Friday, March 19, 2010

NAMs Hear Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation Process

NEWS BANJUL THE GAMBIA(MB)-Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation (PM and E) is an approach which involves local people, development agencies and policy makers deciding together, which can reveal valuable lessons and improve accountability.
This was explained by Yusupha F.J. Dibba a lecturer at the University of The Gambia to National Assembly Members (NAMS).
Mr. Dibba was presenting a paper on participatory monitoring and evaluation to NAMS on 13 February 2010 at a workshop held at Jerma Beach Hotel.
The National AIDS Secretariat (NAS) in collaboration with the UNDP organised the workshop to build the capacity of NAMS.
According to Mr. Dibba, adoption of the participatory approach to development provides an opportunity to all stakeholders, adding that it enables their institutions to participate effectively in defining, analysing and monitoring policies and programmes that were designed to address development outcomes.
Participation in all its forms, have been proven to enhance citizen engagement in the socio-economic development of any country.
“It is found to increase transparency in decision-making, improve accountability, promote ownership and, most important of all, it ensures sustainability”.
Evaluation, he explained, on the other hand mainly aims to determine the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability of a programme or project.
According to the UTG lecturer, evaluation is mostly undertaken selectively to answer specific questions to guide decision-makers and or programme managers, and to provide information on whether underlying assumptions used in programme development were valid, what worked and what did not work and why, he stated.
However, monitoring and evaluation is a powerful public management tool that can be used to improve the way governments and organisations achieve results.
He added, “monitoring is a continuous management function that aims primarily to provide managers and main stakeholders with regular feedback.
“It also enables them to identify early indications of progress and constraints impeding the achievement of intended results”.
According to Mr. Dibba, monitoring helps keep track of the actual performance or situation against what was planned or expected, according to predetermined standards and targets.
Therefore, it is a challenging process for all concerned since it encourages people to examine their assumptions about what constitutes progress, and to face the contradictions and conflicts that can emerge, said Mr. Dibba.
PM and E is being used by some governments, organisations and non-governmental organisations for many proposes such as project appraisal, project planning, community action planning, well being ranking, poverty assessment, monitoring and evaluation.
In The Gambia, he revealed, participatory processes have been given prominence since the beginning of the early 1990s as seen in the work of ActionAid the Gambia and late 1990s by SPACO, DOSH, Community Development and other NGOs in their development interventions.
“It is also quite often used in the sub region and beyond by many countries such as Senegal, Sierra Leone and Uganda, to name a few”.
Explaining the strengths of the approach, Mr. Dibba noted that it increases transparency of decision making, improves accountability, promotes ownership, improves sustainability, enhances empowerment processes, increases good governance and promotes knowledge transfer.
On its weakness, he said, among others, that “it cannot be used for generalisation, and that if the selection of participants does not cover a wide range of stakeholders, the information so collected may not reflect the perception of the whole population”.
Mr. Dibba said there has been an evolution in the field of monitoring and evaluation since the 1970s, involving a movement away from the traditional implementation-based approach towards the new participatory monitoring and evaluation approach.
According to him, development organisations need to know how effective their efforts have been” so as “to ensure that informed decisions are made”.
He further explained that PM and E is an approach which involves local people, development agencies and policy makers deciding together how progress should be measured. The PM and E approach can reveal valuable lessons and improve accountability, he added.
However, it is a challenging process for all concerned since it encourages people to examine their assumptions about what constitutes progress, and to face the contradictions and conflicts that can emerged.
PM and E, Mr. Dibba continued, is not just a matter of using participatory techniques within a conventional M and E setting. Participation, the UTG lecturer pointed out, is the process through which stakeholders influence and share control over priority setting, policy-making, resource allocations and access to public goods and services.
According to him, inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes and impacts are the level at which PM and E occurs.
PM and E has emerged because of a recognition of the limitations of the conventional approach.
“It is attracting interest from many quarters since it offers new ways of assessing and learning from change that are more inclusive. It is also more in line with the views and aspirations of those most directly affected”.
According to Mr. Dibba, it provides an opportunity for development organisations to focus better on their ultimate goal of improving the lives of the target beneficiaries, adding that it allows people to celebrate success, and learn from failures.
For those involved, it can also be a very empowering process, since it puts them in charge, helps develop skills, and shows that their views count.
This shift in thinking has been promoted by the following as the principles of PM and E, that is, Participatory, Negotiation, Learning and Flexibility.
The tools of PM and E, he outlined, are Participatory Rural Appraisal (PPA), Participatory Poverty Assessment (PPA), Strategic Planning Process (SPP), the Logical Framework Approach (LFA), Citizen Report Card (CRC), Community Scorecard (CSC), Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation (PM and E), and Participatory Learning for Action (PLA).
On who plans and manages the process, he said it is local people, project staff and other stakeholders often helped by a facilitator.

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