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This article is taken from the April 2000 Phatlalatsa newsletter

 

Monitoring and evaluation: the Community Based Public Works Programme

Elma 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 system.

M&E Theory

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 collect

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 this.

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.

 

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