An appraisal of participatory monitoring and evaluation in government community development initiatives : a case study of Tana and Athi River Development Authority (TARDA), Kenya
Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation (PME) is an integral part for the success of any government community development initiative as it helps foster a sense of ownership and at the same time promotes meaningful development at grass-root level. The Government of Kenya (GOK), through the Ministry of Regional Development has established Regional Development Authorities (RDA’s) that are mandated to promote development within their areas of jurisdiction by implementing integrated programmes and enhancement of community participation. It is against this backdrop that this research investigation is using Tana and Athi River Development Authority (TARDA) in Kenya as a case study in order to appraise how PME is applied in this process. The people-centred development theory constituted the theoretical grounding of the study, and in addition implementation approaches to PME were discussed in relation to the various project management areas of knowledge. Qualitative methods of research were applied throughout the study in assessing the level of stakeholders’ participation in monitoring and evaluation. A mix of interviews and focus group discussions were utilized. More specifically, individual interviews were conducted with the project beneficiaries/community, TARDA management, project management facilitators, as well as monitoring and evaluation specialists in an attempt to unravel how and to what extent Tana County residents are involved in the monitoring and evaluation process of TARDA projects. Empirical findings gathered from the study were reflected upon through concrete grounded discussions on the contribution of PME in increasing community participation, empowerment and decision-making in various development projects. The research findings also indicated that PME plays a pivotal role in ensuring accountability and transparency of institutions thus creating investor confidence and promoting regional-balanced development. Furthermore, the findings also revealed that an effective PME system gives decision makers an additional public sector management tool, while at the same time building on the capacities of the beneficiaries. Finally, it is proposed that PME should be a standard practice among public sector institutions that embrace PME techniques, also in order to document and share PME experiences for purposes of information generation and future sustainable development.