Monitoring and evaluation: the Community Based Public Works ProgrammeElma Scheepers, the Deputy Director for Monitoring and Evaluation in the National Department of Public Works, shares her views on the role and status of M&E in the Community Based Public Works Programme
The Need for an Effective Monitoring and Evaluation System
The 1996 and 1997 evaluations of the Community Based Public Works Programme
by the Community Agency for Social Enquiry and the International Labour
Organisation identified problems with the verification of data. It was therefore
strongly recommended that a more effective monitoring and evaluation (M&E)
system be instituted. Since 1997 the Department of Public Works has successfully
developed an improved Programme Management System and associated M&E
The objective of M&E is to produce high quality information to enable
improved decision-making. M&E consists of two related parts, namely
monitoring and evaluation. According to Ticehurst (1995) monitoring is the
ion and management of data, which relates to a predefined target value
for objectively verifiable indicators. With monitoring the primary concern
is related to the planned objective. The recording of what has been accomplished
is achieved by result-orientated monitoring.
The results enable an organisation to compare what is being achieved with
the outcome envisaged in planning. If progress is checked at intervals and
compared with the plan, the result is a route description. If there is a
significant difference between the results and planned objectives, the organisation
will need to take corrective actions. In this regard, it is important that
the reasons for the deviation are well understood.
Evaluation is the analysis and periodic use of data to assess programme
(and project) viability, performance progress and its impact (Ticehurst
1995). Evaluation implies a judgement and this is achieved by the analysis
of monitored indicators measured against set goals and objectives.
Why is M&E Needed?
M&E are required for the improvement of a product or service and for
accountability to stakeholders. A core system is needed to ensure that the
programme’s norms, standards and policy objectives are met. The advantage
of using an M&E system is that it is a warning system capable of saving
time and money.
Key elements for effective M&E include the use of external moderators
(evaluators) for objective perspectives: their results must be action orientated
so that decision-makers are appropriately informed. The principles of accountability
and transparency are important in intervention performance. The main purpose
of public sector reforms should be to make government delivery more efficient,
transparent and accountable. A programme with an explicit government intervention
such as the Community Based Public Works Programme must adhere to these
principles when assessing the impact of their intervention, in relation
to the goals of the programme.
A critical element of evaluation is that it not only measures results,
but also helps in the understanding of cause and effect relationships. It
plays a crucial role in reforming the public sector in terms of enabling
effective policy formulation, planning and implementation.
M&E in the Community Based Public Works Programme
The primary purpose is to provide a reflective mechanism, which enables
the programme’s decision-makers to critically examine policy, implementation
strategies and progress. It is also important to continually develop a culture
of M&E within the organisation. The commitment of the programme’s management
has realised the integration of an M&E system into the programme. The
attention paid to continually improving the system is further evidence of
The M&E system consists of a Programme Management System (a manual
on how to implement and monitor) with a computerised Integrated Monitoring
Management and Information System for monitoring purposes. The evaluation
of the programme is done on an annual basis by external evaluators. Periodic
ad hoc diagnostic studies are also done. More specific M&E information
of the programme will be provided in future publications of this journal.