At the 2019 General Assembly of the African Community of Practice Results (AfCoP) in Abidjan, experts and practitioners reflected on what makes “Managing for Development Results” (MfDR) work in the light of different MfDR initiatives piloted in a number of African countries.
Contributed by Oumoul Khayri Ba Tall after a two-day engagement with experts and practitioners at AfCoP General Assembly, she sought to highlight key aspects that could make managing for development results work in Africa regardless of country’s situation. #AfCOP19
Managing results takes collaboration
In any given attempt of MfDR, for results to happen, politicians, planners and beneficiaries need to work collaboratively. Political will is the key connector in achieving development results. Political will became action-oriented, consulted broadly, embraced development principles and ensured development results are for the interest of the nation.
National Development Plans (NDPs) are easily translated into results when leaders adhere to a results-based culture, which includes a common vision shared by all stakeholders, the availability of resources and required capacity, and the willingness to measure progress to identify what is helping or hindering results from happening. Stakeholders’ participation and “buy-in” were also commonly recognized as crucial elements to manage and achieve development results. “Anything for us without us is certainly against us” is an inspiring quotation that supports stakeholder and citizen engagement. Indeed, if development results are intended to benefit people, then all groups at all levels – especially intended beneficiaries – must be involved.
Experience shows that, when people realize that development plans are for them, they will do everything in their power to make results happen. In managing for development results, stakeholder buy-in goes beyond involving citizens in the decision-making process to actually having their voices influence what development results are for and setting development goals for Africans. One of the participants at the 2019 General Assembly cited the example of a question normally asked when setting national priorities: which should come first “food on the table” or “climate change”? Priorities are only meaningful if they articulate and satisfy the needs of citizens.
Systems are critical for MfDR
Accountability, financial and monitoring systems are the requirements in processing results and ensuring all actors are active in managing them. Working together means each one has a responsibility and must willingly share power. Accountability mechanisms are critical to managing for development results because they allow all actors to play their roles and abide to agreed principles. For any effective partnership for development to achieve results, transparent communication is essential.
Everyone involved must be informed about the planned activities, so that each one can trust and support the cause. In managing for development results, actions must be visible and let the evidence stemming out of these actions speak for themselves. Well-planned development results will not happen without resources. In all cases where MfDR worked effectively, there was a clear political commitment to identify domestic resources before looking for external ones; it is also essential for the budget and national development plans to be aligned. Furthermore, an awareness program is necessary to educate development actors and citizens alike on the budgetary process and how the development agenda is featured in it. Benin and Senegal provide good examples of creating public interest and budgetary dialogue, by communicating their national budgets in a language and format that lay-citizens can understand.
Central to implementing effective development are mechanisms to monitor and evaluate results. As pointed out in the discussions, a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system is only useful when it is thoughtfully integrated into the development initiative from the beginning of the planning process, not at the end. It was also strongly argued that there is a dire need to reflect on current M&E systems and to revise them to reflect African values and systems.
Discussions around these and other related topics are an asset for AfCoP, especially in the transition phase of taking the MfDR to the next level by working with countries to strengthen and institutionalize development results systems and aligning national development plans to Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union Agenda 2063 for African People.