Community Monitoring and Advocacy Project

To improve government service delivery to poor and marginalised communities and individuals.

Aim of the Project

The Black Sash Community Monitoring and Advocacy Project (CMAP), conducted in partnership with the Social Change Assistance Trust (SCAT) as funded by the European Union, ran from 2009 to 2013 and was implemented by civil society organisations based within communities, in a bid to improve government service delivery to poor and marginalised communities and individuals.

Action Taken

Monitoring was conducted by dedicated community volunteers who were nominated and supported by the civil society organisations. The volunteers were trained and mentored to implement CMAP by the Black Sash and SCAT.

The government agencies and departments identified for monitoring were the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), Department of Health, Department of Home Affairs and local 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 wearing branded bibs enabled a strong statement of community vigilance and transparency.  They interviewed beneficiaries and officials at service delivery sites, and made observations regarding basic services within the local community. The questionnaire data was captured and analysed by the Black Sash to produce draft reports. These were presented to monitors and government departments for input before dissemination.

Community organisations used different strategies to utilise the data at the local level in order to tackle the problems identified at service delivery sites. Where the challenges persisted, these were escalated to provincial and national level.

Over the project period, 479 individuals nominated from 404 different civil society organisations, 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 8 965 questionnaires that were developed into 41 reports on service delivery. Black Sash and our partners documented the project and distributed examples of good practice, together with our reflections.

The work of CMAP and its methodology was 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. We also used the opportunities to present lessons learned from CMAP for community-driven methodologies, in order to address these challenges.

The Community Agency for Social Enquiry (CASE), conducted an independent evaluation and found that three main significant changes could be attributed to the CMAP:

  • Improved awareness of rights and active citizenship
  • Improvement in service delivery
  • Strengthened stakeholder relationships/

Read the full CASE Evaluation of the Community Monitoring and Advocacy Project (CMAP) here.

CMAP was acknowledged as a significant and innovative project, and we engaged with the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation and the Presidency in this respectRead the DPME Framework for Strengthening Citizen-Government Partnerships for Monitoring Frontline Service Delivery.

At the 2012 national CMAP conference, attended by a representative sample of CMAP monitors, fieldworkers, project staff, researchers, donors and other civil society partners, a statement was adopted by the conference delegates in which they argued strongly for “Moving from CMAP as a project to a practice.”