Evidence-based learning is critical for solid input for policy advocacy and improved programming. RSPN has been central in assessing and creating new knowledge drawing practical lessons from over 30 years of experience. RSPN’s Research and Knowledge Management section works closely with the RSPs and other development partners, gleaning lessons from the work of RSPs with communities and documenting them for wider dissemination.
The challenges that the RSPs face are threefold: first, to set appropriate baselines and key performance indicators that track progress over time, especially when the flow of resources and the sectors of work vary over time and between target groups (i.e. Community Organisations); second, to develop and use effective tools to address several important questions like, “Are the RSPs reaching the poor?” “Are the poor participating in and benefiting from the RSP programmes?” “Do the RSPs make a difference in the standard of living (quality of life) of rural households participating in the RSPs’ programmes?”; and third, to hire, train and retain the professionals to do the job, given
limited resources available for this purpose and given the rather dynamic job market for individuals with monitoring, evaluation and reporting skills.
Since its inception, RSPN has actively pursued capacity building, experience sharing, documentation, and assessment and evaluation services for the RSPs. While the activities have been dynamic and changing with time, RSPN has focused on improving the RSPs’ capacities to better track and assess their programmes for results and impacts. Core elements of the strategy are: (i) strengthening the RSPs monitoring and evaluation systems and capacities to provide timely and accurate information to RSP managements on programme performance and results; (ii) developing simple and cost effective tools and techniques to assist the RSPs in carrying out poverty targeting, performance measurement and monitoring and baseline and impact surveys; (iii) conducting research, impact assessments and case studies on development topics in general and RSP programmes in particular.
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