAP-85 workers mentioned community leaders, community committees or the community itself. A fifth indicated that local government and/or traditional leaders selected projects. Establishing national and provincial teams to manage the implementation of RAP-85 was a time consuming process, and it was not possible for communities to be adequately involved in identifying assets. As a result, the programme mainly provided assets from the ‘social cohesion’ category – predominantly educational facilities – and only a limited number of directly productive or labour saving assets.  Time constraints forced programme managers to compromise on up-front community participation; this had a ripple effect throughout the rest of the programme.

Selection of workers

The programme aimed to target the poorest of the poor. Even here, however, corners were cut: one in ten project workers were in full time or part-time employment when they took up employment on RAP-85. Wage rates were uneven across the three provinces, but were clearly too high: RAP-85 pulled workers from existing jobs into a public works programme, precisely what such programmes are not meant to do.

Training

Provision of training for workers has been a long-standing goal of the CBPWP, although one it has struggled to realise in practice. The overwhelming majority (93%) of RAP-85 workers received no training at all – not even ‘on-the-job’ training. But the programme did manage to transfer skills – even without offering training – and a number of former workers, who had managed to find casual work after the programme, felt they had learned skills that enhanced their employability.

Design, location and quality of assets

Although communities enjoyed limited involvement in determining the design and location of projects, survey respondents had positive attitudes regarding these issues. Two-thirds (67%) told us the design was appropriate, and over four-fifths (86%) believe the location of the assets was appropriate. Almost three-quarters (71%) of respondents told us the assets delievered to their communities were of good quality.

Community gains from the programme

A fifth (20%) of respondents stated that RAP-85 made no difference to their communities’ income levels; and nine out of ten felt that the employment situation had not changed. While counter-factual, it is fair to wonder whether these responses would have been different, had RAP-85 had the time to fully implement the goals of the re-aligned CBPWP, particularly the focus on economic assets.

Impact on objectives

The lack of time for planning and consultation meant that the goals of the re-aligned CBPWP - to deliver clusters of assets that could kick-start or enhance local economic activity, with a secondary emphasis on improving social cohesion – were not achieved. But the evaluation shows that those goals could not have been achieved within the 4-month window period. Rather, RAP-85 provided assets that communities wanted, and achieved considerable success. ‘Fast tracking’ – coupled with the fear of monies being clawed back by Treasury and resultant media criticism - obliged the programme managers to do what was feasible, rather than what was desirable.

Conclusion

Evaluating RAP-85 is complex. The evaluation was commissioned two years after the programme was completed, leading to methodological and logistical challenges. Moreover, the programme objectives were in direct conflict with the exceptionally tight timeframes attached to the Poverty Relief Fund grant. If RAP-85 is judged against the extent to which it achieved the objectives of the CBPWP, it would be regarded as a failure. If it is judged merely by the criterion of providing functional assets, the picture is more positive. But it can only be judged in context – and that context was determined and dominated by the timeframes. Future Poverty Relief Fund grants reflect a greater understanding of and sensitivity to the complexities of delivering community-based development. To insist on participatory development and provision of sustainable assets in a 4-month window period is to insist on the impossible.

 

International Toolkit - Measuring voluntary work

In September 2000, Jowie Mulaudzi traveled to Washington D.C. to attend a two-day meeting bringing together researchers and voluntary work practitioners from Canada, China, Egypt, India, South Africa, Slovak Republic, United Kingdom and the United States of America. The meeting was organised by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV), and hosted and funded by the Independent Sector.

There main purpose of the meeting was to contribute to the international year of volunteers by developing a survey tool to investigate and measure voluntary work throughout the world.

In terms of existing infrastructure, clear differences between developing and developed countries emerged.  The developed countries already had an established infrastructure and tradition of conducting voluntary sector surveys. These range from measuring the extent and types of voluntary work to attempts at quantifying its impact on the country’s social life and the gross domestic product. In contrast, developing countries still need to engage with the concept of surveying voluntarism.

There was consensus on the need to document voluntary work and measure it’s impact at a macro-economic level.  Notably, certain cultural and religious sanctions in some countries make it impossible for people to divulge information on voluntary work that benefits their communities. For example, Muslim’s believe that such details  should be kept between the individual and his/her creator. Whether the generic toolkit should incorporate such sensitivities was an important question for the meeting. Ultimately the meeting conceded that the toolkit should rather provide general guidelines, and researchers should be given the prerogative on how best to deal with cultural and other specifics.

The meeting also addressed two potential barriers in developing countries: A lack of research infrastructure including unreliable national population data as well as a lack of financial resources.

Whilst the meeting was fruitful from a research point of view, we also needed the perspective of a practitioner from the voluntary sector in South Africa. Someone that would be able to lobby and drive the process with relevant organisations as well as mobilise support from relevant quarters.

 

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