In spite of the herculean and demanding nature of its work, the budgetary allocation for the National Development Planning Commission is woefully inadequate, when compared to other institutions in the country, which carry out little or no monitoring and evaluation exercise.
A document published by the NDPC in 2011, sighted by The Chronicle, for example, indicated that budgetary allocation for monitoring and evaluation for Parliament in 2009 was GHc 1,883,168; that of the Office of the President stood at GHc 2,301,425 – while the entire budgetary allocation for the National Development Planning Commission amounted to GHc 429, 394 – at 14% representing GHc 60,115.16, reserved for monitoring and evaluation. With a technical staff of 20, only 5 of them are actively involved in monitoring and evaluation activities.
Mr. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, Majority leader of Parliament, who was a Guest Speaker at the National Launch of Evaluation Year (EVAL Year), organized by the NDPC, honestly admitted that nobody in the August House has been tasked with monitoring responsibilities, let alone evaluation.
Regarded a complex undertaking, Statistics, which aids monitoring and evaluation, is a very important endeavour for the growth of the country. Statistics helps in the evaluation of, for example, how the cedi is doing—whether it is falling or rising—and with the paltry allocation of funds for the very institution which figures assists in knowing the actual situation on the ground, makes the process staggering.
Statistics assists in the improvement of a country’s economy and this cannot be underrated. In the case of Ghana, it appears almost as a mirage because records are simply not available for use and implementation. It is in the light of this that the Director-General of the NDPC has called on state institutions to pay particular attention to record keeping to boost the evaluation process and subsequent advancement of these institutions.
Dr. Nii Moi Thompson, during a Media Dialogue in Accra, noted that his personal experience had revealed that record keeping in the country was not in the best of shapes. The actions of retired civil and public servants even compounded the problem of record keeping, with its concomitant effect hampering the overall monitoring and evaluation route of their institutions.
With the benefit of hindsight, Dr. Thompson mentioned that some of them took ”bulk of information document” meant for their institutions away, a move he portrayed as “personalizing information”, making their access and use almost impossible.
For instance, during a research to be undertaken by the NDPC, salary documents of teachers for the year 1995 in a school in the Northern Region could not be traced. It later turned out that a retired headmaster of the school had taken them away. He, however, advised those culpable of this act to put a stop to that immediately.
For government to see evaluation as a key component of development, it is imperative that it allocates adequate resources for it. But in the eyes of Dr. Charles Amoatey, it is not surprising that the process is not given the needed attention and support because “incentives for conducting and using evaluations are shaped by the political economy.”
According to the lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) Business School, evaluation is an expensive venture and that there must be demand for it to trigger its engagement. Due to the fact that it informs the policy of a country, there should always be demand for it, he stated. To better drive home his point, he asserted that: “They provide quantitative and qualitative evidence on impact or contribution to impact, to inform programme and project design and implementation.”
The lecturer further argued that evaluation offered spaces for political discussion on the “objectives of development, leading to reflection on the relevance, sustainability and effectiveness of actions.”
Demand for evaluation, which is best seen as the realization that evaluation is a source of evidence, in a research undertaken by the Centre for Learning, Evaluation, Accuracy and Research (CLEAR) saw Ghana at the bottom of five countries, which means that the country does not take evaluation serious.
The Deputy Director in-Charge of Monitoring and Evaluation at the NDPC, Nana Opare-Djan, said there was a current shortfall in the level of accountability due to lack of evaluation.
He called for a change in the discourse to be able to hold politicians accountable and to create an opportunity for Ghana to promote demand and use of evaluation in policy-making, among government, civil society organizations and parliamentarians.
Nana Opare-Djan said even though evaluation had been acknowledged as a critical aspect of the effective national development process, it was lacking in Ghana’s development policy agenda because it was expensive and also demand-driven.
He said Ghana currently faced the challenge of under-evaluation, with various systems focusing solely on monitoring, which had also affected commitment to funding of evaluation.
He, therefore, urged the Government to make conscious efforts to partner with civil society organisations to complement arrangements such as providing appropriate resources to the NDPC to be able to effectively execute its constitutional mandate of ensuring national development through effective evaluations of state policies and projects.
The National Development Planning Commission urged journalists to intensify media advocacy for more pragmatic evaluation of government policies and programmes to ensure better development outcomes.
Source: The Chronicle
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