Country Profile: This section provides an overview of the economic and social reality in the target country and considers some key economic and social indicators.
What is MESA?
The Monitoring and Evaluation Systems Analysis (MESA) tool is an important part of GEI’s integrated systems-based approach to supporting developing countries on their journey to strengthen monitoring, evaluation and evidence use. The MESA is a diagnostic tool that guides country stakeholders (e.g., government entities, evaluation professionals, civil society) in gathering, structuring and analyzing information on the current capacity of their country’s M&E ecosystem. It helps identify what is working well and what needs to be improved, informing capacity-development strategies meant to strengthen the economic, political, and social context that enables M&E to flourish.
A MESA is not an end in itself, but rather a means to gather, structure, and analyze information to inform and shape improvements to a country’s M&E systems. While there are many ways to carry out such a diagnostic, the GEI MESA adopts a mixed-method approach, using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. It is comprehensive, but flexible – able to be adapted to local contexts, needs and interests. The MESA can be used with a view to analyzing the entire M&E ecosystem or only specific elements; it can be customized not only for countries, but also for subnational units or line ministries. The MESA tool is designed to lead to a report that can serve as a guide for preparing a capacity development strategy. It can also be used as a baseline of the country’s M&E situation, against which progress can be measured over time.
How does MESA work?
To better understand the current M&E situation and possibilities for improvement, it is important to have essential background information on the country, such as socioeconomic variables, the government structure, and the political and cultural environment. It is also important, from the start, to connect these elements with the current levels of interest in M&E and motivation for strengthening the country’s M&E system.
Structure of Government & Political Economy: This section helps the user get a general picture of the way the government is structured – including the executive and legislative arms – informing how M&E systems might be structured and operated. It is also helps to identify the role of a center-of-government agency or entity that might play a key role in driving M&E – such as the presidency or finance ministry.
Organizational Culture: Using M&E for accountability, learning and improvement may require a shift in mindset. It is important to understand the norms and culture around M&E, in order to design appropriate solutions, secure champions or identify government structures that may drive M&E.
Level of Interest in M&E: Governments and people in government change all the time. It is possible that the reasons for starting an M&E system may be different from previous reasons. It is therefore essential to understand the technical and political reasons for the country’s current levels of interest (or lack of) for M&E.
National M&E Systems
1. Policy, Planning & Budgeting
This sections looks at budgeting and planning, which play an important role in the use of M&E. There is usually a legal basis for most planning and budgeting, but often not when it comes to M&E. Exceptions might be for line-ministry responsibilities and related legislation. For example, a health ministry may be bound by legislation that requires it to undertake monitoring in the sector. While evaluations might be developed in countries, having a binding law, regulations or policies provides a strong institutional base for the M&E system. It can also provide the M&E champion, or leading government entity, with a stronger basis for requiring sector ministries to provide monitoring reports or to undertake evaluations. It also means that the system is likely to be more sustainable and less susceptible to political or administrative transitions and flux.
2. Monitoring & Reporting
This section explores monitoring and reporting systems at the national level. While this should explore formal systems, it should also look at informal systems (for example, how the ruling party is engaged), and distinguish systems in theory from what is happening in practice. In some cases, the regional dimension may be important; for example, in the context of small countries belonging to regional economic unions. Where this is the case, this could be included as part of a more in-depth enquiry.
This section explores evaluation systems and practices at the national level - one of the most important parts of the MESA - as it explores the center of the evaluation system and its main components. As with monitoring and reporting, it will be important to investigate both formal and informal systems, as well as distinguish systems in theory from what is happening in practice. This section also focuses on the identification of the main stakeholders of the evaluation system within government, their roles and how they interact with each other. In some cases, where there are strong regional links, it may be important to highlight practices at the regional level.