Using systems thinking to conceptually link the monitoring and evaluation function within development interventions and public policy
The monitoring and evaluation function provides for accountability and to some extent transparency and, therefore, governance. However, this function can only be effective if it is conceptually linked within development interventions and public policy. There is an explicit discussion of the middle-third tier (how to monitor and evaluate) as well as the bottom-third tier (data collection and storage, data processing and analysis, reporting results and findings, integrating results and findings into planning and implementation as well as overall decision making). Unfortunately, the top-third tier that links monitoring and evaluation within development interventions (the what) and public policy (the how) is implicit, if present. The discussions often point out that monitoring and evaluation is a management and decision-making tool but they omit or fail to link it to development interventions and public policy, leadership and governance. In this paper, we interrogate literature from a systems thinking perspective to derive a model that conceptually links the monitoring and evaluation function within development interventions and public policy. In doing so, we point out and link the five components (cultural, political, economic, social and environmental) and two processes (imminent and immanent) of development. Similarly, we point out and link the five components (leadership, governance, political-economy, institutional arrangements and organisation arrangements) and three processes (research, decision-making and the public policy cycle) of public policy. It is in the latter that we point out, situate and link the monitoring and evaluation function. We envisage that the proposed model may be useful in reconfiguring institutional and organisational arrangements to foster effective monitoring and evaluation of development interventions.