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Civil Society Organization (CSO)

In many African countries, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) play a crucial role in improving the use of evidence from evaluations at the national and subnational levels. Compared  to  governments,  they have a  longer history of  using  evaluations  for  strengthening  their  programmes. However, their roles with respect to supporting governments vary from country to country. The changing socio-economic and socio-political history of each country influences the roles that CSO shave played, including the case of South Africa, Uganda and Benin.  The constituencies of civil society are broad and hence their agendas for use of M&E and collaboration with government are varied. The interests of CSOs span fields such as human   rights, anti-corruption, health, agriculture, religious work, community-based services and professional associations.

Recognising  the  role  CSOs play in  promoting  greater  accountability in  governments  of  the  region through monitoring and evaluations can lead to greater benefits   for   the government and society at large. The  purpose  of  the  study  is to  identify  possible  areas  for  enhanced  collaboration  between  civil  society and government in strengthening the implementation and use of government M&E systems.

In positive complementary relationships, civil society organisations can provide support to government M&E systems. Examples include building evaluation capacity of government staff documenting processes in parliament (SA’s Parliamentary Monitoring Group) and monitoring budgets. The roles  of CSOs can be  expanded so  that  they  can contribute  their  expertise  and  their  understanding  of  service delivery   reality   to government evaluations at   various   stages; designing and undertaking evaluations, participating in steering committees and in dissemination and utilisation of results.

There is considerable scope for collaboration in M&E between African governments and civil society but these opportunities are not optimally taken advantage of; often a result of mutual suspicion. In general, CSOs implement government funded  programmes  as  well  as  provide  checks  and  balances  to  public sector  agencies,  where they are involved in  advocacy  and  oversight  of national and local government too. In such processes, M&E is an important tool for their work.

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