Monitoring is a continuous function that uses the systematic collection of data on specified indicators to provide management and the main stakeholders of an on-going development intervention with indications of the extent of progress, early indicators of problems that need to be corrected and achievement of objectives and progress in the use of allocated funds. It usually reports on actual performance against what was expected. Evaluation is a time-bound and periodic exercise that seeks to provide credible and useful information to answer specific questions to guide decision making by staff, managers and policy makers. The aim is to determine the relevance and fulfilment of objectives, development efficiency, effectiveness, impact, and sustainability (Policy Framework for the Government-Wide Monitoring and Evaluation framework).
An evaluation should provide information that is credible and useful, enabling the incorporation of lessons learned into the decision making process of both recipients and donors. Monitoring gives information on where a policy, program, or project is at any given time relative to respective targets and outcomes. Evaluation gives evidence of why targets and outcomes are or are not being achieved. Evaluation is a complement to monitoring in that when a monitoring system sends signals that the efforts are going off track (for example, that the target population is not making use of the services, that costs are accelerating, that there is real resistance to adopting an innovation, and so forth), then good evaluative information can help clarify the realities and trends noted with the monitoring system.
2. Monitoring and Evaluation System.
A monitoring and evaluation system is a set of organisational structures, management processes, standards, strategies, plans, indicators, information systems, reporting lines and accountability relationships which enables national and provincial departments, municipalities and other institutions to discharge their Monitoring and Evaluation functions effectively. In addition to these formal managerial elements are the organisational culture, capacity and other enabling conditions which will determine whether the feedback from the M&E function influence the organisation’s decision-making, learning and service delivery. The Government-wide Monitoring and Evaluation Framework seeks to embed a management system within public sector organisations which articulates with other internal management systems such as planning, budgeting and reporting systems. (Policy Framework for the Government-Wide Monitoring and Evaluation framework).
Monitoring can be done at the project, program, or policy levels. For example, in looking at infant health, one could monitor the project level by monitoring the awareness of good prenatal care in six targeted villages. At the program level, one could monitor to ensure that information on prenatal care is being targeted to pregnant women in a whole region of the country. Evaluation, like monitoring, may be conducted at the project, program, or policy level. To take an example of privatizing water systems, a project evaluation might involve the assessment of the improvement in water fee collection rates in two provinces. At the program level, one might consider assessing the fiscal management of the government’s systems, while at the policy level; one might evaluate different model approaches to privatizing public water supplies.
Monitoring and Evaluation can also be conducted at local, regional, and national levels of government. It should also be noted that a functioning Monitoring and evaluation system provides continuous flow of information that is useful both internally and externally. Information from the monitoring and evaluation system is used as a crucial management tool for the public sector manager in achieving results and meeting specific targets. Information on progress, problems, and performance...