Zambian technocrats set for more accountability in development planning

Participants were also introduced to a number of statistical methodologies and packages as well as toolkits for strengthening accountability in planning

Delegates at the just-ended workshop say they have gained insights into ways of optimising their work by routing key accountability factors into Zambia’s development planning processes.

The eight-day training programme, which was held in Lusaka and co-organized by United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and Ministry of National Development Planning drew participation from policy and programme planners, statisticians and other national professionals.

The Training was held under the theme, “Strengthening of the Capacities of African Governments for Integrating Accountability in Development Planning”.

Sponsored by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and rolled out by the Macroeconomic and Governance Division of ECA, the just-ended workshop is part of a comprehensive UN Development Account Project aimed at beefing up the know-how of governments across five African pilot countries for integrating accountability in development planning.

Apart from Zambia, the four other countries benefiting from this situational analysis, strategy development, and knowledge-sharing package are Benin, Cameroon, Egypt and Kenya. The workshop teased out the dual relationships of accountability in development, hence the underpinning reason and essence of this UN Development Account project, which seeks to establish and strengthen the interlinkages between Statistics and National Planning as a means of enhancing transparency and accountability within the context of national development policy framework.

The training focused on the need for quality data, hence evidence, to inform planning decisions; inclusive planning methods which involve various segments of society in identifying development needs and actions; budgeting in a challenging financing climate; developing institutional capacities; going all-out for transparency; achieving optimum value for resources spent; creating impact; and monitoring and evaluating development programmes.

The overall objective of the training was, on one hand, to strengthen the capacity of African national planning institutions to integrate accountability frameworks and evidence-based policy-making in their development planning processes, and on the other to strengthen the capacity of African national statistics institutions to collect, compile and produce the data necessary to inform and support development planning.

And speaking during the closing ceremony, Coordinator of the Project, Mr. Sylvain Boko, Principal Regional Advisor on Development Planning at the ECA emphasized on the need for accountable development planning so as to create real impact on the beneficiaries.

“Accountability is not a trifling matter,” he argued. “It requires constant monitoring of our behaviour as managers and decision-makers and our responsibility to the people we serve in the context of the management of public resources,” Mr Boko said.

He further pointed out that there was need for policy makers in Africa to look for homegrown solutions to the many problems that confront the continent based on the availability of robust and reliable data and information.

Speaking at the same event, Ministry of National Development Planning – Director Development Planning Mulele Mulele observed the need to scale up the programme to train planners and development stakeholders at Province and District levels in capacities to use tools that will enable integrating accountability and evidence-based decision making in planning at the various levels.

“Through this training, participants have come to appreciate the various types of data and how to apply it to various needs such as evaluating strategies, public policies, and plans; evidence-based planning and national strategy orientation. Participants were introduced to key tools for strategic planning and impact evaluation of development programmes and projects. They were also introduced to the importance of linking financing (budget) and planning,” he said.

“Participants were also introduced to a number of statistical methodologies and packages as well as toolkits for strengthening accountability in planning; and group work that was used was very effective in bringing out issues, deepening understanding/knowledge levels and practical applications in various areas of development,” Mulele emphasised.

The training workshop on “Strengthening of the Capacities of African Governments for Integrating Accountability in Development Planning” brought together over 45 policy and programme planners, statisticians and other national professionals drawn from across the country.