An analysis of the implementation of a monitoring and evaluation system : the case of the NGO SaveAct.
Honu-Siabi, MacCarthy Kofi.
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The importance of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) during programme implementation has driven many governments, organisations and donors to invest substantial means in developing comprehensive M&E and tools. However, research reveals that, while some of these comprehensive M&E systems have been successfully implemented, others could not be used to achieve the purposes for which resources were utilised in designing them. Some writers have explained that, even though great effort is invested in the development of M&E systems, not all of them actually get implemented, or even if they do, they are only partially implemented. One reason cited was the complexity of M&E systems, which makes implementation difficult. The Non-Governmental (NGO) sector in its implementation of social programmes, uses M&E systems and frameworks to monitor programmes for various reasons, including accountability and organisational learning purposes. A case study approach, using in-depth qualitative methods, was used to analyse the implementation of the M&E systems in SaveAct, an NGO based in Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal. A semi-structured interview guide was used to collect primary data. Interviews were conducted with various role-players within the system to gather information about their experiences of implementing M&E systems. Documents and reports were analysed to investigate the nature of the M&E systems, and their purposes and uses and implementation successes and challenges. The findings of the study revealed that in SaveAct the M&E is done for the purpose of accountability to donors and for organisational learning and improvement in programmes. Two previous frameworks were designed for intensive evaluation purposes, but could not be fully implemented. Challenges that emerged include the comprehensive nature of the frameworks, lack of human capacity and limited finances for implementation. However, regular data collection for monitoring was being successfully undertaken. Some of the success factors identified include the simple and easy-to-understand data collection tools and the inclusion of M&E activities in the routine work of staff (mainstreaming). M&E systems that have simple tools which clearly outline the goals and where the functions are included in the daily routine of the staff, are more likely to be implementable. The conclusions of the study were that M&E systems can be made more implementable if they are designed with an understanding that the system components are interrelated and an attempt is made to see to it that each component is functional, to ensure the mode of action of the entire system. M&E systems and frameworks should be designed to be simple and clear. They should contain fewer tools and should be easily understood by the people who do the actual data collection. The tools with fewer questions were easier to implement than those with many questions. M&E functions in SaveAct were more successful when included in normal routine work of the staff, or mainstreamed, and not undertaken as a separate activity and also when they are located within planning and budgeting functions of the organisation.