Partnering for success: a regional monitoring system for social equity and inclusive development

A multistakeholder partnership created a regional indicators-based monitoring system to track pro-poor health policy change across the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a low-income region beset by socio-economic costs of a high disease burden. This stimulated SADC’s Result-Based Regional Monitoring and Evaluation initiative. Extending to all SADC priority areas, Results-Based Monitoring and Evaluation (RBME) enables real-time tracking of regional performance, documentation of results at country level and the facilitation of evidence-based decision-making and learning

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Innovation Overview

The innovation is a regional indicators-based monitoring and evaluation system for SADC. The need for a robust system was identified by SADC Secretariat in 2013/14, to extend its programme of work on poverty and ill-health and to help realise collective goals in the area of health in support of regional economic prosperity. The innovation responded to 3 drivers:

1. Significant socio-economic costs of the high disease burden in the SADC region plus common challenges to the region’s health systems and effective service delivery;
2. Understanding that international cooperation on a regional scale can enable collective responses to context-specific challenges beyond the scope of any one country to address unilaterally;
3. Evidenced support for region-wide social indicators-based monitoring.

The use of social indicators in regional monitoring captures ‘positive’ regional policies on health, social protection and human development that economic indicators miss. The SDGs focuses attention on the need for robust regional monitoring to track and evaluate resource use and the quality of change in ways that mobilise regional actors, institutions and partnerships.

The regional monitoring system aims to: support SADC countries and the SADC secretariat to identify achievements of and gaps in their socio-economic development programs; strengthen links between the regional body and member countries, facilitating integrated policy change; identify better mechanisms for data sharing and M&E of regional development programs; and enhance efforts to hold political actors to account for realising regional commitments to improve socio-economic outcomes.

The course of action was initiated through an international partnership between SADC Secretariat and The Open University (UK) in 2014-2015. A multistakeholder partnership forum involving 17 stakeholders from SADC secretariat, academia, civil society and government co-created the SADC-PRARI (Poverty Reduction and Regional Integration)  Toolkit capable of measuring pro-poor health policy success and change. The strengths of the partnership, its working methods, and outcomes were seen in consensus within the partnership that: the major health issues prioritised within the SADC regional health agenda were those that most significantly affected those living in poverty; full implementation of extant SADC regional health policies had the potential to improve access to health services and medicines by disadvantaged majorities in the countries of the region; there was considerable unrealised scope to enhance the positive human development impacts of SADC regional initiatives, especially in relation to maternal and child health, effective health service policy implementation and health systems-strengthening; and there was a real potential to significantly strengthen regional capacity to improve health outcomes. The partnership favoured a social indicators-based monitoring system with input, process, output and outcome indicators (

In 2015 the SADC Secretariat initiated the Result-Based Regional Monitoring and Evaluation initiative (RBME). RBME scales up the essential features of the SADC-PRARI Toolkit, responding to the refreshed imperatives of SADC’s revised regional indicative strategic development plan (R-RISDP) (2016-2020). R-RISDP galvanised SADC member states redouble their efforts for a concerted region-wide strategy for integrated socio-economic development. RBME is directly related to the region’s results framework of the R-RISDP which is the main strategic plan for the SADC region: indicators are directly related to the R-RISDP and align with the annual operational plans coordinated at the Secretariat.

RBME was developed in line with the SADC-PRARI indicators-based planning and monitoring approach, and centrally concentrates on monitoring results at outputs, intermediary and final outcomes levels. The RBME initiative includes health and poverty, the focus of the SADC-PRARI Toolkit, but has wider scope and sector coverage. RBME's scope covers output-level monitoring of the R-RISDP, financial performance reporting, and regional instrument implementation monitoring. Its sectoral coverage includes poverty reduction and health, also extending to gender equality, social and human development, science, technology and innovation, industrial development and market integration; infrastructure support; and agriculture and food security.

RBME enables real-time tracking of performance, documentation of results at national level and evidence-based decision-making and learning, and thus greater accountability, nationally and regionally. The RBME is in its roll-out stage across the region's member states, and undergoes periodic audit and evaluation to identify challenges and responses to them. There is significant scope for scaling up and replication, aided by lesson-sharing on evidence-based policy making systems which is a focus of African Union architecture.

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Year: 2017
Level of government: Other


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