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Opinion & Analysis

Monitoring and evaluation can help spur growth

The growth of Kenya’s economy has brought a lot of hope to the common man. It is touted as among the most promising in Africa.

Key contributory factors include: the 2014 rebasing of the economy to low middle-income status, a transformative Constitution, devolution and an empowered human resource base.

On the other hand, however, there is sometimes despair in equal measure, especially in relation to the rising youth unemployment and corruption.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have ushered in the Post-2015 global agenda. Its principle of “No one left behind” is well aligned to our Vision 2030 goals and devolution agenda.

Towards that is the acknowledgement that taking national development to the next level requires a “no business as usual” approach in the way it is executed.

It may include stepping up efforts towards a more national evidence culture and practice. Specifically, through Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) to spur data-driven growth.

M&E has potential for better informed evidenced-based policy/decision making and implementation of government policies, programmes and projects.

To track the implementation and provide feedback on the Vision 2030, the National Integrated and Monitoring System (NIMES) operationalised by the Monitoring and Evaluation Department (MED), Ministry of Devolution and Planning was established in 2004.

It has since been nurtured through a multi-stakeholder approach. The Evaluation Society of Kenya (ESK), among others, is one of its partners.

Despite these, M&E has not reached its full potential. It is not well understood and is widely viewed as an “Enemy/Police” coming to investigate us. Rather, than a management

“Friend” with the potential to assist towards better development execution and outcomes for the public good. Compounding these are still weak individual and institutional capacities.

The gaps between the potential value of M&E and its current capacities and acceptance, challenge us as ESK to speak out more about it and its potential benefits.

We note e.g. that more awareness, demystification of its ‘fear” and strengthening of institutional and individual capacities are prerequisites to its effectiveness.

Also, together with our partners the UN Women-led EvalPartners’ Global Movement and the African Evaluation Association (AFREA), we know that M&E is not simply a value-neutral management tool.

Accordingly, we promote evaluation processes and criteria grounded in values of social and gender equality as well as shared principles of partnership, innovation and inclusivity.

These values are underscored in the spirit and letter of the Kenya Constitution, SDGs and Devolution agendas.

Going forward, more concerted multi-stakeholder and multi-faceted efforts including rallying around the NIMES are needed. Essentially, more political awareness and goodwill (including as champions) as well as media and public support.

Mutua is the founder and chair of Evaluation Society of Kenya.

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