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.

Addressing Citizenry Extensive Concerns on the 2017 Budget Proposal

Addressing Citizenry Extensive Concerns on the 2017 Budget Proposal

On 23 February 2017, the Director-General (DG) of the Budget Office of the Federation choreographed a media briefing on several issues surrounding the 2017 Budget Proposal. The DG also used the briefing to make certain clarifications on public outcries over several budget items on the proposal. Most of these outcries were on many frivolous items (especially on electricity and utility bills of MDAs; several humongous expenses on the state house budget on utensils and feeding, electricity bills, travel expenses etc.); repetitions of budget items; budget cycle crisis; the budget preparation expenses; lack of details on some of the items; budget padding etc.

In attendance at the briefing were the media and Civil Society Organizations (CSO). In responding to some of these concerns, the DG took his time to counter some of the claims:

1). He stated that there was no sort of budget padding on the 2017 budget proposal.

2). That there were no frivolous items. That most of the extensive increments such as state house proposed expenditure on utensils and utility bills; electricity bills, security and cleaning services payments in MDAs etc. were either as a result of arrears of such bills/expenses or because funds were not later provided for them on the 2016 budget (meaning they were not implemented.)

3). He stated that there were no repetitions on the proposal, unless the repetitions being referred to were budget items on the 2016 one that re-reflected on the 2017 proposal, which was as a result of the fact that funds were not provided for such items on the former.

4). He reassured the audience of his liaison with the National Assembly to ensure that budget cycle would be from January – December of every year, which was clearly stated on the constitution, as against the culture of having a previous budget being implemented in another fiscal year.

5). He also explained that the details-deficit on some of the budget items were as a result of the perspective to keep the budget simple, for public consumption. That however that his agency would ensure further details on budget items when preparing subsequent budgets.

Representing Connected Development (CODE) at the event, I further engaged the DG and raised concerns over the NGN305/$ calculation on the budget proposal (while $1 is valued at NGN 520 at the contemporaneous market); if there are extensive plans for enhanced transparency and accountability in the 2017 budget implementation; our expectancy to lay hands on the 3rd and 4th quarters’ reports of 2016 budget implementation; his plans to ensure that revenue realization deficit would not frustrate the 2017 budget implementation drawing on the country’s experience with the 2016 one; and getting access to an extensive version of the budget that had further details on some of the line items. For the latter, I mentioned the ‘Talking Sanitation’, as well as ‘Afforestation’ and ‘Tree Planting’ budget items on the proposal, under the Ministry of Environment, which all lacked details such as where and how. Lack of such specific details has frustrated the works of CSOs that are into governmental capital expenditure tracking.

In addressing my concerns, the DG made commitments that were all in line with Nigeria’s commitments on the Open Government Partnership. He stated that the 3rd quarter 2016 budget implementation report would soon be in public domain while the 4th quarter’s would soon be out too. He further stated that there would be increased transparency, accountability and citizen engagement in the 2017 budget implementation. On this, he cited plans to have a digital platform for 24/7 citizen engagement on the budget. He also mentioned that there would be a breakdown on project basis subsequently when funds are released to MDAs. In addition, he promised a quarterly media briefing on the 2017 budget implementation. These were all good news and great outcomes for nonprofits that are into Open Governance advocacy. He mentioned categorically that the revenue realization plan on the proposal is quite realizable and that the FOREX regime crisis would not affect the budget implementation.

This media engagement is a step in the right direction as bringing all stakeholders involved and addressing public concerns on the budget proposal have boosted citizen participation in governance and also provided a platform for clarifications on several portions of the budget, as well as for stakeholders to make suggestions. It is hoped that the Director keeps to all the new commitments he made at the briefing and ensuring extensive open financial governance in the budget implementation. From our part, we are sending an FOI request for an extensive version of the budget, which he promised CODE would be provided with. And before I forget, he commented that he likes our name, ‘Follow The Money.’

 

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.

REVIEW OF CONSTITUENCIES DEVELOPMENT CATALYST FUND BILL

REVIEW OF CONSTITUENCIES DEVELOPMENT CATALYST FUND BILL

A one day public hearing on Constituencies Development Catalyst Fund  Bill, which was sponsored by Senator Buhari Abdulfatai  was organized by Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) in collaboration with the Senate Committee on Poverty Alleviation. The objective of the public hearing was to provide a platform for public discussions on Constituency Development Funds (CDFs) through a proposition of  a legal framework that seeks to address concerns that the CDF is a tool for the embezzlement of funds rather than an intended vehicle for development. The Bill attempts to address the democratic-deficit in citizen participation in governance by encouraging economic development and participation at the grassroots and also create a legal framework for Constituencies Development Funds.

In the public hearing, Senator Buhari, remarked that there was an urgent need for the bill to be adopted as it will help bring about transparency and accountability thereby ensuring that the constituents get a feeling of the commonwealth. He stated that Zambia has been operating it since 1995 while it is also being implemented in Ghana.

The CDF bill tends to apply to all Federal Constituencies in Nigeria. The Clause 4 establishes a Constituency Project Development Board to administer the funds allocated for Constituencies. Charges and expenditure from the fund shall be made in accordance with financial regulations, the Public Procurement Act as well as other provision in the bill. The Minister of Finance –Under clause 17(1) of the bill, the Council Planning Officer is to submit annual returns to the minister of Finance no later than 60 days after the end of every financial year. Allowable projects under the bill were not specifically indicated or listed, but the bill provides that they should be community based development projects with benefits that would be available to a wide section of inhabitants of the area in question.

It was such a rich and engaging deliberation as  fundamental observation and questions were raised which includes that the objectives of the Bill does not explicitly state the percentage of the annual budget that will be allocated to the Constituency Development Catalyst  Fund and merely refers to a portion of the Federal Annual Budget.  Also the composition of the Constituency Development Catalyst Committee in clause 10(c ) mandates that one of the councilors in the committee should be a woman. What happens where no woman has been elected as a counselor in the relevant Constituency? There is also no indication in the Bill on how all of the bureaucracy created by it will be funded. Lastly the currency for the fine in clause 28 (1) should be changed from shillings to Naira.

It is also imperative  to know that there is a similar Constituency Projects (Budgetary) Provisions Bill, 2016 sponsored by Sen. Stella Oduah that passed second reading on 8th December, 2016 and also a Constituency Development Fund Bill Sponsored by Sen. Ali Ndume that has passed first reading on 9th November, 2016. Similarly, in the House of Representatives such Bill exists which has apparently passed second reading and I ask “can’t these Bills be consolidated to have one Bill”?
I sincerely hope that the questions and recommendations made during the public hearing would be considered, as the Bill if enforced, its mechanism is likely to enhance citizen participation in the administration, management, monitoring and evaluation of funds that could bring about socio-economic development, empowerment, transparency and accountability in the constituencies.

Ijeoma Oforka is a Program Officer at Connected Development, with a background in Public Health. She is passionate about advocating for the plights and issues surrounding women and girls health and education. She tweets via @ijoforka

 

Begining The Year with a Bang!!!

Begining The Year with a Bang!!!

A new year presents a sea of new possibilities, especially for our works, lives and careers. It’s a time for making resolutions and setting goals. To kick-start our work for the year at Connected Development (CODE), an internal mentorship class was organized between January 16 – 20, 2017. The training was conducted to ensure that the team is guided at the work to be done and learn more about the inner workings of the organization that aren’t often spelled out in the organization chart and policies and also provide us a chance to attack our work with new vigor and passion.

The first day began with Oludotun Babayemi who was our mentor taking the first session on the concept of creativity, he highlighted the things that influence creativity. The session established that a project must challenge the statuesque as the most successful ones do not live on default and that there is also need for having the right attitude, gaining actual knowledge and connecting and combining with people or network for a project to run successful.
After the break, he took us on what Problem statement, mandate, scope and stakeholders analysis were, after which he asked that the team be divided into groups, with each person identifying a project he/she would want to carry out and state their goals, objectives, problem statement and scope of it.
Following the presentations and debrief, the training class was closed for the day.
Day 2 began with a presentation on Action plan which is an activity carried out throughout the project lapse. He also stated that it is measured by number of people carrying out the project, timeline and roles of people executing the project. He also did not fail to let us know what strategies, activities and execution of a project entails.

The focus on the morning of Day 3 was analyzing the funding ecosystem and coming up with budgets for projects. The team was then identified to present short summaries of what had gone on in the first two days of the training-workshop where we were all asked to work and pitch and pitch a project at the end of the training.

The fourth day which happened to be the last day of the training class happened to be the best day for me. We were asked to write what we would like to see on our tombstones. Tunde a colleague went overboard and said he wants to be” remembered as that who was able to solve world challenges” this got everyone interested to know how he intend to do that when identifying activities, input, output and outcome towards achieving that. Another outstanding experience was Chambers, who I believed was going to awesomely do well owing to the fact that he is our amiable office professor, unfortunately he was given the lower belt when it was clear that he didn’t understand the task given.

The day came to an end with Dotun reminding us of our presentations the next day. The presentation day offered us all an opportunity to review what we learnt the past days and where the strength of each member lies.
I am most grateful to the organization for giving us such a wonderful start for the year, through the training, I was able to get a clear understanding of a grant proposal and what each activity entails. Now is the time for me to define not just long-term goals but also short-term milestones that are both aspirational and achievable within the organization.

Ijeoma Oforka is a Program Officer at Connected Development, with a background in Public Health. She is passionate about advocating for the plights and issues surrounding women and girls health and education. She tweets via @ijoforka

Nigeria’s Economic Recession, The 2017 Budget As The Magic Wand

Nigeria’s Economic Recession, The 2017 Budget As The Magic Wand

Following our works in ensuring transparency, accountability and citizen engagement in governmental spending, I represented Connected Development (CODE) in the public presentation and breakdown of the 2017 budget. This was held on the 19th of December, 2016 at the Conference Hall of the State House, Abuja. The invitation was from the Honourable Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma. The event was a postscript of the 2017 budget presentation to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.

In the event, in which relevant governmental/non-governmental stakeholders were in attendance, Sen. Udoma took about 90 minutes to breakdown/present the lustrated ”Budget of Recovery and Growth.” He stated, “the budget reflects the government’s commitment to restore the economy on the path of sustainable and inclusive growth.” He started with a brief analysis of the performance of the 2016 budget. Highlights from the analysis showed that as at the Q3 of 2016, oil production was at 1.81 mbpd as against the predicted 2.2mbpd on the 2016 budget. The exchange rate was at N305/US$ as against the predicted N197/USD. In addition, GDP growth rate which was predicted at 4.3% was at -2.24%. Inflation which was predicted at 9.81% was at 17.85%. And ultimately, the government has only realized 75% of the 2016 budget revenue. A take home from his analysis is that poor performance of the 2016 budget, hugely contributed to the country’s economic recession and worsening macro-economic indicators.

In the breakdown of the 2017 budget, the Minister commented, ”the budget was designed to expand partnership between public and private sectors, including development capital to leverage and springboard resources for growth.” In sum, the budget intends to focus on infrastructural expansion, establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZ), expansion of agriculture, encouraging the growth of small & medium industries, and providing a social safety net for poor Nigerians. The N7.298 trillion budget has key assumptions such as: oil production at 2.2mbpd, benchmark oil price at US$42.5/b, exchange rate at N305/US$, GDP Growth Rate at 2.5%. The 2017 budget envisages a total revenue of N4.94 trillion, exceeding that of 2016 by 28%. The projected revenue realisation from oil was N1.985 trillion and Non-oil, N1.373 trillion.

The capital expenditure was at N2.24 trillion (30.7%) with ”Ministries” such as Power, Works & Housing, Transportation, Special Intervention Programmes, Defence, Water Resources etc. taking N529 billion, N262 billion, N150 billion, N140 billion, N85 billion respectively.

While there in several initiatives on the 2017 budget, such as the recapitalization of the Banks of Industry and Agriculture by N15 billion, N50 billion for the establishment of SEZs and the benchmark oil price at US$42.5/b (if OPEC keeps on its esplanade of cutting down oil production), there are several key concerns that quickly comes to mind:

1). The problem has always been implementation crisis as well as lack of transparency, accountability and citizen engagement in governmental spending. We call for increased transparency and accountability in the budget’s implementation.

2). Participatory budgetary process in the preparation of the 2017 budget was very poorly implemented especially with respect to involving CSOs and leaders of local communities.

3). The performance of the 2016 budget still remains poor, most of its capital items are still at the contracting stage.

4). No. 3 leads to a key concern about how the government intends to manage the whole kerfuffle of the 2016 spill-over in 2017, with the weak coordination chain we are seeing now.

5). Planning the 2017 Fiscal Year on N305/US$ is quite unrealistic with several FOREX rates out there. The Central Bank should find a way to address the worsening FOREX crisis and harmonize the rates.

6). The 2.2mbpd oil production estimate might not be realized, following the continuing oil pipeline vandalisation in the Niger Delta which the government has not found a sustainable means to address.

7). The N2.2 trillion budgeted capital expenditure is still so nanoscopic to what is needed to stimulate the economy. The government must find a way of reversing the trend of having recurrent expenditure taking over almost 80% of the budget of several sectors.

8). While the government is preaching financial prudence, it’s quite paradoxical that several overhead items of the State House have increments on the average of 250% from their 2016 appropriations.

9). #FollowTheMoney team of CODE urgently await a part release of the performance of the 2016 budget performance, while we continue tracking the implementation of its capital items in rural communities.

Ensuring and Implementing Conflict Prevention and Management Strategies in Nigeria

Ensuring and Implementing Conflict Prevention and Management Strategies in Nigeria

The North Eastern, Niger Delta and Middle Belt regions of Nigeria have been witnessing several conflicts and fatalities in recent times. These include terrorism, militancy and the crisis between herdsmen & their host, respectively. In the light of this, on Monday, 28 November, CODE participated in the Peace and Security Working Group (PSWG) Meeting hosted by the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP). The PSWG is a platform for peace and security analysis, advocacy, coordination and capacity building. The platform is made up of several Civil Society Actors, international donors/agencies, and foreign embassies.

During the meeting, organizations such as Centre for Democracy & Development, NSRP,  Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta etc. gave updates on their current activities in ensuring peace and security in the country. CODE on its part intimated the participants of its peace and security works in two areas: 1). Comparative electoral processes research and activities, so as to promote the use of information technology in electioneering in order to reduce violence during elections. CODE observed the United States Presidential Election and was able to draw lessons from the exercise which could be employed in Nigeria to ensure improved electoral processes and violence reduction. CODE was also asked to make a presentation in the next PSWG meeting in January, 2017 on the observation and experiences regarding this. 2). CODE has a campaign on ensuring transparency and accountability in the implementation of humanitarian funds in the North Eastern (NE) part of the country. In this light, CODE is tracking the governmental implementation of N53 billion provided by international donors for the rehabilitation of the NE zone.

During the meeting, a new name, Peace and Security Network (PSN) was also recommended for PSWG. This is for perfect representation of the mandate of the coordination group. PSN is indeed an important platform for stakeholderial coordination on peace and security activities and strategies to prevent & manage conflicts around the country. Its’ our hope that the platform implements its strategies to ensure political stability in the country so as for a favorable environment for economic activities and Foreign Direct Investment attraction.