THE PLACE OF MONITORING AND EVALUATION SYSTEM IN DEVELOPMENT GOVERNANCE

THE PLACE OF MONITORING AND EVALUATION SYSTEM IN DEVELOPMENT GOVERNANCE

Last week was one of my best and a good one for democracy as I had the opportunity of participating in a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) training organized by Cloneshouse Nigeria. Pre this training, I had a contracted knowledge of the M&E process (also referred in this piece as The Process) albeit I was quite aware that its skills are amongst the most requested of, in the non-profit development space. The only thing I could remember on M&E was one of my International Economics professor’s comments that inadequate M&E frameworks are one of the problems facing governance in Africa. As someone passionate about knowledge, outstandingly so when it concerns development, my interest and expectations from the training were hyper-raised.

What I did immediately was to seek permission from my boss to attend the training and scan through most of my Masters’ education briefs in International Economic Policy Analysis to probably get a deeper insight into what The Process was all about. I also went online, trying to have a briefing about the theme. Summary of what I picked was that The Process is a key component of policy processes and comes timely in improving and assessing performance of programs, projects, institutions and policies.

The first day of the 8-day training proved to me that I was in the right place. It was held at the Boardroom, on Ganges Street, Maitama, Abuja, and in participation were 9 colleagues in the development space from the British Council’s Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme and PACT Nigeria. The training started by introducing The Process and accentuating its very importance in the implementation of projects. ‘The essence of M&E is to achieve results in programs implementation and for measuring the extent and impacts of  open government, open governance etc. in project implementation,’ said Oludotun Babayemi, one of the facilitators. So, The Process is for enhancing topical and future management of outputs, outcomes and impact of a program. The monitoring component of The Process helps in tracking the program activities so as to adjust deficiencies, while the evaluation component helps to assess the program’s performance after 2 – 5 years of its implementation.

From these were further lectures on the 12 components of an M&E system. According to Oludotun, ‘this is the engine of The process.’ The components encompasses organizational structure for M&E system, human capacity building of M&E staffers, carrying all relevant stakeholder partnerships necessary, communicating processes and performance of the program to relevant stakeholders, M&E plan, costed work plan, routine monitoring to improve performance, periodic surveys, data auditing, database system, evaluation and research, and using information to improve results.

What caught my attention was the configuration of an M&E plan which has the logical framework, data source matrix, budget, information product matrix, information dissemination matrix, managing partnerships between stakeholders and when the M&E system and plan will be reviewed. The logical framework, which remains one of the most important component of the M&E plan and process interested me the most, as it contains the result chain [inputs, activities, outputs (routine monitoring), outcomes and impact (evaluation)]. All of the result chain elements have indicators for measuring them. These indicators have baseline (situation before program implementation accessed during baseline assessment) and targets (quantifiable goals of the different components of the result chain – what the program intends to achieve at each stage).

The evaluation component of The Process was unpacked highlighting the core focus of such, such as efficiency, effectiveness, relevance, sustainability and impact. The evaluation report is prepared through the segmentation and population of the themes and so wise the preparation of data collection tools. According to one of the facilitators, ‘Before you design an evaluation plan, you must study the program framework very intensively to understand roles and partnerships. In addition, collecting data for evaluation report should be from the implementing agency and beneficiaries, and within the themes of Evaluation.’

Data collection for periodic monitoring, surveys and evaluation are exceedingly vital in The Process as it presents the sources of data, publication dates, who does what, budget for the data collection or access and methodology of data collection etc. In addition were exposures to monitoring information system, logical framework, checklist for evaluation planning etc. From this were lectures on the data collection and analysis component of evaluation in M&E – how programs are evaluated. Google forms were used to simplify the preparation of data collection tools, electronic data collection, and it automatically gathers data and input in a database (Google Spreadsheet). The Spreadsheet was so handy for data analysis. We were also exposed to the Kobo tool box for mobile data collection. Microsoft Excel was also used for data analysis. Altogether, as someone that has been battling with using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences for elementary data analysis, the applications/software helped to demystify data analysis.

At the end of the training, I presented an M&E plan for a pseudo program. The plan was for an international nonprofit 2 year program which intends to improve literacy rate in a certain Shikira community from 25% in 2017 to 35% in 2019 through improving primary school enrollment in the community and improving teachers knowledge and teaching skills. The community, with a population of 1,000 with 60% being under 14 children has one of the poorest literacy rates in a State with poor primary school enrollment rate, inadequate number of classrooms and teaching equipment, and lack of skilled teachers. Please find the M&E plan/assignment here. The plan was supposed to make sure the results and objectives of the program were achieved.

This was a phenomenal training and wonderful exposure to M&E for me. Having stated that I started the training with no single knowledge of The Process, I am still surprised about how fast I learnt and how meaningful and interesting the training was. Perhaps, the expansive knowledge of the facilitators, their quality teaching skills and the various M&E System templates used and shared guaranteed this. This was so beautiful to me and I look forward to having the knowledge gained become relevant as I move forward career wise and academically. As someone passionate about economic development and interested in the development sector, I was really impressed. This was beautiful. This was SUPER. M&E really interests me and remains one of the best initiatives or processes in the development sector.

I think M&E training is necessary for everyone in the development space, both in public and nonprofit organizations. Organizations also have to send their staffers for such training. The dynamics of the training are expansive and cuts across the normative operations of organizations. For human capacity building, monitoring and evaluating performance and achieving results in programs and projects, as well as for enhanced organizational productivity, such training is exceedingly important.
Chambers Umezulike is a Programme Manager at Connected Development and a Development Expert. He spends most of his time writing and choreographing researches on good and economic governance. He tweets via @Prof_Umezulike.

CELEBRATING  WOMEN ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!

CELEBRATING WOMEN ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!

International Women’s day , March 8 is a day set aside to celebrate social, political, cultural,and economical achievement for women around the world. The theme for this year is women in the changing world of work, Planet 50:50 by 2030 while the goal is to ensure actors step up gender equality towards a planet where world of work works for all women. This requires that policies should be set in place to promote and protect women in their workplace and the economy at large, bridging gender gap and promoting gender parity.

To commemorate this year’s IWD, African Youth Initiative on Population, Health, and Development (AfrYPoD) organised an event co-sponsored by eight (8) other organisations including Connected Development (CODE). This event brought together people from different youth led and women centered organisations. The 3- hour long event was interesting, event filled and informative. It covered experience sharing from all the organisations present, organisations were asked to share experiences on how they have taken bold steps in helping women cater for the welfare as well as promoting women’s right.

Connected Development was not left out as we highlighted how we use our ‘Follow the Money project’ to track funds meant for rural communities, projects like-  the World bank funds for the Girl child education project in five northeastern states in Nigeria and the clean cook stove project, these projects were highlighted as they are gender specific.

The highlight of the event apart from the experience sharing was when Connected Development officially launched her report on “An examination of girls’ education in Nigeria and Follow the money 2016 report and Project Pink Blue’s Nigerian language translation of Breast cancer materials for women. Resolutions from participants include increased sensitization and drive advocacy for the domestication of Violence against person’s prohibition Act in states while promoting women empowerment.

I was particularly excited to have attended the event, seeing young, vibrant, and intelligent  women ready to take up challenging roles and working towards the actualization of planet 50:50. Moreso,  the men present pledged their support towards helping us achieve gender equality.

It was a rich, informative and engaging event  and I was particularly inspired to #BeBoldforChange and proud to be a woman.

 

Ensuring Open Government on World Bank’s $500 million Health Credit to the Nigerian Government for SOML PforR

Ensuring Open Government on World Bank’s $500 million Health Credit to the Nigerian Government for SOML PforR

[Follow The Money Team, ONE Campaign Africa Country Director and The World Bank SOML PforR Departmental Personnel]

 

In 2012, the Nigerian Federal Government initiated the Saving One Million Lives Program For Results (SOML PforR). It was a program to rollback child and maternal mortality in the country and save an estimate of 900,000 women and children that die each year through preventable causes. The program was also intended to improve immunization and nutritional outcomes across the country and train birth attendants etc. Subsequently in 2015, the World Bank approved $500 million credit for the program. To ensure transparency and accountability in the fund’s implementation, on 2 February of the same year, the Bretton Woods institution invited Civil Society Organizations for a consultative meeting to get their feedback, suggestions and inputs on the program.

Between 2015 and 2016, there was no other such of civil society engagement by the World Bank on the credit, occasioning speculations about what could be happening to the fund. However, around September 2016, the World Bank provided $55.5 million as part of the credit to the Federal Ministry of Health who then gave $1.5 million to each of the 36 states and the FCT. At the receipt of this development, we started tracking the implementation of the one and half million dollars at Primary Healthcare Centres across rural communities in Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Kano, Kogi, Osun and Yobe States. But this been back-breaking following information crisis, confusion, secrecy and anomalous reporting on the fund. As at December 2016, many of the states were saying that they have not received the fund. In addition, it was only Yobe State that gave us their Work Plan for the fund, while other states did not even acknowledge our Freedom of Information (FOI) requests on that.

Several FOI requests to the Ministry of Health and its SOML PforR Department for details on states that have received the fund were never acknowledged. Consequently, on 8 December, 2016, we wrote the World Bank Country Office asking for audience to share our experience with respect to tracking the fund and getting several key details on the fund release dynamics from them. They did not acknowledge or reply our request too. In January 2017, we overheard President Buhari making a pronouncement that the $1.5 million has been released to all the states.

Following these developments, we wrote again to the World Bank on 27 February seeking an audience on the SOML PforR and we were invited for a meeting on 8 March, 2017. In the meeting with the institution’s SOML Program Lead, Dr Benjamim Loevinsohn was impressed that a CSO is genuinely interested in ensuring open government in the implementation of the fund. He briefed us of several developments around the $55.5 million and the SOML PforR itself. He promised collaborations and information sharing with Follow The Money Team to ensure the fund would be clinically implemented to save thousands of lives across the country.

He also used the occasion to comment on Nigeria’s immunization outcome, which was surprisingly lower than that of Afghanistan. The latter has been into political instability for more than a decade. Similarly, Cameroon and Ghana all have better immunization outcome than Nigeria. “The problem in Nigeria has been vaccines supply issue,” said Dr Benjamin. On the $1.5 million, he also stated, “the fund has been released to each of the states and the FCT. I am certain that as at last 3 weeks, about 30 states have gotten access to the fund. The remaining few states have not accessed the fund because they have not met up with some of the fund access regime elements.”

Dr Benjamin promised to discuss with the Ministry of Health over quarterly engagements with the civil society and the media on the SOML PforR implementation.

YES, IT’S OPEN DATA DAY AGAIN!

YES, IT’S OPEN DATA DAY AGAIN!

I have had a couple of friends ask me “what is this Open Data day about sef?”. Well, to answer them and anybody else out there who may be asking the same question:

Open Data Day is an annual celebration of open data all over the world. It is a day set aside for open data enthusiasts and indeed everyone to bring light to the importance of open data. It is a day to show the benefits of open data and encourage the adoption and implementation of open data policies in the public and private sector as well as in civil society.

What is Open Data?

According to the Open Data handbook; Open data is data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone – subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and sharealike. In summary, Open Data is data that anyone can access, use and share

How can Open Data aid development?

Whether we realise it now or in the future, Open Data really is the cornerstone of good governance and development. If citizens are able to access, understand and use information pertaining to public life, they are encouraged to become much more active citizens, keeping the government accountable and fulfilling their own part of the social contract. Government in turn, knowing that they can and are being held to account by the citizens they serve will have no choice than to act in the best interest of the citizens at all time- also fulfilling their own part of the social contract.

In short, Open Data is a demonstration of an Open government.

You can join in the open data discussion for this year by joining our Data Thorn on Skype by registering at Open Data Day 

See you there!

POLICY PROCESSES AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA

POLICY PROCESSES AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA

A policy is a guideline that governments employ to address specific public or national issues. Several issues concerning economic growth and development are addressed through governmental employment of policies. Issues such as inequality, inflation, budget-deficit, monetary and fiscal instabilities, economic diversification, unemployment, poverty, human capital deficit, boosting manufacturing, rural development, attracting foreign direct investment and many more. This makes policymaking processes as well as implementation exceedingly imperative. Political leaders have over time, used policies to transform their countries and address societal challenges and complaints. Policies are always a response or reaction to several developments and mostly followed by institutional mechanisms for implementation.

For example, Oportunidades [(English: Opportunities) (now rebranded as Prospera)], a welfare program, was created by the Mexican government in 2002, to eradicate poverty through providing cash payments to families in exchange for regular school attendance, health clinic visits and nutritional support. Through this policy, Mexico has been successful in reducing poverty and improving health and educational levels around the country. The program encompasses Conditional Cash Transfer to families to ensure that children attend school and family members receive preventative healthcare. It also includes rigorous selection of recipients based on a considerable number of geographic and socioeconomic factors. It has been considered as one of the most phenomenal programs on eradicating poverty (through it, millions of lives have been transformed) and this has become a model for similar programs instituted in other countries.

The emerged or newly industrialised East Asian economies were able to transform their countries and develop through aggressive, far reaching policies that were geared towards: boosting domestic production (export led growth); attracting investors (through providing an enabling environment: infrastructure, educated and skilled workforce, laws to protect foreign businesses, reduction of corporate taxes to reduce the cost of production and political stability); privatisation to increase private ownership and efficiency; reforming public institutions; managing trade unions to curtail their extreme practices, increase productivity and efficiency; manufacturing and industrialisation; and family planning. These were clear-cut socio-economic policies and through effective leadership, these policies were implemented to the last. These governments also used incentives and subsidies to encourage domestic production. In addition, most of them effectuated public housing schemes and provided subsidies in education and health sectors to counter poverty and inequality. They also effectuated wealth distribution policies after they had created wealth.

East Asian leaders changed the stories of their countries through deep-seated sincerity and commitment to the implementation of these policies, to lift millions out of poverty. They adhered to the full stages of policymaking – institutionalised policymaking – created conducive environment for the policies to thrive – improved governance – provided adequate funding and staff for the implementation of these polices – used experts in policymaking process – supervised implementation – and monitored and evaluated these policies. For instance, in Singapore, the public housing scheme was an initiative to bring together the races: Chinese, Indians and Malays, so as to counter fractionalisation crisis and this worked so well.

African governments have been experiencing enormous challenges in crafting clear-cut policies and implementing them. First, most of the first generation of African leaders were not entirely prepared for leadership, so could not make sound policies to address fractionalisation crisis and economic underdevelopment. They lacked the exposure to understand the importance of coherent and efficient public policies under the counsel of neo-classical counter revolution and how these influence development. What public policy for economic development or social challenge did the likes of Idi Amin, Mobutu Sese Seko and Kamuzu Banda make? None!

Secondly, the military that defenestrated these leaders from power just focused on consolidating power, imprisoning emerging political opponents and embezzling funds. The soldiers joined their predecessors in practices that are against comprehensible policy processes. Practices such as nepotism, favoritism and corruption, while frustrating important themes of development such as industrialisation, external trade expansion, foreign investment attraction etc. The oil boom era saw the concentration of these leaders on primary exports, while some of them got comfy with receiving foreign aid and never utilising it efficiently especially with respect to using it for capital expenditure. Only few made policies on building infrastructure, expanding agriculture and eradicating poverty. So this resulted from bad leadership to bad governance and then to policy crisis.

Albeit, there have been some improvements since the 90s. African governments are still having deep challenges in making comprehensible policies to address several pressing socioeconomic concerns. Most policies were not well formulated or implemented because of weak public institutions, policy reversals, incoherent policies, lack of appurtenant human and material resources and political will deficit from political leaders. Corruption, lack of expertise in policymaking, inadequate funding, poor governance, roadside declarations, political instabilities, poor monitoring and evaluation templates and poor prioritisation of issues are further challenges facing policymaking and implementation in Africa.

Moving forward, African governments should institutionalise policymaking, improve governance, reform public institutions and extend consultation to all the involved stakeholders in policymaking. There should be policies to address several developmental challenges that would be implemented through proper policy implementation mechanisms and with adequate political will. There should also be comprehensive policies on massive attraction of foreign investors and providing an enabling environment for them, as well as on spurring domestic manufacturing and diversifying exports. Policies such as the Mexican Oportunidades should be replicated to address poverty by African governments. In addition, there should be coherent policies on wealth distribution, rural development, assets redistribution (land reforms), provision of public goods and services, infrastructural expansion and rural healthcare programs. Further policies on family planning to address population explosion, as well as on peace-building to prevent the re-occurrence of conflicts that have devastated the continent are exceptionally important. These policies should be implemented with surplus rigour and efficiency.

 

Chambers Umezulike is a Program Officer at Connected Development and a Development Expert. He spends most of his time writing and choreographing researches on good and economic governance. He tweets via @Prof_Umezulike.

Tax Treaty. Training by ActionAid. My Experience.

Tax Treaty. Training by ActionAid. My Experience.

All these and more have been encapsulated in the reason behind the Tax Treaty Training hosted by ActionAid to bring to the fore, concise details of the Nigeria taxing system and the processes of Tax Treaties between Countries, most especially, Nigeria.

Hosted at one of the Luxurious halls of Sandralia Hotel, Jabi, from 20th to 21st February. The First Day of the training was dedicated to elucidate and make more comprehensible – Tax and Tax Treaties.

Coming in at Lunch, I was greeted by Kolo Kenneth who immediately handed a mini postcard sized paper to me, voila – a meal ticket. Headed straight to the lunch room. The rest is history!

Funny, I was seated next to one of ActionAid’s speakers for the event – Lovisa Moller and we spoke for the entire period of the lunch.

Lovisa Moller gave her insightful piece “Tax Treaties – a critical perspective”. Sliding through, she left no stone unturned as she explained the core of Tax and Treaties.

“Tax Treaty is an agreement between two countries to divide up and limit taxing rights. Tax Treaties decide how much, and even if, the Contracting States can tax multinational companies.Tax Treaties are also known as Double Tax Agreements (DTAs), Double Tax Treaties (DTTs) and Double Taxation Conventions (DTCs)”.

Still on Tax Treaties, she explained ‘How rights are divided up’. According to the slide report, it is:

  • Source vs Resident Taxation.
  • Rules are Neutral in theory, assymetrical in practice.
  • OECD and UK model Treaties propose different versions. Moreso, ActionAid analysis of 519 tax treaties concluded that: Tax Treaties impose an unfair burden on lower-income countries compared to wealthier countries.A question was raised by Lovisa as to ‘why countries sign treaties’, the floor was aroused to action and heads began to sway in contention for answers.

Here are some of the answers that were given:

  • New markers attracts Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
  • Reduces taxes and ignites smoother investment .
  • It boots exports.

Moreover, in answering the question, she explained thus, “Tax Treaties attract more foreign investment – it can be assumed that Treaties will cause foreign investment to increase. The empirical evidence on the investment of Treaties is mixed. The potential revenue loss, especially to developing countries – including through ‘Treaty shopping’ – has caused increasing concern”.

ActionAid’s International Policy and Campaign Advisor; Lovisa Moller gave some brief lessons in the history of Tax Treaties before moving ahead.

ActionAid, through Lovisa Moller gave a strong reason why we should care about Nigeria Taxing rights. It was directly disclosed to participants of the training that:

15 out of every 100 children die at the age of 5. Meanwhile, Nigeria is reputed as Africa’s largest economy, the continent’s largest oil producer and largest owner of natural gas proven reserves. These sharp contrasts between socio-economic state and resource abundance makes for compelling need to evaluate reasons for insufficient flows of funds to the government by businesses who should contribute their fair share to the development of the country.

Noteworthy it is – Nigeria Treaty Ratification process, below is the process;

  • Initial Preparation
  • Negotiations
  • Approval (The Federal Executive Council approves the negotiated text)
  • Signature (The Minister of Finance or his/her representatives)
  • Ratification (The National Assembly must choose to enact into law)
  •  Entry into Force
  •  Renegotiation or termination

 

It was noted that there are impacts and implications in the processes that surrounds Tax Treaties, some of which the underlisted explains:

  1. It creates allowance for tax evasion and (or) treaty shopping.
  2.  Difficult to distinguish between genuine investors and “shell” companies.
  3. Nigeria being a net importer will remain so for the nearest future, the DTT by limiting the taxing right of Nigeria on dividend interest and royalty potentially reduces the tax base of the country which will.impact negatively on the revenue generation for the country. ActionAid however gave some promising recommendations on the above. It’s a praiseworthy effort from their part, of not only critically looking to the taxiing system but also giving lasting recommendations.

Read below, some of these recommendations…

1. Consider reviewing the current tax Treaty network to determine if the country actually is benefitting from its current and potential future tax treaties
2. Place a special review focus on the Treaties with Kuwait, Mauritius, Belgium, China, Spain, and the United Kingdom, as these have been found to restrict Nigeria’s rights more  than the norm.
3. Subject treaty negotiations, ratification, and impact assessment to far greater public scrutiny.I ended day one on a highly fulfilled note but understanding that Day two was pregnant with so much more, my impatience was steady.

Cluster Group of CSOs. talking Nigeria Tax Challenges

Day 2 started with a lot of innovative ideas around Tax, the moderator, Tunde Aremu was all around the hall fielding questions from participants and in return was checking on our level of memory retention – asking about lessons learnt on Day 1.

Tunde Aremu of ActionAID

He made startling, momentarily shocking revelations on how multinational companies have evaded taxes. Of all, he said “Firms like Deloitte have constantly aided and abetted countries on ways to avoid Tax payments”.

So much more was made known within the hours of the training. It was also explained – the various types of Tax rights; Profit tax, Withholding Tax, Capital gains tax.

We were asked to form clusters of CSOs, Journos to discuss challenges that beset Nigeria’s formulation of a concrete tax Treaty.

We were able to identify the listed as the challenges:

  • Secrecy in processes involved in drafting treaties
  • Low level of awareness on implementation of the Tax Treaties.
  • Perceived Capacity Gap 
  • Excessive Conception of Taxing rights.

We also discussed HOW TO TACKLE THESE CHALLENGES below are points from our discussion: That:-

  1.  There should be policy that is open and transparent and more private sector involvement / participation.
  2. Policies that allow participation of expertise around the specific Tax Treaty being negotiated.
  3.  Strict implementation of the Tax Policy rights
  4. The MDAs should be up to their responsibilities in making public – any Treaty entered into.

How can CSOs, POLITICIANS, GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS, MEDIA, LABOUR contribute to making these responses happen?

  1. They need to crucially understand the existing Treaties
  2. They should create awareness through the Media
  3. Mapping our relevant stakeholders for Advocacy and Engagement processes.

 

Enjoy your week.

I leave you to ponder on these revelations, I was wowed upon seeing these, I hope you will, too.

Social Cost of Revenue Lost to Tax Loopholes

– As much as tax is every citizen’s responsibility and  as well as companies doing business in the country, only few Citizens pay tax. The poorest who live in the rural areas are known to suffer this burden more, through multiple taxation. (HOW OFTEN DO YOU GET TAXED/ PAY YOUR TAX?)

– Corporations use their connection with political elites and Loopholes in Nigeria’s tax system to access tax holidays for their greedy benefits. (ARE YOU ONE OF THEM?)

– Due to tax loopholes, corporations and political elites engage in illicit financial flows to tax havens where financial secrecy is in place or low tax levies enable them profit from the act.

PAY YOUR TAX!

 

Olusegun Olagunju is the Media Strategist at Connected Development, He’s a Sociologist. He hopes to see a world where equal rights of all genders will be respected and a safe environment will be achieved. He tweets via @mobolsgun