An improvement noted from the first cycle of CBM is that some Community Partners were able to establish better working relationships with the management and staff of the local facilities, particularly in the case of SASSA.
Some Community Partners also reported changes in staff attitude, and recorded improvements at a local facility. In some areas, there were reports of improvements contributing to better service delivery: SASSA officials wearing name tags, staff adhering to the working hours, and additional staff appointed to ease the workload.
The difficulties of rural beneficiaries accessing services has been addressed by the increase of satellite grant application sites, new born registrations at hospitals, and improved service delivery by rural outreach service.
It became apparent that dialogue as a methodology works well to surface and triangulate the service delivery issues generated during the survey and monitoring phase. It also establishes common ground and service delivery priorities between the local residents and government officials.
Although an Improvement Committee is established to track progress and ensure delivery, the challenge is often the actual implementation.
Service delivery challenges as a result of systemic, policy or legislative issues; budgets; and outsourced contracts that facilitate unlawful and immoral debit deductions, often reside with officials higher up in government bureaucracy at a national and/or a provincial level. Advocacy strategies and action then kicks in to assert pressure to ensure delivery, either led by the Black Sash in collaboration with the Community Partners(CP's) and/or alliances of civil society organisations.
The 'Expanding the Presidency’s community based performance monitoring project to improve service delivery in South Africa’ project saw massive improvements in the use of technology, which led to faster collection of imformation. The IT platform was expanded to include more CPs and it was automated. In an almost seamless fashion new CPs were registered and new monitoring sites were added. Support from OpenUp (previously Code4sa) to Sash staff and CP monitors ensured data gathering was conducted as planned and results were produced early in February, in time for Dialogue preparations scheduled for February 2017. The automation of the IT platform has, to a large degree, limited the mistakes that were picked up in the previous MAVC project reports. Summary reports were able to be produced both provincially and nationally.
CPs found it relatively easy to navigate the surveys on the platform, capture the data and load it onto the platform. Some of the CPs used their smart phones to gain access to the platform and load the data. All the CPs were assigned email addresses and those with working Tablets used them for organisational email communication. WhatsApp groups were used for easy communication amongst CPs and with BS to share learnings, meeting alerts and useful information about SASSA.
The project implemented was effective and efficient with the majority of targets being realized within programme and budget. The methodology of using CBOs is extremely effective and empowering and starts to give the sector a meaningful role in society. It could also be the basis for enabling improved funding into the sector.