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.