S&T monitoring municipal infrastructure In early 1999, S&T tendered for the management of the Consolidated Municipal Infrastructure Programme (CMIP), alongside Epa, BKS and others. CMIP is one of the largest programmes undertaken by government. The programme aims to provide basic levels of services to low income households while also contributing to other government strategic and intervention policy objectives. We were very excited to win the tender.
The programme targets vulnerable communities and sectors of society like
women, youth and the disabled for job creation. The programme is being re-directed
towards meeting the developmental objectives of local government as expressed
in various policy documents.
The Department indicated that their experience in previous programmes was
not satisfactory, especially with regard to issues of development focus and
monitoring. This sentiment corroborated some of our experiences in setting
up monitoring systems for national Departments involved in similar programmes
to CMIP. Our experience of monitoring systems for anti-poverty programmes
has not been positive, as discussed on page one.
For national Departments to monitor critical indicators is not always an
easy exercise. In addition, it normally takes time to find a common understanding
and purpose for the team involved. Those involved in the system need to own
it, to ensure that they put more effort to make it work. The implementation
and support teams are central to the success or failure of the entire programme.
They need to understand the intended outcome of the system, and its importance.
In CMIP, speed of delivery was not the key criterion for judging success or
failure. Rather, poverty measurements are now used to assess whether the programme
achieved its objectives or not. According to the Chief Directorate in CMIP,
their previous programme experience was different. Implementing agencies were
insufficiently concerned with development objectives during implementation,
but focused on technical proficiency and speed of delivery. There was also
little emphasis on communicating progress to South Africans. Monitoring focused
on the progress of construction rather than on performance and impact regarding
key development indicators.
As such, there were fewer systems in place to assist with the attainment
of development objectives. To use the expression of a senior member of the
Department, "the previous programme was driven by engineers who concerned
themselves only with the laying down of pipes with no development dimension
New challenges for CMIP
The new programme is ambitious. That being the case, the programme must
keep all players in touch and working together. To directly address the legacies
of the past, it must develop people who will facilitate and monitor development.
The S&T monitoring system will be in place to assist the Department in assessing
whether the intended targets are being met or not. Community empowerment and
job creation, the empowerment of women and young people and similar Key Performance
Indicators (KPIs) will need to be monitored at all levels of the programme.
This calls for dedicated individuals to account on a regular basis as to
how and why certain targets were - or were not - not reached. This is always
the most difficult aspect of monitoring: to ensure that those who are involved
in the programme do not perceive the monitoring exercise as a "Big Brother"
situation. A sense of appreciation will have to be cultivated and inculcated
for those involved in the programme to accept the importance of the monitoring
exercise, for this to become part of managing the entire process of poverty
On the other hand, the Department will have to come to terms with the fact
that it cannot monitor everything. The system will have to be manageable and
simple. Some of the desired KPIs will have to be excluded if administrative
costs are to be kept in check.
As the new CMIP swings into operation, it will be equipped with a monitoring
system that should allow all those involved - from workers to government officials
- to know where they are, how they are performing, and what their weak points
are. Decisions should be easier to take, and based on data. S&T regards this
job as one of the most important we shall be involved in for the next couple