Monitoring and Evaluation of Capacity and Capacity Development (ECDPM Discussion Paper 58B)
Monitoring and Evaluation of Capacity and Capacity Development
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Click below to download the presentation presented at the DAC in November 2005
Watson, D. 2005. M&E of capacity and capacity development. presentation.
This paper is one of the Theme Papers emerging from the ECDPM Study on Capacity, Performance and Change. It has been prepared by David Watson, one of the consultant authors of several cases in the study. It reviews the donor and practitioner literature, and innovations in M&E aspects of public sector and NGO capacity and capacity building in developing countries from both results-based management (RBM) and systems thinking perspectives. It synthesises evidence from most of the cases prepared to date, and relates this evidence to the literature. It then draws conclusions and raises questions.
The conclusions are challenging – especially for donors and MDBs. In spite of large volumes of resources devoted to public sector capacity building over several decades, results have been disappointing. There is no generally-accepted definition of ‘capacity’. The field is not a well-defined area of development practice. There are clearly difficult institutional and political context factors at work in the public sector of developing countries. Recent studies also indicate significant capacity constraints within development agencies in managing, motivating and resourcing their M&E function, particularly for capacity building. These agencies tend to seek control more than they succeed in learning. The paper acknowledges however that such formal RBM approaches to programme design and performance monitoring have a role to play, under well-defined conditions. The costs of M and E are high but generally ignored.
On a more positive note, several of the ECDPM case studies show encouraging results with organisations learning lessons from their own experience and modifying their approaches to their own capacity building accordingly. This is in keeping with approaches to ‘systems thinking’.
Accountability is an important driver in both systems thinking and RBM approaches. Flexible assistance modalities and informal monitoring mechanisms supportive of ‘endogenous’ accountability mechanisms seem to be more effective in encouraging better delivery performance and ‘ownership’ than formal control-oriented monitoring mechanisms serving ‘exogenous’ accountability. The former include voice from citizens/users to policy-makers and politicians; their compacts/contracts with service providers, and demand pressure on providers from public service users. The cases and the literature reviewed suggest that approaches which encourage performance and stakeholders’ participation, interaction, self-assessment and reflection tend to stimulate enhanced capacities to deliver, to innovate and adapt.