The Black Sash Community Monitoring and Advocacy Project (CMAP), run in partnership with the Social Change Assistance Trust (SCAT) has come to the end of a successful run.
The Community Monitoring and Advocacy Project (CMAP) was implemented by civil society organisations, (CSOs) based within communities, who were the drivers of monitoring and advocacy in their own contexts. Monitoring was conducted by dedicated community volunteers who were nominated and supported by these organisations and trained and mentored for the CMAP by the Black Sash and our partner, SCAT.
The government agencies and departments that were identified for monitoring were the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), Department of Health (DoH), Department of Home Affairs (DoHA) and municipalities. Interview questionnaires were developed to assess their compliance with their own norms and standards, as well as with the principles of administrative justice.
CMAP monitors wore branded bibs which enabled a strong statement of community vigilance and transparency at service points. Monitors:
- Interviewed beneficiaries and officials at service delivery sites, and made observations regarding basic services at their homes or elsewhere in the community,
- Documented interviews and observations using structured questionnaires,
- Posted completed questionnaires in self-addressed envelopes to the Black Sash National Office.
The questionnaire data was captured and analysed by the Black Sash who then produced draft reports, based on the information collected through monitoring. These were, in turn, presented to monitors and government departments for input before being disseminated. Community organisations used different strategies to utilise the data at the local level (or sometimes escalated to provincial and national level), in order to tackle the problems identified at service delivery sites.
Over the project period, 479 individuals nominated from 404 different civil society organisations (274 that had signed project MOUs), drawn from all 9 provinces in South Africa, participated at different levels in the CMAP. In an intensive programme of support, they participated in a total of 36 provincial workshops and received a total of 606 field visits. Monitors submitted more than 8965 questionnaires that were developed into 41 reports on service delivery.
Significant changes attributed to CMAP
The Community Agency for Social Enquiry (CASE), which conducted an independent evaluation of CMAP, found that three main significant changes can be attributed to the CMAP:
- Improved awareness of rights and active citizenship
- Improvement in service delivery
- Strengthened stakeholder relationships
Dissemination of our learning
Black Sash and its partners have documented the project and distributed examples of good practice, together with our reflections. The work of CMAP and its methodology has been shared with government and civil society, at conferences, in publications, and with the media in an attempt to create a better understanding of service delivery challenges across different sectors of society, and to present lessons from CMAP for community-driven methodologies to address these challenges.
Impact on national policy
CMAP has been acknowledged as a significant and innovative project, and we have had ongoing engagement with the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) at the Presidency in this respect (see resources below for submissions and presentations to this department on independent citizen monitoring.)
A community mandate
Towards the end of 2012, we held a national CMAP conference attended by a representative sample of CMAP monitors selected by fellow monitors in each province, fieldworkers and project staff from Black Sash and SCAT, researchers, donors, and other civil society partners. A statement was adopted by the conference delegates in which they argued strongly for a future for the practice of community monitoring and called on NGO, community, donor and government stakeholders to make this possible. The statement ends with “We are committed to bring the valuable experience, skills, materials, networks and practices that have been developed by and between CMAP partners over the past two years into the process; and, remain committed and inspired to build a culture of active citizenry in South Africa.” (Read the full statement)
Lessons and Insights from the CMAP project were recently shared at:
- The 5th Annual UWC HIV-in Context Research Symposium: Urbanisation, Inequality and HIV held at UWC March 13-15, 2013 (by Nkosikhulule Nyembezi)
- Planact Learning Event: "Community Based Monitoring Practices" held in Gauteng on March 19 2013 (by Thandiwe Zulu)
Sash makes presentation at launch of Good Governance Learning Network (GGLN) 2013 publication,"Active Citizenship Matters - Perspectives from Civil Society on Local Governance in South Africa"
CMAP and the Citizen Journalism Project: Health-e News Service has invited CMAP monitors to bring community health issues to the attention of citizen journalists who aim to get health news from the districts into the media in order to empower people who use the health facilities to be able to report on them and on health issues affecting their communities.
CMAP Submission to the Department of Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) at the Presidency: The DPME is developing a framework for front line service delivery monitoring and, as part of its consultation with civil society, invited the Black Sash to make a submission based on CMAP.