How can we foster informed dialogue between governments and citizens which leads to more effective, fair and inclusive policies from which everyone benefits? This toolkit developed by Cafod, Christian Aid and Trócaire is directed towards civil society organisations (CSOs) in Africa. It explores ways of working for change through monitoring government policies.
The toolkit explores three main components of government policy monitoring work: gathering evidence; analysing evidence; and influencing policy decisions. The focus is on the implementation stage of the policy cycle. The toolkit includes key terms and concepts, summaries on important themes, references to other resources, case studies and methods and tools for monitoring government policies. The tools can be selected and customised according to your particular circumstances.
When planning your approach to policy monitoring it is important to consider your perspective, the level of participation you will build into your work and the implications of adopting a team approach. There are some important points to consider when gathering evidence:
- Six broad types of policies which may impact on poverty can be identified: sectoral; macro-economic; institutional; regulatory; national development plans; and global and regional policies.
- You may wish to couple your monitoring activities with the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). It is worth identifying service delivery policies as well as macro-economic, institutional and regulatory policies.
- Policy documents can reveal policy intent, set out measures for implementation or comment on policy performance. Various actions can be taken when relevant and reliable information is inaccessible.
- Stakeholders may include the government, the beneficiaries of policies, those excluded from or harmed by policy, the public, CSOs, the media, the private sector and donors and International Financial Institutions (IFIs). Two options for building networks of stakeholders are considered: a sector-based star network and a monitoring chain.
Evidence should influence those who have the power to change or improve a policy. There are a number of factors to consider when analysing evidence and carrying out advocacy:
- Identify which aspects of a policy are most crucial to monitor and who stands to benefit or lose. State clearly what questions you will ask and answer through your monitoring work.
- Evidence may be both qualitative and quantitative and needs to be representative and legitimate. Indicators may be established or customised. A baseline to measure progress can be established by using existing information or by conducting research.
- Identify spending categories within the budget that relate to the policy you are monitoring. Analyse the priority, adequacy, equity and efficiency of spending.
- Track the influence and impact of development aid agreements on the content of policies and on the government’s accountability.
- Coding evidence gathered from interviews and surveys helps to summarise information, highlight certain features and compare different sets of information.
- Workshops and focus group discussions are useful to understand the experiences, obstacles or issues associated with a programme or policy and to draw attention to general patterns and systemic problems.
- Evidence needs to be translated into a convincing and clear message for advocacy. There are many ways to engage with your target audience. Consider when you have the best chance of influencing decision-makers and what format(s) you will use.