Uganda, South Africa, Benin have invested significantly in national M&E systems. They have been working together with CLEAR Anglophone Africa since 2012, after a workshop in March 2012 to share experiences of M&E in Africa.
The wider outcome of the programme is that “Effective M&E systems (eg practices, policies, tools and procedures) are implemented widely and sustained in partner and other countries with ongoing collaboration across Africa around M&E”. The immediate outcome is that ‘Improved M&E systems (eg practices, policies, tools and procedures) based on shared experience are operational in partner countries and more widely’. Therefore the project’s core is active collaboration between partners who are committed to using M&E information to learn and improve government’s performance and impact on citizen. It will achieve this through 5 outputs, (1) stimulating demand to use M&E tools within partner countries and by other governments for improved governance, (2) Increased learning and (3) increased sharing in Africa around use of M&E for improved governance, (4) Specific M&E practices, policies, tools and procedures developed collaboratively, (5) Effective and collaborative programme management. CLEAR Anglophone Africa is providing project management support, through its host the University of Witwatersrand (Wits).
The core partners will collaborate on the development of different M&E systems, ranging from assessing the performance of management in government, strengthening the role of civil society in national M&E systems, improving the gender responsiveness of national M&E systems, and strengthening the effectiveness of national evaluation systems. 6 core partners are envisaged during the first 3 years of the programme. A much wider group of partners will participate in learning and sharing activities, in the process stimulating interest in the use of M&E for improving government’s effectiveness,
What is unique about Twende Mbele is that it is country-driven, and focuses on active collaboration rather than just networking, encouraging countries to actively learn from each other and implement, so maximising the likelihood of making a difference. It is also focusing on M&E not as an end in itself, but where it is used to improve government’s performance and impact.
The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation has hosted several peer learning events during the foundation phase of Twende Mbele, including:
- A workshop to adapt MPAT to other national contexts
- Training for mid level civil servants on M&E, including course pilots on Theory of Change and Planning Implementation Programmes
In the coming year, a diagnostic will be carried out on the national evaluation system, and peer reviews of evaluations in the systems will allow DPME to learn from the experiences of Uganda and Benin.
In Benin, the Ministry of Evaluation of Public Policies has been instrumental in Twende cooperation. They have led the way in collaborative initiatives with the Monitoring and Evaluation Association in Benin, and have identified key ways civil society is involved in the evaluation steering committee. Furthermore, they have been instrumental in conceptualizing the gender diagnostic that was conducted across all three countries during the foundation phase of Twende Mbele.
In Uganda, the department of Policy Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation has actively driven several Twende initiatives. Higher Education Institutions across Africa have come together under the leadership of Ugandan institutions to propose a process of collaborative curriculum development.
In an upcoming National Evaluation Workshop in Uganda, some of the emergent findings from the foundation phase of Twende Mbele will be presented.
The Centre for Learning on Evaluation and Results – Anglophone Africa has coordinated the CLEAR initiative. With a long standing mandate to strengthen both the supply and demand of national evaluation systems across the region, CLEAR is uniquely well placed to support and facilitate the learning and sharing mandate of Twende Mbele.
Increased Demand for Monitoring and Evaluation within partner countries and by other governments
Demand for Monitoring and Evaluation is uneven across Africa, but growing at an exponential rate. Twende was inspired in part from this growth of demand for locally relevant and responsive approaches to building national monitoring and evaluation systems. All three countries as well as CLEAR have been engaging in a range of activities to build demand in the region, and there are now coordinated efforts around:
- Identifying and supporting institutional and individual champions for monitoring and evaluation
- Training top management around evidence based policy making, monitoring and evaluation
- Around engaging with parliament, and linking monitoring and evaluation with other bodies of oversight and accountability, and
- Empowering civil society around the importance of use of evidence in policy making
The locally owned element of Twende Mbele is essential. No programming takes place that is outside of the plan of action of the countries involved. This makes sharing a core component of the programme. That way, new approaches learn from other, contextually similar experiences in building national monitoring and evaluation systems. Some sharing activities that are envisaged include:
- Strengthening relationships with Monitoring and Evaluation Associations around the professionalization of M&E
- Carrying out a diagnostic on the demand for and capacity of evaluators at the national level
- Strengthening the communications component of national M&E systems.
- Working with the media to understand the role of M&E, and the systems currently in place to support it.
Monitoring and evaluation systems are relatively new to the region, and growing at a rapid rate. They are currently under-researched, and there is relatively little knowledge about best practices in building them in an African context. One of the objectives of Twende Mbele is to increase learning on how best to strengthen national monitoring and evaluation systems in the region. Some activities envisaged include:
- Peer reviewing evaluations in other countries national evaluation systems
- Carrying out study tours, learning exchanges, colloquia and other learning events
- Strengthening research on good practice
Specific Monitoring and Evaluation Tools are Developed Collaboratively
Collaborative tools development is central to the success of Twende, because it is only through developing and implementing moniotirng and evaluation tools collaboratively can countries learn from their experiences around common areas of interest. One of the strongest areas of collaboration during the foundation phase was around adapting MPAT to different national contexts. Other activities envisaged include:
- Adapting citizen based monitoring initiatives
- Developing shared courses for M&E staff in government
- Strengthening systems for planning across government
Effective and Collaborative programme management, governance, and operations
Twende Mbele is committed to high levels of accountability, transparency and learning. It is governed by a board with representatives from each of the partner countries, with a rotating chair.
CLEAR-AA, based at the Wits School of Governance, coordinates the work of Twende Mbele. The programme manager of Twende Mbele is Caitlin Blaser, and for any questions or input around the Twende Mbele programme, she can be reached at Caitlin.firstname.lastname@example.org