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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:

  1. a) the availability and skills of support staff, the willingness and ability of MPs to deal with lobby groups   effectively,
  2. b) effective cooperation and   communication between parliamentary committees and departments;
  3. c) useful structure and focus of oversight visits and effective mechanisms to capture, triangulate and contextualize findings.
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