A new M&E Framework has been prepared which is presently being piloted in the Eastern Cape.

The new framework stems from past experiences of following a broad approach that attempts to measure change in income and assets. In that framework there were detailed questionnaires, including a baseline and follow-up questionnaires, centred on trying to measure income and expenditure across households. It aimed to build up a detailed picture of households' livelihood strategies and assets. At a later point there would be another ‘snapshot’ of this data to try to establish changes. Alongside this, various qualitative methods were used. These included focus groups discussions (FGDs) and semi-structured interviews.

The qualitative methods (particularly the semi-structured methods) produced rich accounts of changes in people’s lives, of a sense of agency and renewed hope. The quantitative data essentially raised more questions and taught us very little. The work paralleled the global economic crisis, and there was no way of knowing what effect that had had on the data.

The new framework outlines SaveAct’s theory of change and the effects it programme seeks to have. These are considered in relation to the key areas of work associated with: savings and credit, LST and enterprise development.

A balance of qualitative and quantitative measures of change is being applied. Tools have been developed to gauge conditions at the start of an action (baseline), and a similar tool to be applied some time later. This is so as to try to ascertain what changes have occurred over the period. Proxy indicators have been identified to be used to measure change in household asset accumulation.

There is a tool to:

  • Map what loans are being used for;
  • Assess whether loans or share-outs are meeting the needs of the individual;
  • Evaluate LST for facilitators;
  • Enable LST participants to share their stories, using ‘anecdote circles’ to understand what changes participants have you made to their finances since the LST lessons started, and whether they will use their loans and share-outs differently now. Anecdote circles are like focus groups but instead of eliciting people’s opinions, the focus is on their stories;
  • Record baseline information related to business plans for enterprise;
  • Develop a business plan showing assumptions associated with profitability;
  • Follow up post-Isiqalo training to assess the progress in the business.

A management information system (MIS), developed by VSL & Associates, is used to track progress and performance of every SCG. Data is aggregated to provide general performance ratios and summary information by area and by field officer. This is an important management tool. A score card assessment pro forma will assist with periodic assessment of group performance to move into a next stage towards maturity. A field worker assessment form is to be used by supervisors to monitor performance and assist with supervision of field workers and in turn volunteers. Monthly planning and reporting pro formas are also used to assist field staff to plan and monitor their own actions.