Community-based Monitoring

Community-Based Monitoring (CBM) provides a mechanism for civil society to gather and analyse information from the service users’ points of view. Black Sash works with Community Partners across the country to monitor and gather evidence about the quality of services people are receiving.

History of Community-based Monitoring

Prior to the development of the CBM model, the Black Sash Trust and the Social Change Assistance Trust (SCAT) engaged in a partnership to implement the Community Monitoring and Advocacy Project (CMAP). CMAP was a three-year pilot project that was rolled out across all nine provinces in South Africa, from 2010 to 2013, funded by the European Union and the Open Society Foundation. The key objective of CMAP was to collect detailed and accurate information about service delivery, and use this information to advocate for improvements at the public facility level.

In 2012, Black Sash approached the Community Agency for Social Enquiry (CASE) to conduct a formative evaluation of CMAP. The CASE Report showed that CMAP significantly improved citizens’ awareness and, importantly, strengthened the voice of citizens in monitoring service delivery. CMAP also contributed to strengthening the relationships between service beneficiaries, government officials, participating CBOs, and monitors.

In September 2012, Black Sash made a submission to the Presidency to help shape the framework document for citizen monitoring of service delivery, which was also presented to Cabinet. In August 2013, Cabinet adopted the Framework for Strengthening Citizen-Government Partnerships for Monitoring Frontline Service Delivery in which the CMAP model is outlined and referenced.

In May 2013, the Black Sash launched the Reducing Maternal and Child Mortality. Through Strengthening Primary Health Care (RMCH) programme. The RMCH was a 17 month national programme funded by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID). The main objective of the RMCH programme was to provide support to the National Department of Health (NDoH) to improve the quality of, and access to, reproductive, maternal and child health services for women and children living in poorer and underserviced regions of South Africa (Black Sash Annual Report, 2013). This monitoring project also focussed on strengthening partnerships between the clinic, community health centre committees and civil society organisations and forums (e.g. Imbizos, NGOs / CBOs, ward committees, and school governing bodies) to explore options to improve the performance of health facilities. The project was piloted in two districts: OR Tambo in the Eastern Cape and uMgungundlovu in KwaZulu-Natal.

Building on the success and experiences of CMAP and RMCH, the Black Sash partnered with Making All Voices Count (MAVC) in mid-2014. MAVC is a global organisation that funds, promotes and supports innovation and accountable governance. MAVC uses creative and cutting-edge solutions – including mobile and web technology – to amplify the voices of citizens and support governments to listen and respond. At the point of data analysis for Cycle 1 of the pilot programme, Black Sash collaborated with Code4SouthAfrica, a ‘civic technology lab’. Code4SA supports civil society organisations in the transparency and governance space exploring technological support for their advocacy work. Code4SA developed a clean, easy to access presentation of the monitoring data, Performance results in the form of info-graphic posters were used in dialogue between the stakeholders at the monitored stations. Code4SA is also developing an IT platform to store and make the data accessible to a range of users. The Black Sash MAVC project is built on the principle that people are not passive users of public services, but active holders of fundamental rights.

The 2019 Community-Based Monitoring (CBM) programme saw the Black Sash embark on a new monitoring cycle with the goal of assessing compliance of grant payment sites to the Service Level Agreement (SLA) between SASSA and SAPO.

SASSA concluded a SLA with SAPO, signed in September 2018.

The SLA stipulates a standard of service delivery and makes provision for the dignity, security and service quality to beneficiaries. For example, it stipulates a standard for shelter, sanitation, access to drinking water, queuing time and security services. These standards are being monitored at SAPO branches as well as pay points.

During 2018 SASSA closed a large number of grant pay points reducing them from 10,000 to 1,780. Many beneficiaries are incurring additional transport costs as well as paying extra bank charges, depleting an already meagre grant.

The SASSA/SAPO SDA makes provision for a basket of free services, including withdrawals at retailers. Whilst neither SASSA nor SAPO have formal agreements with retailers and banks, it is important that grant beneficiaries experience a decent standard of service at retailers as well as ATMs.

During 2020, the Back Sash CBM programme continued monitoring the SASSA/ SAPO SLA, as well as the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant which was introduced in May.