Monitoring and evaluation is an inherent tool in planning and plan (programme, project, policy) implementation. Monitoring according to Merriam-Webster is used to “warn and instruct,” evaluation is used “to judge the value or condition of something in a careful and thoughtful way.”
The world bank defined monitoring as “the continuous assessment of project implementation in relation to agreed schedules and use of inputs, infrastructure and services by project beneficiaries,” and evaluation as “periodic assessment of relevance, performance, efficiency and impact (both expected and unexpected) of the project in relation to stated objectives”. (World Bank 1989). M&E is the final stage of the planning process but is a feedback mechanism which helps in initiating the next planning phase. Monitoring and evaluation is part of everyday programme management and is critical to the success of implemented programme.
Effective M&E systems are important to enable project management to know whether implementation is going as planned, and to provide information needed to adjust implementation plans needed to achieve desired results. According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP, 2009), Monitoring and Evaluation can help organizations to extract relevant information from past and ongoing activities that can be used as the basis for modification of programs and projects, reorientation and future planning. “Without effective planning, monitoring and evaluation, it would be impossible to judge if work is going in the right direction, whether progress and success can be claimed, and how future efforts might be improved” (UNDP, 2009, p.5).
Most institutions in Ghana by nature of practice do M&E and come out with M&E report that was used in obtaining data on the various activities that were done. The purpose of this data gathered is to feed into future projects to ensure that challenges that occurred in the previous projects are not repeated. But what most institution does is that after all these data are gathered, they are kept on shelves as institutional data without being implemented.
In several parts of the world, school meals have been used as an effective mechanism for addressing child nutrition, educational enrolment and retention and hygiene issues. They have also effectively provided income-generation, employment creation and economic integration benefits to communities they have been implemented.
The Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) was initiated in 2005 as a social protection intervention in the context of the Comprehensive Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) pillar III and in response to the first and second Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s). The aim of the GSFP is to provide one hot nutritious meal to kindergarten and primary school children in poor communities. The School Feeding Programme(SFP) like the other national social protection flagship provides an opportunity to pursue Ghana’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 1 which seeks to end poverty in all its forms everywhere and Goal 2, which aims at ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition while promoting sustaining agriculture fall within this purview.
Goal 4 seeks to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education opportunities is very important as it seeks to enhance access of girls and boys to quality early childhood development and ensure their access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round. The Government of Ghana, the various MMDA’s and NGO’s have invested a lot of resources into the programme since its initiation and a lot of positive feedbacks has been received after its implementation for about two decades now such as increasing school enrollment, retention and nutrients issues.
Notwithstanding all these benefits, there still remains some challenges which are being faced by the National School Feeding Programme Secretariat which is the main body in charge of the affairs of the programme and one of the challenges they face is the monitoring and evaluation of the programme. Thus, this study will help in identifying the monitoring and evaluation systems of the school feeding programme and how they are used by the Wa West District in their monitoring and evaluation activities in the school feeding program.
In spite of the fact that M&E is recognized as an essential strategy for achieving effective and successful implementation of development interventions by many agencies and the government, various development agents place different degrees of importance on it. According to the World Bank (2000), lack of awareness and management demand for M&E data is an overriding problem that inhibits development of M&E systems. In addition, institutions and levels of government, including district assemblies are confronted with several challenges in designing and carrying out M&E activities. This limits their efforts and consequently results in ineffective monitoring and evaluation of projects and programmes leading to low levels of development.
According to Muzinda (2007), lack of adequate expertise, inadequacy of funds, inaccurate baseline data, have gone a long way to affect the effectiveness of devised M&E systems thereby rendering them ineffective. Woodhill (as cited in Zerfu & Kebede, 2013) also added that dissatisfaction is common in the way M&E information is gathered, processed, analysed, and used.
Monitoring and evaluation are always performed on projects and programmes that aim for the general well-being of the people. In the case of implementation of the school feeding programme, little is known about the status of monitoring and evaluation of the programme in the Wa West District. That is as to whether monitoring and evaluation are really done following the laid down processes and mechanisms or not.
A research conducted by the Centrist Policy International indicates that there is a weak monitoring and evaluation policy whereas other mechanisms are not followed. This has therefore motivated me to conduct a study to delve into the issues of the monitoring and evaluation of the school feeding programme as to why there is a weak monitoring and evaluation if they are to follow the laid down mechanism and process involved in the M&E.