Monitoring anti-poverty programmes: the cornerstone of S&T S&T is involved in the design and implementation of monitoring systems for three key government anti-poverty programmes, below the challenges of social monitoring are explored.
S&T is involved in a wide range of activities, but designing efficient and
effective monitoring systems has emerged as our key activity for the next
couple of years. In the eight months that S&T has been in existence, we have
won contracts for monitoring the following anti-poverty programmes:
- National monitoring analysis for the Community Based Public Works Programme
- National monitoring analysis for the Consolidated Municipal Infrastructure
- Designing and implementing the monitoring system for the Department of
Welfare's 'War on Poverty' which is managed by the Independent Development
What is monitoring?
Monitoring plays an integral part in performance evaluation, establishing
in an ongoing way how projects are being implemented by the institution or
agency concerned. Although methods are similar, monitoring and evaluation
have very different functions.
Monitoring allows managers to determine project costs, the value projects
have added to recipients and participants, and the efficiency of the project.
Through a data gathering system, an essential component of monitoring, participants
have a tool with which to document the progress made towards achieving self-set
goals. When data analysis is workshopped with project managers and workers,
it allows for participative decision-making.
This is important, because some decisions are hard to take. For example,
following the 1997 evaluation of the CBPWP, the Department of Public Works
set quota ranges for the employment of women and youth. The monitoring system
will measure the extent to which these targets are being met. If they are
not, different recruitment methods may be needed. This is preferable to a
summative evaluation finding that too few women and youths had been employed,
once it is too late to do anything about it.
With a monitoring system providing on-going information, project workers
can be involved in discussion and decision-making, as the system shows them
what they and others like them are doing. The need to change direction comes
from their own assessment of whether their targets are being met.
In any large-scale programme, a key indicator for efficiency is the size
of the administrative overhead. Internationally, a figure of around 10% is
regarded as acceptable.
Achieving a balance between delivery and administrative costs is not a simple
matter. S&T has to balance effectiveness and cost when, for example, we are
asked to monitor not just employment and expenditure figures, but, as with
the 'War on Poverty", to monitor the impact of programmes. This requires
multiple methods, with the system having to absorb and synthesise qualitative
as well as quantitative data.
Anti-poverty programmes must be efficient in directing the majority of resources
directly to the targeted beneficiaries. But to do so the monitoring system
must be sufficient to measure whether intended beneficiaries are actual beneficiaries,
and inform management decisions.
Very few South African agencies have succeeded in designing monitoring systems
that are affordable, accurate, and useful to both workers and managers. S&T
is looking forward to pioneering cost-effective and replicable development