A framework for success: ensuring effective monitoring and evaluation of social safety net programmes
At last week’s international conference on social protection in Arusha, Tanzania, OPM presented a new conceptual framework on how to enhance sustainability of safety net programmes through the design of effective monitoring and evaluation systems.
Safety net programmes can form an important part of a country’s wider social protection strategy, acting as a buffer for the most vulnerable members of society and protecting them against a slide into extreme poverty. Ensuring the sustained impact of these programmes however, depends in a large part on their effective monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and the feeding back of accurate, timely information to improve programme design and implementation.
The conference, organised by the Government of Tanzania, UNICEF and the ILO, and attended by over 150 delegates, provided an opportunity for policy-makers, researchers and government officials to share knowledge and experiences around social protection systems - specifically, the next phase of Tanzania’s flagship system, the Productive Social Safety Net (PSSN) Programme.
OPM’s social protection team presented on the challenges of setting up comprehensive M&E systems for social safety nets, highlighting the necessity of moving away from the ‘impact evaluation trap’ that sees M&E treated as a theoretical box-ticking exercise rather than a useful programme improvement tool. Drawing on experiences from four different country settings (Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique and Moldova), the team outlined a conceptual framework for an effective M&E system.
The team’s work showed that, to be ‘fit-for-purpose’ – essentially to provide systematic and continuous information for internal improvement and external accountability – an M&E system needs to incorporate both supply- and demand-side data considerations. For example, on the supply-side, in order to be relevant and support the accurate measurement of impact, monitoring indicators need to reflect the original objectives of the programme and account for the information needs of different stakeholders.
On the demand-side, the importance of empowering actors at all levels should not be overlooked – at the macro-level, governments need to help ensure a strong, enabling, performance-orientated policy environment while at the micro-level, individuals involved in implementing the programme are only likely to cooperate if they understand the usefulness of effective M&E and consider it as learning tool rather than a means of judging their work.
Next steps in Tanzania
As well as acting as a useful reference point for practitioners in the field of social safety nets, OPM’s research – together with other evidence presented at the conference – will contribute to the development of Tanzania and the region’s wider social protection strategy.