The Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Professor George Gyan-Baffour, has underscored the need for an effective monitoring and evaluation (M&E) regime to serve as a corrective mechanism to guide future actions.
He said an effective M&E regime would ensure that there was continuous improvement in public policy formulation and implementation.
"This will ensure that the objective performance standards are equalised with actual observed performance to minimise deviation, enhance value for money and achieve the realisation of the desired national development effort," he said.
Prof. Gyan-Baffour was speaking at the maiden development impact summit of Development Impact West Africa (DIWA) at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) in Accra yesterday[Jun.
The two-day summit, which has brought together researchers and policy analysts, is an initiative to support West African governments to use credible and transparent evidence to inform policy decisions.
It is being held on the theme: "Research to policy translation in West Africa".
A number of research findings that evaluate various government policies and initiatives will be presented at the summit.
DIWA is a research society hosted by GIMPA, implemented in partnership with the Centre for Effective Global Action. It was funded by The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation.
The summit is expected to evaluate some government flagship programmes, such as the impact of the One Village, One Dam initiative, the National Service Scheme, the free senior high school policy on students’ academic performance, among others.
Prof. Gyan-Baffour said a major constraint on the development challenge of member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had been the weak M&E standards in the region.
"Even though M&E is often discussed in the context of development projects and programmes, I have personally observed that monitoring and evaluation have implications for all levels of society; however, public sector evaluations have been very weak," he said.
He said impact evaluation activities would help highlight pertinent issues of national and regional significance.
“All development policy frameworks must be evidence-based and M&E experts gathered here must, therefore, explore how African policymakers in particular and development practitioners in general can apply interventions to promote the use of evidence to improve development outcomes and impacts," he said.
A lecturer at GIMPA, Dr Richard Boso, who made a presentation on the impact evaluation of MASLOC on poverty reduction, said the study revealed that people who had access to loans from the institution were more likely to stay in business in times of crisis than those who did not.
"When I compared those who got the loans to those who did not get the loans, I saw that the people who got the loans were more likely to stay in business during the COVID-19 period than those who did not," he said.
He said the lives of beneficiaries had improved over the years, although there was the stress of the pandemic.
The Rector of GIMPA, Professor Samuel Bonsu, commended the stakeholders for putting together the summit to build local research and help inform government policies and decisions.
He stressed the need for enough people and institutions to be mobilised to give ample opportunities to evaluate flagship programmes of the country and West Africa at large.
He called on the government and other stakeholders to support and invest in the activities of institutions to bridge the gap between university research and policy making.