IMANI’s in-house economist, Hubert Nii-Aponsah was part of a stakeholders’ dialogue held on the 6th of April 2016 regarding the institutionalization of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) framework in the national development planning process of Ghana. Below is a comprehensive report on the Dialogue.
By Hubert Nii-Aponsah | IMANI Press
On the 6th of April 2016, the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) organized a policy dialogue in collaboration with Ghana Monitoring and Evaluation Forum (GMEF) and UNICEF at the Accra International Conference Center. The dialogue was intended to gather contributions from various stakeholders including academics, researchers, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), the diplomatic community and the media to ultimately institutionalize Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) in the national development planning process of Ghana.
Presentations and Comments
The programme commenced at about 9:35 am. After the opening prayer from Rev Stephen Yaw Osei and the welcome address from Mrs Dede Bedu-Addo, GMEF coordinator, Dr Esther Ofei-Aboagye was introduced as the facilitator and chairperson of the programme. Dr Ofei-Aboagye mentioned that M&E was crucial and that she looked forward to a fruitful dialogue. Dr Grace Bediako, Senior Technical Advisor at NDPC gave the opening remarks.
Dr Bediako stressed the importance of M&E as a tool for assessing the extent to which government has fulfilled its promises to the citizenry within the national policy framework as well as identifying challenges and interdependency among programs. She also underscored the legal mandate of the NDPC (according to Article 87 of the constitution) to oversee M&E in Ghana and further emphasized the need for a National Evaluation Policy (NEP) to mandate various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to conduct M&E.
Mr. Clemens Gros, a consultant with UNICEF also made a contribution. He mentioned the relevance of M&E for evidence-based decision making. He explained that through evaluation, we are able to pause and reflect on whether we are doing the right thing, whether we are doing things the right way and whether there are better alternative methodologies or ways available that we can employ.
Mr Gros’ statement was followed by a presentation from Dr Charles Amoatey of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA). His presentation was essentially on findings from a desk review of National Evaluation Policies in countries such as South Africa, Uganda and the Philippines with the aim of highlighting crucial lessons Ghana can learn, moving forward. Among other issues, Dr Amoatey emphasized the following:
1) The NDPC is limited in terms of its capacity to implement a NEP citing that in 2011, the body spent about 14% of its budget on M&E with only 1% going into Evaluation of policies. Therefore its capacity must be strengthened.
2) The need to institutionalize M&E through the guidance of a NEP.
3) The NEP must be simple and bereft of ambiguities as well as consistent so that results can be aggregated from the district level to grasp the national picture of a particular sector.
4) Projects should be evaluated in the medium-term as they may not have instantaneous impact after implementation.
5) MDAs should prioritize M&E with consequences for those who shirk the M&E responsibility.
There was a discussion of the research findings from Dr Amoatey’s presentation. Some of the issues raised included the need to pay attention to Monitoring and not Evaluation only since the two are strongly linked, the need to have quality data and ensuring the coordination of the data so that M&E results can be aggregated from district to national level. He also mentioned ensuring that CSOs are part of the oversight of the NEP and not just the Office of the President.
The discussion was followed by a break for snacks. Subsequently, there was a break out session into four groups in order to answer four (4) broad questions with associated sub-questions. Respectively, the groups aimed to answer these broad questions:
1) What should be the scope of the evaluation policy in terms of WHAT should be evaluated?
2) When should evaluations be conducted, according to the policy?
3) What should be the policy’s implementation and oversight mechanisms to make it successful?
4) How should the process of developing the evaluation policy be structured to make it successful?
Respectively, the group rapporteurs gave feedback to everyone after the break out session highlighting the following:
- Various policies, programmes or projects should be evaluated above a threshold value at all levels of government including the national, regional and district levels.
- Evaluation should be conducted before, during and after the programme. There was also a disagreement on a sub-question relating to whether some or all projects should be evaluated. One school of thought believed that it was appropriate to evaluate all policies or projects.
- The NDPC should be strengthened to implement the NEP and either an independent body could be established to provide the oversight, a civil society platform or adjustment should be made regarding political-nature of the appointment of NDPC commissioners so that they can have the oversight responsibility without being politically influenced. Also M&E reports should be available regularly on the relevant websites with a month lag.
- The NDPC should lead the process together with other key institutions including GSS, CSOs, Parliament and the Office of the President. The process of developing the NEP should vitally involve stakeholder consultation, dialogue, validation and adoption of the policy. Funding should come from government, development partners and CSOs.
Conclusion and IMANI’s participation
Dr Ofei-Aboagye summarized the work and asked for comments on the various answers provided. Among other comments, I [Hubert Nii-Aponsah] pointed out that although M&E is beneficial, it also comes with a cost and so we cannot evaluate all projects/policies as suggested by one school of thought in Group 2. We would need to weigh the potential benefit of conducting M&E for a programme against its cost in order to determine whether conducting M&E on that particular project would be worthwhile.
After the summary and comments, Mr Nana Opare-Djan M&E Deputy Director gave the vote of thanks after which there was the closing prayer from a volunteer. The programme ended with refreshment at about 3:00pm.