Besides the mandate given to CSO under Statistics Law 2006, the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) has also defined the strategic role of CSO in monitoring and evaluation of ANDS itself. As the country's Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), the ANDS consists of three phases: (i) formulation (ii) implementation and (iii) monitoring and evaluation. The monitoring and evaluation phase runs parallel to implementation, allowing actions and measures taken to be monitored, providing an indication of their efficiency and effectiveness in meeting poverty reduction and development targets. The Afghanistan Compact benchmarks and the MDGs have been integrated into the ANDS Sector Strategies. The role of CSO in monitoring and evaluation of the ANDS has been clearly spelt out. The ANDS emphasizes maintaining “transparency and accountability and encouraging support from NGOs, the Central Statistics Office and citizens in the provision of data and analysis of findings” and building the “core institutional capacities needed to sustain M&E processes, both within the CMRS, as well as the CSO, NRVA and line ministry systems”.
2. The institutional structure for monitoring includes a number of government, donor and non-government institutions; however the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB),line ministries and the CSO have to play the most important roles. The Central Monitoring and Reporting System (CMRS) within the JCMB Secretariat and Ministry of Economy has to act as the central machinery of Government to support the monitoring and reporting process. Alongside the CSO, it will provide the central hub for all national monitoring as an apex monitoring body, with a particular focus on monitoring and evaluating the impact of the Compact and the ANDS. It will not function in isolation but will bring together existing information from the CSO, consumer price indices, the NRVA, Afghanistan Financial Monitoring Information System, Afghanistan Country Stability Picture (for ISAF), Afghanistan Information Management Service, Donor Assistance Database and GeoBase, the Project and Activity Tracking system of USAID/Afghanistan as well as sectoral ministries. The ANDS clearly lays down that there will be no conflict between the roles of the CMRS and the CSO, as they will be at two opposite pillars of the data systems. While the CSO will concentrate on data collection through various means including surveys and their reporting, the CMRS will be collating the filtered data produced by the CSO and will facilitate various monitoring processes and disseminate information. They will in fact complement each other. The role of these surveys will be further expanded so that they can meet the immediate data needs of the other sectors. The multi-purpose household surveys will be conducted under the supervision and guidance of the CSO. To monitor the impact on poverty, the NRVA and the future household budget surveys will serve as the key source for monitoring for critical poverty and social outcome indicators and completion of the reports on poverty situation.
3. The Line Ministries/Departments will continue to collect sector relevant information to monitor the output and sectoral outcome of national spending through the ANDS. The CMRS and CSO will work closely with line ministries to standardize methodological approaches to monitor national programs. The Ministry of Economy will be responsible for the wider inter-ministerial coordination.
4. The CSO will remain the main provider of primary and secondary information in relation to national statistics, as an input to the CMRS. The CSO will continue to compile official statistics on national accounts, prices, external trade, population and demographics for monitoring economic, financial, and structural policies as well as other operations that will provide lots of quality information for improving the monitoring framework. The ANDS document states that “the capacity of the CSO will be strengthened so that a meaningful statistical system is put in place for providing useful data on various macro-economic processes and important sectors. It is necessary for this purpose to strengthen the collection of operational data in various sectors through respective agencies. The CSO will coordinate data collection systems in various ministries and organizations”.
5. The ANDS also recognizes the role of NRVA and other surveys conducted by CSO in monitoring and evaluation of the programs. The document states, “One of the most important data-capturing exercises has been the NRVA surveys, from which the current poverty line has been calculated”. Three NRVA surveys have already been conducted that provides critical information on poverty. In order to evaluate effects of implementation of the ANDS on poverty reduction, the JCMB Secretariat will be producing reports on poverty situation on three-year basis to coincide with the completion of the NRVA surveys, which will continue to be the most important instrument for collection of the poverty related data and produce annual progress reports on 25 indicators of the MDGs.
6. The measurement and analysis of poverty, inequality, and vulnerability are crucial for formulating policies and therefore Government has developed poverty and vulnerability surveys largely based on income and consumption data, disaggregated by province, household, agro-economic zone, gender and household size, among other factors. The process of data collection and analysis under NRVA 2007-08 has led to a far deeper understanding of the causes of poverty and defining a new poverty line. The Strategy Paper outlines the overall poverty monitoring and strategy design process undertaken in formulating and implementing the ANDS.
7. The pivotal role and responsibility of CSO in providing information to decision-makers for monitoring and evaluation of ANDS is clearly reflected in Table 13.1 of ANDS (refer to Annexure-I of Capacity Development Plan of CSO). Out of 99 ANDS monitoring and evaluation indicators for all the responsible sectoral Ministries/Agencies, CSO alone has been given the responsibility of providing 43 indicators, including the 15 Economic Indicators shown under the responsibility of DAB and MoF with Data Source as National Accounts compiled by CSO.
8. In establishing an effective monitoring and evaluation systems for the ANDS and MDGs, based on relevant official and administrative statistics, CSO has to play a key role in determining the following:
(i) Goals, indicators and targets;
(ii) Levels of data disaggregation including by province and gender;
(iii) Appropriate targets, for example through the MDGs, Compact and ANDS sectoral levels;
(iv) Data requirements to meet the minimum standards of a PRSP; and
(v) Frequency of data collection and monitoring.
9. Data requirements to feed into the input, output, outcome and impact assessment process are to be gradually established. However, due to weak statistical data, the base-lines for a number of key development and poverty indicators are yet to be established. This is going to be an important priority for the implementation of the ANDS, which states that “strengthening of the CSO and the capacity of the line ministries will be essential for establishing clear baselines. These efforts will include mapping intermediate indicators with final outcomes”.