Strengthening Systems of Oversight in African Parliaments (Oversight)
Twende Mbele’s work through CLEAR-AA and APNODE in strengthening the capacity of parliaments and parliamentarians is premised on the understanding that parliamentarians can serve as strategic allies in advancing the use of evidence to deepen democracy through their legislative, oversight and representative roles. If effectively applied, these roles have the potential to significantly increase demand for and use of M&E evidence among government and civil society, and to champion and adopt relevant policies to entrench evaluation use through effective national evaluation systems.
However, interest and capacity to engage with M&E evidence is varied among and within African parliaments. In working with various parliaments and parliamentarians over the past two years, a key finding from the capacity strengthening interventions is the low uptake of monitoring and evaluation findings in oversight. Legislators and support staff tend to display limited capacity to seek out and interpret evaluation findings. These limitations are linked to the lack of systems within parliaments that can promote evidence use for legislation and oversight and that can link parliaments to the executive more effectively in terms of accountability dimensions.
This area of Twende’s work is mostly delivered in partnership with CLEAR AA (and IDEV) and encompasses:
- training with parliamentarians,
- support to APNODE,
- work on an Oversight Monitoring tool
- development of two Massive Online Open Courses
- technical assistance and work with portfolio committees in East Africa.
Since the inception of the Twende Mbele programme in 2016, the first phase of the parliamentary work included a series of training interventions undertaken in East and West Africa to strengthen demand and use of evaluations among parliamentarians and support staff. This included training of parliamentarians and support staff in Benin, Tanzania, Ghana and Uganda, as well as the ECOWAS parliament, as well as Train-the-Trainer (ToT) workshops for parliamentary trainers in Ghana and Uganda. These activities were implemented in collaboration with APNODE, which allowed for parliamentary champions to lead the capacity strengthening processes, and share lessons from a regional network. The trainings also provided a platform to profile the work of APNODE, which is in line with APNODE’s strategic priorities around outreach, learning and sharing.
The project intervention logic is further underpinned by a number of assumptions about the enabling environment such as:
- a) the availability and skills of support staff, the willingness and ability of MPs to deal with lobby groups effectively,
- b) effective cooperation and communication between parliamentary committees and departments;
- c) useful structure and focus of oversight visits and effective mechanisms to capture, triangulate and contextualize findings.