How relevant is M and E to post-COVID-19 economic recovery?
Essentially, M&E is a systems tool for promoting growth and development. It is a reminder that activities are not just linked but they must also engage and contribute to outcomes on the medium-term and ultimately to impact the long-term.For instance, in measuring household poverty, there may be considerations for the level of education, access to livelihood assets, quality of nutrition, and healthcare as well as, other related factors. In this regard, developing a framework that helps to identify the relationships between the level of education, income, and nutritional intakes may provide profitable options for child health. Such frameworks help to identify gaps and prioritize concerns.Meanwhile, in the face of a pandemic, the weakness of infrastructure and services in countries across the world shows increasing vulnerability to COVID-19 disruptions. Alternatively, this would have been avoidable if a robust M&E System had existed across the globe. This would have enabled proactive and commensurate responses to the challenges associated with testing, contact tracing, and isolation...The flaws in the results management systems underscore the importance of data management and information protection and how these relate to tracking the gaps between funding and COVID-19 response at governmental and organizational levels. More so, with the unintended economic consequences of containment measures, countries’ economic outlook becomes a potential performance indicator of interest to monitors. In this regard, more focused attention may be required to respond to the shocks associated with the fallout in food production, supply/value chains, foreign financing, fiscal deficits, etc particularly, in the most hurting economies.Accordingly, as demand and competition for financial resources increase post-COVID-19, requirements for the utilization of scarce resources will become stringent, making the use of M&E tools inevitable. Hopefully, commitment to transparency and accountability through M&E will engender viable social protection strategies that will align the size and utilization of funds to requirements and objectives.While M&E efforts during COVID-19 may have been hampered, due to risks associated with the spread of the virus, the emergence of technology as an essential service may have heightened the requirements for a viable M&E system that promotes efficient planning, robust information and responsible digital behavior useful for the management of foreseeable pandemics.As lessons from the impact of COVID-19 suggest, the spread of the virus has an exacerbating effect on existing weakness with attendant consequences of economic drawbacks resulting from mitigation measures of containment. Therefore, to ensure full recovery and maintain appropriate protection against future pandemics, creating a sustainable path to tracking, reviewing, and reporting performance across sectors is now an absolute choice. On the economic front, a robust M&E system would be required even for the private sector to build resilience and set priorities. Post COVID-19 should provide opportunities for (i) a new theory of change on the management of pandemics – this will reinforce ongoing reviews of risks management plans by governments across the world (ii) probing the choices made during the pandemic – for instance, it will be interesting to know; Why some countries adopted a full lockdown approach and others, the herd's immunity? Why some countries recorded more casualty than others? Why Sub-Saharan Africa is unable to accommodate its informal sector in recovery processes? Why pandemic further deepened gender inequality? Etc. It will be a time of several step backs. Beyond looking back, M&E should also promote forward-looking strategies, creating opportunities for participatory and utilization-focused data gathering.In conclusion, a viable monitoring and evaluation system is an important process for providing information that can help to inform decisions, improve performance, and achieve designed results. Foluke Ademokun