Monitoring and evaluation is key to reach the millennium development goals and in reducing poverty. Without adequate and accurate information on relevant benchmarks, targeting resources, improving services and social programs and identifying inefficiencies and ineffective expenditures is not possible. It allows us to determine a baseline, where we are and provides a goal where we want to go, as well as allowing mid-course corrections, whether in the re-design of programs or, more importantly, in the change of practices. The practice of monitoring and evaluating has made great progress in the past decade. Evaluation nowadays not only takes place in the Bank’s work but also around the world in governments assessing how in the longer term organizations are performing and government expenditures impact the population. It has moved from understanding the issues of monitoring and evaluation to a process where we can exchange those ideas within a particular country project or program. At the Shanghai Global Learning Conference, one of the key features identified in achieving poverty reduction was inclusion of monitoring evaluation in program or project management and extension of the traditional monitoring and evaluation to the budget cycle.
What the World Bank is doing in this area
The World Bank is engaging in both aspects of M&E, evaluation of own projects and programs, as well as assisting its clients in developing and implementing M&E methodologies in all government areas. The Bank makes a great effort to include M&E in all operational areas and to conduct self-evaluations of their work. The Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) evaluates these self-evaluations and sets standards for quality control. Their role within the Bank, and as the largest evaluation unit in the donor community, allows it to identify regional and global trends in the emphasis given to the strengthening of government monitoring and evaluation systems. On the IEG’s initiative, support for country efforts to strengthen their monitoring and evaluation systems was included in the core activities of the Bank. The Bank is currently working with over 30 governments, including seven in Latin America and the Caribbean, to help in strengthening their M&E systems through loans and grants, often with significant input from Public Sector Management units and IEG itself.
What the LAC region is doing in this area
Many governments in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region have gained an increased understanding of the value of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) to help both governments and donors alike better understand what public investments and interventions work well, which do not, and the reasons why. Monitoring and evaluating the performance of public programs and institutions can help increase their effectiveness, providing more accountability and transparency in how public monies are used, informing the budgetary process and the allocation of public resources, and assessing their effectiveness in attaining their desired objectives such as improving welfare, reducing poverty or enhancing the equality of opportunities.
Some countries stress a system of performance indicators, while others focus on carrying out evaluations (program reviews or rigorous impact evaluations). And while some countries have created a whole-of-government approach driven by finance or planning ministries, others are more focused on sector M&E systems. One key characteristic of most of the systems that are now at different stages of implementation in LAC, is that they reflect country-led ― rather than donor-driven ― efforts to institutionalize M&E.
To further promote the institutionalization of M&E systems, the World Bank, in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), organized a regional conference on June 6-7, 2005 to take stock of the lessons learned. The participants represented finance and sector ministries from eleven countries, as well as experts from academia, bilateral donor agencies, consulting firms, and various sectors of the host institutions. Experiences from five countries, namely Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil and Peru, were shared during the conference, and served as inputs to determine lessons learned in institutionalizing systems of monitoring and evaluation.
The conference also served as a springboard to launch a regional network of policymakers and M&E practitioners to allow such national experiences to be shared much more widely and systematically throughout the LAC region. The regional network will be focused on the institutionalization of M&E through South-South learning throughout the region. The network will be open and flexible, attracting decision-makers, practitioners, experts in and outside the government; high-level officials from sector ministries, finance ministries, and planning departments; parliamentarians and their advisors; academics; consultants and experts; multilateral organizations and interested bilateral donors.
Publications: Proceedings of the Conference (en español)