The need to have personnel that are knowledgeable and experienced in Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) has increasingly become a must-have in the public sector. This is not only one of the key requirements by development partners, but because it is also one of the good practices that the public sector ought to embrace fully.
M&E plays a critical role in ensuring effective planning, design, implementation, and management of development interventions. It is no secret that effective M&E greatly influences the realisation of goals and objectives of public sector organisations.
M&E serves several key functions: It enables tracking of progress during implementation of programmes to detect early warning signs if projects are not progressing according to plan and objectives.
It also promotes efficient deployment of resources, and facilitates the utilisation of reliable, timely and relevant information. Information consolidated from M&E processes contributes to achieving national goals and strategies by providing relevant information on the achievement of set targets and impact.
However, quite often; the public sector operates in an environment of limited resources, and most organisations have lean M&E teams, with the majority manned by only one or two staff.
At times, there are public agencies and government ministries do not have developed M&E systems; and lack access to information and communication technology (ICT) systems.
For M&E teams and staff in the public sector to perform their roles to required standards and produce expected results, they need tailored capacity development to personnel with the relevant competencies to strengthen their understanding of the role, data quality management, reporting, knowledge management and organisational learning, and the use of information in evidence-based decision-making.
M&E capacity development also requires physical components such as databases to manage the information generated and procurement of the right ICT tools (software and hardware) for M&E teams to work effectively.
However, despite the advantages enjoyed in having a strong M&E system and team, lack of access to adequate resources (both financial and human resources), has emerged as the key challenge to developing capacity and equipping M&E teams with the right skills-set and tools.
In order to counter this challenge and develop M&E capacity in resource- limited environments, a number of strategies can be considered: Creating skills transfer programmes, whereby experienced external M&E professionals from other public sector institutions come train and transfer skills to local M&E personnel in public sector organisations.
These can assist in sharing experience and building the required M&E skills in the long-run.
It is also important that additional resources (both financial and human) for developing M&E capacity are mobilised, particularly, where such funding is lacking.
The good news is that they are several development partners that are willing to work with government agencies by providing technical expertise and financial resources required to build sound M&E systems.
Encouraging more training for in-country staff in M&E, data quality management, reporting and information use.
Government bodies can hire experts to develop tailored and comprehensive training material, which would be transferred to the institution at the end of the training to ensure sustainability and continuity.
Selected staff members can be undergo training of trainers (ToTs) course so they are in position to conduct future training of the other personnel involved in M&E activities.
It is essential that the public sector encourages a culture of knowledge management and organisational learning as an effective capacity building strategy institutions should use without incurring additional costs. Such an approach guarantees knowledge sharing and transfer.
Lastly, public sector institutions should encourage mentorship and promotion of appropriate succession plans to ensure M&E sustainability, especially in resource-limited settings.
The writer is a senior consultant - monitoring & evaluation, government and public sector services, at PwC Rwanda