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CHAPTER ONE

Managing Rural Poverty through Community Participation in Development Projects


1.0

Background of the Study

Globally, the number of people in absolute poverty has been in decline for around 25 years, yet
in Africa it is still increasing. The challenge of poverty reduction in Africa is of a different order
from that elsewhere and will require different strategies (Collier, 2007).
According to Brandt Commission (1980), cited in Henderson (1980), hundreds of millions of
people in the poorer countries are preoccupied solely with survival and elementary needs. For
them work is frequently not available or, when it is, pay is low and conditions often barely
tolerable. Homes are constructed of impermanent materials and have neither piped water nor
sanitation. Electricity is a luxury. Health services are thinly spread and in rural areas only rarely
within walking distance. Primary schools, where they exist, may be free and not too far away,
but children are needed for work and cannot be easily spared for schooling. Permanent insecurity
is the condition of the poor. There are no public systems of social security in the event of
unemployment, sickness or death of a wage earner in the family. In Ghana, according to BorteiDoku, E., (2007), there is widespread evidence of social security failures among those who rely
largely on their social assistance arrangements within the informal economy, indicating that this
channel is no longer able to cushion workers and their families against shocks.

The economy of Ghana just like other Sub-Saharan African countries is agrarian, thus the
country depends heavily on agriculture in terms of employment, food security and income.
However, the agricultural sector is facing a number of challenges. For instance, the seasonality
of the sector does not make it possible for people to be employed all the year round. Again, postharvest losses affect the income of farmers making the farming sub sector almost unattractive to
the youth. This situation continues to affect the poverty situation of the majority of the people
especially those who live in the rural areas. The attempt to alleviate the poverty situation of the
rural poor by providing alternative sources of livelihood gave birth to the implementation of a
number of policies and programmes in Ghana including the Rural Enterprises Project (REP).

REP represents part of Government of Ghanas development program to create wealth and
reduce poverty in rural Ghana. It is an integrated micro and small scale enterprise (MSE)
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development package which combines business development services, technology transfer,


support to apprenticeship training, rural financial services, policy dialogue and institutional
partnership building to encourage the development and growth of small business enterprises and
self-employment. In line with this, active involvement of beneficiary communities in monitoring
and evaluating such interventions supported by the district assemblies is crucial so as to own and
sustain these projects by the local people.

This study is based on a community participation in the monitoring and evaluation process of
development projects where performance indicators and targets are jointly defined by both
project management and beneficiary communities. However, to build successful local rural
micro entrepreneurial capacities for accelerated poverty reduction and economic growth,
information resources on business growth performance must be available to policy makers. To
achieve this objective the study made available a functional Management Information System
that capture data on activities and operations of rural micro enterprises and output information to
inform policy decisions.

The study also examines the management of MSE information at the District Assembly as a way
of exposing their strengths and weaknesses and how these are and can be addressed effectively.
MSEs (defined as independent enterprises, which control relatively small share of the market and
usually managed and operated by an individual or family) have always contributed to economic
development of many rural communities in Ghana. Provision of an enabling policy environment
that ensures that gains from operations of the private sector do not fritter away was also
examined.

1.1

Research Problem

This study was undertaken against the backdrop of an existing system of managing MSE
information at the district assembly. This does not match the contemporary demands for
information to inform policy decisions. An efficient management of MSEs project in the
Asuogyaman District Assembly entails a vast set of democratic processes at every level of
society, from the unit committees and town council to district, regional and national institutions.

These should allow the voices of the people to be heard but this is conspicuously absent in the
current system.
As an exploratory research, the researcher identified specifically, the following areas as major
management problems confronting the planning, budgeting and the implementation of rural
micro enterprises development projects at the district assemblies.

(a) Poor outcomes due to the top down approach to project monitoring and evaluation
In recent time development projects have become more localized due to diverse needs and
priorities of local communities, but have been exclusively absent from planning such
projects. There is the need for new, more versatile and more decentralized processes
involving local people at all stages in project implementation. Progress can no longer be
measured using rigid traditional top- down approach especially, defining performance
indicators and monitoring of project activities to meet the aspirations of the beneficiary
communities.
(b) Lack of information on activities of rural MSEs by the District Assemblies
As a main source of revenue for the district assembly, the activities of micro enterprises
found in all communities have not been given the necessary attention by the district
authorities due to lack of information. There is also lack of coordination among the
institutions and departments set up to provide the needed information for management
decisions on these enterprises resulting in a great loss of revenue to the district assemblies.
(c) Manual information management procedures
Data collection, collation, processing and packaging of all forms of activities related to the
district including trade, tourism and business information are done manually. Information
therefore cannot be stored and retrieved to produce timely reports for planning, budgeting,
policy formulation, decision-making and research.

Attention must be given to non involvement of project beneficiaries and other local stakeholders
in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation processes for the full impact of
development goals and objectives to be achieved. This will bridge the huge gap between these
goals and the expected results.
To achieve these goals there are certain prominent questions that need answers.
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1.2

Research Questions

This study concentrates on developing an electronic system of managing information generated


from Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation (PM&E) system for management decisions. In the
light of the above, the key questions were as follows:

1.

What type of feedback mechanism exists to promote the development and growth
performance of MSE operators in the local communities and the district assembly?

2.

How do information on micro enterprises operations flow from the local community level
to the general assembly, who are responsible and by what means?

3.

What capacities must be built to equip the small scale business operators to systematically
monitor and evaluate the results of their activities and adapt those that are sustainable?

4.

What mechanisms are put in place by the District Assembly to ensure that donor supported
Rural Micro and Small Enterprises development projects are locally owned and sustained?

5.

What are the existing opportunities at the District Assembly and the sub-districts for
promoting sustainable PM&E in rural MSE development projects?

1.3

Research Objectives

The general objective of this study is to empirically examine the development of customized
software on Participatory Community Based Management Information System (PCBMIS) for
managing rural micro and small business development projects. This will promote effective
functioning of MSE development of the district. Specifically, the study seeks to:

1.

To identify the major factors that influences the dissemination of MSE information for
efficient and effective local governance on private sector development.

2.

To investigate and document MSE information management at the District Assembly to


promote MSE development in the district.

3.

To undertake a comprehensive study on how to develop the capacities of project


beneficiaries to decide their own sustainable performance indicators.

4.

To develop a Management Information System software for efficient management of


rural MSEs development.
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1.4

Scope of the Study

For the purpose of this research work, the advantages of creating MSE information resource to
speed up the operations of the Assembly were examined. This is to ascertain its impacts on micro
enterprises performance within the context of planning. Areas considered for the study were as
follows:

MIS concepts and applications include Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation processes,
Database Management Systems (DBMS) and Information Resources.

The role of the Management Information Systems application in the Assembly was
considered for study.

The growth performance of off farm MSEs that add value to direct agricultural products by
providing additional income to the rural poor was included in the study.

The use of Geographic Information System (GIS) to monitor the location of and types of
enterprises in the district using the ArcGIS application software.

The study, geographically, covered the Asuogyaman district, a participating project district,
of the Rural Enterprises Project in the Eastern Region.

The time frame considered is the four years of REP implementation in the District.

1.5

Research Methodology

Considering the research questions and the variables examined the approach to this work
included desk study through literature review. Field survey through administration of
questionnaires, interviews, observations and analysis of collated data was also undertaken.
(i)

The desk study:

A desk study was conducted through a systematic review of relevant literature of textbooks,
institutional publications, journals, periodicals, workshop resource materials, seminars and
conference papers. A review of documents and Archival records was also undertaken as the
source of secondary data. The internet was other source of materials used.
(ii)

The design of field survey:

The study called for the full participation of the Rural Enterprises Project stakeholders to ensure
that beneficiaries were given the opportunity to understand the concept and application of
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Participation in Monitoring and Evaluation of development projects. To achieve the set


objectives of the study both structured and semi-structured questionnaires were developed as a
tool for primary data collection.
(iii)

Data Collection

The methods of data collection were both formal and informal. Data gathered were largely
qualitative, but include some quantitative data as well. Database of project clients at the BAC
was the source of population data for this study from which a sample frame (stratified samples)
was drawn.
The unit of investigation included District Assembly Staff, Rural Enterprises Project staff, and
members of the General Assembly, members of the Sub Committee on Micro and Small
Enterprises (MSE) Development and members of the Local Business Associations (LBAs).
(iv)

Data Analysis

Both qualitative and qualitative data analysis were the basis for the study due to the variables
examined and the nature of the problem under study. Simple descriptive statistical techniques
were employed to analyze field data from questionnaires to assist the interpretation and analysis
of data using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS).

1.6

Justification

Rural dwellers constitute the greatest proportion of the poorest group in the district therefore
targeting the rural entrepreneurial poor as both object of poverty and agent of poverty reduction
in the Asuogyaman district is very much justifiable.
The study is expected to provide the following benefits to districts and sub-district administrators
and stakeholders of the Rural Enterprises Project:

Reports generated from the MIS can be disseminated to identifiable stakeholders within the
district, including the District Assembly itself, sectors or departments, essential service
providers, local business associations and NGOs for public knowledge.

The new system will increase efficiency in terms of an electronically flexible and fast data
entry, analysis and reporting system and finally reducing human errors associated with
manual systems.
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Improve revenue collection of the District Assembly through efficient and accurate
information on active businesses in the districts

Establishing an information database will increase collaboration in terms of information


sharing and this will subsequently impact positively on planning and budgeting.

The final product of this study, in terms of reports generated from the PCBMIS, will enrich
the deliberation at the District General Assembly meetings by the MSE subcommittee on
development.

1.7

Limitations to the Study

Lack of records keeping on business performance because of the illiteracy level of some REP
beneficiaries made it difficult to provide information on their business growth performance.
Also, the absence of District Assembly officials on many visits made it difficult to obtain the
necessary data on time and hence a delay in meeting the data collection deadline set. It must be
emphasized that not all decentralized departments were considered in the study due to areas of
interest.
In spite of these factors limiting the achievement of results, the study was not affected because
information provided in the questionnaires and interviews conducted with key informants gave
the necessary data for analyses.

1.8

Organization of the Report

The report was mainly organized into six chapters. Chapter one deals with the background of the
study covering areas such as the problem statement, research questions and objectives, scope,
methodology adopted for the study, justification and limitations to the study. Chapter two looks
at key concepts and issues on building Participatory Management Information Systems to
monitor and evaluate rural enterprises projects. This is where relevant literature on the study has
been reviewed. Chapter three gives the methodology adopted for the study. The results of the
study and analyses of data have been presented in chapter four. Chapter five provides an
overview of the Participatory Community Based Management Information Systems (PCBMIS)
developed for adoption by the Asuogyaman District Assembly. This was based on the major
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findings with respect to the objectives of the study. Finally, conclusions and recommendations
for effective application of participatory MIS to enhance rural micro enterprise development and
the overall planning process in Asuogyaman district have been presented in chapter six.

CHAPTER TWO
Building Participatory Management Information Systems to Monitor and Evaluate
Community Projects
2.0
Introduction
The use of participatory community-based management information systems is an approach to
strengthen community responses, allowing for decentralized decision-making at the community
level. Through the development of indicators, collection of information, and the utilization of
data for decision making, local communities have the potential to monitor and maintain the
quality of development interventions.

Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) and Management Information Systems (MIS) are concepts
that are often used interchangeably to describe how information on the progress of a project is
used for follow-ups and management. In this study the term M&E is used to define the way that
progress information is made available to management and to find out if project activities are
implemented as planned and is achieving the set objectives. The MIS in this context describes
how communal data are organized, updated and applied for management decision making on
development projects. It is therefore essential to present a discussion on the key concepts and
issues on Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation and Community Based Management
Information Systems.

The study is based on community participation in development projects and its direct impact on
district development where MIS is seen as a decision making tool for the processes of socioeconomic development. This development process requires information about micro enterprises
development problems, the available local resource base, projects and sectoral activities
including management information systems relating to planning, administration, monitoring and
evaluation and regular operation of projects and programmes that are of micro and small scale
enterprise development focus.

2.1

The Role of Management Information System in Planning

In the past, management information systems (MIS) focused on data relating to the internal
operations of institutions. Recently, however, strategic planning as a means of establishing long
term goals is becoming increasingly dependent upon data external to the institutions, such as
demographics and socio-economic factors. In strategic planning MIS plays the role of
monitoring social changes, assessing institutional strengths, and integrating internal and external
data.
In trying to solve development problems, planners and policy makers need information regarding
natural, human and economic resources to create a platform for planners in the design of plans.
There is therefore the need for a strong information resource base concerning all activities
summarized in the development plans.

2.2

The Concept of Management Information System

The concept of Management Information Systems has undergone an evolution for the past three
decades. Bedford (1972) said management control system typically referred to as management
system that has been automated and placed on a computer thereby replacing certain human
managerial activities. Mader et al (1974) cited in Bernus ., et al (2006) defines information
systems as the system which provides transaction, processing and decision support.

Archipbgs proposed that information system is a designed tool, the purpose of which is to serve
people in active work with information in an organization. It is an organized construction with
subsystems for collecting, processing, storing, retrieving and distributing information, cited in
(Bernus 2006).
In their contributions, Tatnal et al, (1995), also defined Information Systems as a system
comprising hardware, software, people, procedures and data integrated with the objective of
collecting, storing, processing, transmitting and displaying information.
It is clear from the various definitions given above that the concept of MIS expresses the idea of
people, information technology and procedures which enable the generation and dissemination of
information. It covers the what, how and why information system and that MIS can be manual or
computer based.

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The elements of an information system include a hardware which is used for input/output process
and storage of data, and software used to process data. Also it instructs the hardware component
(Figure 2.1), database which are located in the system where all the organized data are stored
including procedures which explain the structure of that management information system.
Conclusively, MIS is an integration of system, information and management. The system that
emphasizes a fair integration and a holistic view and Information stresses on processed data in
the context in which it is used by the end users while management focuses on the ultimate use of
such information system for managerial decision making.
Figure 2.1

The Concept of Management Information System in Perspective

Processing Logic

Data

Judgment/
Intuition

Computers

Inform
ation

Skill /
Experience

External/
Environment

Decision
Intelligence

Design

Choice

Human Beings

Decision Making
Database

Decision Implementation

MIS

Performance
Monitoring /Evaluation /Feedback

Source: Seema Sirpal, 2011

By information we mean data that have been processed into a form that is meaningful and useful
for management decisions. Stonecash (1981) also defines information simply as symbols (data,
text, images, voices, etc.) that convey meaning through their relative ordering, timing, shape,
context, etc. Information is the raw material for making decisions for creating knowledge and
fuelling the modern organization.

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Figure 2.2

Data Processing and Decision Making

Data

Input

Process

Information

Processing, Classify, Arrange

Output

And Calculate

Feedback
Source: Laudon and Laudon, 2004

Data, in contrast, are streams of raw facts representing events occurring within the organization
or the physical environment before they are organized and arranged into a form that people can
understand and use. There are three basic activities organizations require in making decisions,
controlling operations, analyzing problems and creating new products or services. These are
input, processing and output activities (Figure 2.2). Input captures or collects raw data from
within the organizations and its external environment. Processing converts this raw input into
activities where outputs are collected while the system also requires feedback, which is output
that is returned to, appropriate department of the organization to help evaluate or correct the
input stage.
2.3

Importance of MIS to the Decision Maker

Managers are hired to make effective decisions leading to efficient performance of activities and
optimal achievement of organizational goals, and mission. Managers rely heavily on both formal
channels (routine statistical and management reports) of communication and informal channels
(rumors, unofficial discussions with colleagues) in their organizations as sources of data used to
arrive at decisions. Functionally, an effective management information system supports
monitoring, supervision, evaluation, operations research, resource allocation, and performance
appraisals. A manager must, for sound decision-making, always depend on two basic core
activities: data collection and data analysis. Moreover, the effective manager works staff to
ensure that each staff understands why certain data are being collected; how these data should be
analyzed to support operations; when analyses should trigger other actions; and who should
regularly receive and review data and analyses (Argyris, 1991).

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2.4

Monitoring and Evaluation as Integral part of MIS

Monitoring and evaluation can help organizations extract relevant information from past and
ongoing activities that can be used as the basis for programmatic fine-tuning, reorientation and
future planning. Without effective planning, monitoring and evaluation, it would be impossible
to judge if work is going in the right direction, whether progress and success can be claimed, and
how future efforts might be improved (UNDP, 2009).
MIS provides a framework for the monitoring and evaluation of projects and programmes so that
the information need at the centre like the District Assemblies and donors can be fulfilled by
using the framework for collecting information. In effect, a project/ program monitoring system
is a management information system that provides information for making decision by
management.
Figure 2.3

Relationship between Project Monitoring and Evaluation and the MIS


Collecting data for:
Record keeping
Formats
Reports
Indicators
Inputs and outputs

MIS

Monitoring

EXAMINING:
How?
Who?
What?
When?
Why?
Where?
Related to projects
and activities

Evaluation
Determine and documenting
Achievement
Results
Impact
Constraints
On-going needs
Cost-effectiveness
Organizational capacity
Community linkage
Sustainability

Project monitoring steps:


On-site visits
Scheduling
Using instruments
Reviewing data
Giving feedback
Follow-up and reporting
Examining report

Source: Pathfinder International, 2000

An evaluation also yields other critical information about impact, cost-effectiveness, and future
potential. Both monitoring and evaluation make use of information gathered to assess the status

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of programs at any given time, and serve as a basis for reviewing and revising project plans,
making sound decisions, and meeting donor funding requirements.
Figure 2.3 illustrates how monitoring and evaluation are seen to be interdependent; though
separate, it is the MIS that consolidates both activities.
There are huge amounts of information available to todays manager and this means that project
managers are increasingly relying on management information system to access the information
needed. Management information services help managers to access relevant, accurate, up-to-date
information which is the more sure way of making accurate decisions.
2.5

Information Systems

Generally, there are four levels of information systems, the operational level systems which
support operational managers by monitoring the day-to-day basic activities and transactions of
the organization. The knowledge level systems support knowledge and data workers in designing
products, distributing information and coping with paperwork in an organization.
Figure 2.4

Levels of Information Systems


KIND OF SYSTEM

GROUPS SERVED

Strategic Level

Senior Managers

Management Level

Middle Managers

Knowledge &
Data Workers

Knowledge Level

Operational Level

Operational
Managers
Finance

Human Resources

Sales & Marketing

Source: Laudon and Laudon, 2004

The next level is the management level system that supports the monitoring, controlling,
decision-making and administrative activities of the middle managers. At the peak of the
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information systems is the strategic level system that targets longterm planning activities of
senior management of the organization. In terms of functional classification information systems
may also be differentiated by functional specialty as shown in Figure 2.4. Examples of
functional areas are finance, human resource and sales and marketing.

According to Jawadekar (2006), the role of the MIS in an organization or a project can be
compared to the role of heart in the body. The information is the blood and MIS is the heart. In
the body the heart plays the role of supplying pure blood to all the elements of the body
including the brain. The heart works faster and supplies more blood when needed. It regulates
and controls the incoming impure blood, processes it and sends it to the destination in the
quantity needed. It fulfills the needs of blood supply to human body in normal course and also in
crisis. Likewise, the MIS ensures that appropriate data are collected from the various project
components, processed, and sent further to all the needy destinations. The system is expected to
fulfill the information needs of an individual, a group of individuals, the management
functionaries: the managers and the top management of an institution.

The potential benefits from developing MIS applications to support management at the local and
sub-local government administration is great and the greatest impacts are achieved when MIS
applications are proactively created through a collaboration of all stakeholders and crafted as an
administrative, monitoring and evaluation tool. Where data collection and analysis systems are
unavailable, they can and should be designed and implemented at all levels to support
development projects and the various decentralized departments especially within the local
government system.

2.6

The Concept of Participation

According to the World Bank, (1994) Participation is a process through which stakeholders
influence and share control over development initiatives, decisions and resources which affect
them. Participation can take different forms, ranging from information sharing and consultation
methods, to mechanisms for collaboration and empowerment that give stakeholders more
influence and control.
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The theory of participation, however, states that given the opportunity, one would participate in
discussions or actions that affect ones interests. Being concerned with ones own interests, one
also participates in collective initiatives with the hope of achieving gains during the process. This
theory further implies that as the subject (not object) of development, project beneficiaries (not
others) should make decisions about their own destinies (Sirpal, 2010).
2.6.1

Typology of participation

It is essential to know that there are different classification and types of participation and that it is
not a one size fits all principle. Instead, the level and form of participation vary with the
stakeholders capacity to participate on issues that need to be addressed by stakeholders to
manage resources judiciously. Types of participation by stakeholders range from passive
participation, where people are simply told what is going to happen or has happened already, to
active participation, in which people take responsibility for and actively contribute to project
planning, design, and implementation.
2.6.2

Classification of Participation

According to Pretty et al classification system of participation, there are seven distinguish levels
of participation. These ranges from the low level to the high level namely, passive participation,
participation by information giving, participation by consultation, participation for material
incentives, functional participation, interactive participation and self mobilization (Pretty et al
1995)
Self-Mobilization
People participate by taking initiatives independent of external institutions to change systems.
Such self initiated mobilization and collective action may or may not challenge existing
inequitable distributions of wealth and power.

Interactive Participation
People participate in joint analysis, which leads to action plans and the formulation of new local
groups or strengthening of existing ones. It tends to involve interdisciplinary methodologies that
seek multiple perspectives and make use of systematic and structured learning processes. These

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groups take control over local decisions, so people have stake in maintaining structures and
practices.
Functional Participation
People participate by forming groups to meet predetermined objectives related to the
programme, which can involve the development or promotion of externally initiated social
organization. Such involvement does not tend to be at the early stages of programme cycle or
planning but rather decisions have been made elsewhere. These institutions tend to be dependent
on external initiators or facilitators but may become self dependent.
Participation by material Incentives
People participate by providing resources, for example labour in return for food, cash or material
incentives. Such people are not involved in the experimentation and have no stake in maintaining
activities when incentives end.
Participation by Consultations
People participate by being consulted by external agents to elicit views. These external agents
define both problems and solutions, and may modify these in the light of peoples responses.
Such consultative process does not include and share in decision making and professionals are
under no obligations to take onboard peoples views.
Participation in Information Giving
People participate by answering questions posed by extractive researchers and programme
managers using questionnaire survey or similar approaches. People do not have the opportunity
to influence proceedings as the findings of the research programme design are neither shared nor
checked for accuracy.
Passive Participation
People participate by being told what is going to happen or has already happened. It is unilateral
announcement by an administration or programme management without listening to peoples
responses. The information being shared belongs to only external professions.

Given these levels of participation, it is good to know how and to what extent participation can
improve the flow of MSE information from the rural micro entrepreneur to the District Assembly
to inform policy decisions. Again, to what extent can participation empower primary
stakeholders of REP to monitor and evaluate their own activities to improve their business
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growth performance in a sustainable manner? Thus the study seeks to develop participatory
community based management information system for development projects in rural Ghana.

2.7

The Dynamism of Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation (PM&E)

Participatory Monitoring & Evaluation provides an opportunity for development projects to


focus better on their ultimate goal of improving poor people's lives by broadening involvement
in identifying and analyzing change, a clearer picture can be gained of what is really happening
on the ground. It allows people to celebrate successes, and learn from failures and for those
involved, it can also be an empowering process, since it puts them in charge, helps develop
skills, and shows that their views count.
Information gathered from Institute of Development Studies Policy Briefing 12 (1998) indicates
that the heart of PM&E centers around four broad principles:

'Participation' - which means opening up the design of the process to include those most
directly affected, and agreeing to analyze data together;

The inclusiveness of PM&E requires 'negotiation' to reach agreement about what will be
monitored or evaluated, how and when data will be collected and analyzed, what the data
actually means, and how findings will be shared, and action taken;

This leads to 'learning' which becomes the basis for subsequent improvement and corrective
action; and

Since the number, role, and skills of stakeholders, the external environment, and other factors
change over time, 'flexibility' is essential.

The involvement of the beneficiaries is essential and therefore the architect of development
projects needs to design a system of information collection with participation built into it. This
study is not only interested in the official point of view of the community chiefs, project
management and leaders only but also the unofficial view of the local people or the rural
entrepreneurs when they are off duty, and of minorities. There is the need to create situations in
which shy people can be frank, and women can speak without being laughed at, just to mention a
few. The resulting analysis generates lessons that are fed back to improve the project
performance and efficiency. The process is meant to strengthen the organizational capacity of the
participants of the various business associations.
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The PM&E should be carried out by all stakeholders at all levels of the MIS. Each level,
however, has specific objectives for monitoring and evaluating methods and hence their roles.
For PM&E to be effective, there is need for an in - built mechanism of giving feedback to all
stakeholders involved at all levels (community, district, national and donor). In effect,
participatory monitoring and evaluation system is a Management Information System that
provides information for making decision by management.
2.7.1

The three Pillars for effective Participation

As a process whereby key stakeholders; especially, people from the informal sector (mostly
from the communities or project beneficiaries) play a key role in the definition of monitoring and
evaluation objectives, selection of indicators, selection and use of information collection tools,
their interpretation, identification, and implementation of the needed actions for change, three
key pillars are crucial for effective participation. Who participate in the whole process, the
powerful or the most vulnerable groups in the community? Who controls the process? And what
is the nature and level of participation? This is shown in Figure 2.5.
Figure 2.5

The 3 Pillars for effective Participation

Source: IFAD/WARF, 2008

2.7.2

Community Participation in M&E

Community level is where implementation and utilization of the benefits of development projects
take place. In most cases it is at the town and village level where the main purpose of monitoring
and evaluation is to be improved in the implementation and management of project services. The
interest of the business associations or the community as a whole in monitoring and evaluation of
community based skill training, for example, is to ensure that the number of entrepreneurial poor
trained (an output) is being done as planned. The specific objectives for monitoring and
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evaluation at this level therefore include (a) ensuring that the project services are implemented
on time, (b) that they are of good quality and (c) that the project inputs are well utilized.
The M&E process should be identified in a participatory manner to reflect the community needs
and stimulate people's interest in its implementation, monitoring and evaluation. If the process of
project identification is not well done and does not reflect community interests, it is likely that
the communities will not participate in the monitoring and evaluation of the implemented
activities.
According to the World Bank (2002) internal evaluation unit, community- based projects in the
African region have performed better than the regions project as a whole, yet only one in five of
the communitybased development projects were likely to be sustainable. The World Banks
CommunityDriven Development (CDD) team for Africa initiated a project in 18 selected
villages in Africa to help them sustain the results of their community development project. The
rationale behind the project was that communities cannot be independent without developing
their own tools and resources and can achieve and renew their local development goals with or
without significant external assistance. The report indicates that a simple community M&E
system that enhanced the sustainability of community sub projects and the provision of a
handful of indicators to meet certain criteria was developed.
The community based M&E framework adopted by the project reinforces the connections
between the implementation of community development activities, monitoring of these activities,
evaluation of community development, and readjustment or (Re) Appraisal of the local
development indicators, to better suit community development needs (Figure 2.6)
Figure 2.6

Community M&E in the Participatory Process


(Re) Appraisal

Evaluation

Planning

Monitoring
Implementation
Source: World Bank, 2002

20

The team guided the local communities to identify a few indicators that they believe would
indicate a change in the pace of local development.

In the selection of local people to be responsible for the M&E, the communities were asked
about the characteristics they thought M&E people should have, and then ask for nominations of
people possessing those qualities. It is interesting to note here that communities in the west of
Niger, for example, cited availability, an open mind, patience, respect, functional literacy and
honesty as characteristics important for those to be responsible for monitoring and evaluation.

It was generally agreed that only a small group of people (between six and eight) is needed for
communitybased M&E because a large group becomes unwieldy and can perturb the smooth
functioning of community development.

2.8

Developing Performance Indicators

In 1992, the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil drew an
action plan that called on countries, as well as international, governmental and non-governmental
organizations, to develop indicators of sustainable development that can provide a solid basis for
decision-making at all levels including the district and sub-district levels.

Planning activities rely on the indicators for providing guidance. However, the purpose of
planning is not only to develop goals but also to accomplish them. One way to know whether
you have accomplished a goal is to measure performance. According to Gudmundsson (2007) an
indicator does not only measure performances but also performs a number of important
functions. Indicators have the communication function; tell why such a thing is important. They
perform the informative function, how we are doing things and also have the diagnostic function,
telling what is wrong. Last, but not least, indicators have the action function, telling what to do.

According to the Division of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations (2007),
indicators can help make better decisions and more effective actions by simplifying, clarifying
and making aggregated information available to policy makers. They enable us to incorporate
physical and social science knowledge into decision-making, to measure and calibrate progress
21

toward sustainable development goals. Moreover, they can provide an early warning to prevent
economic, social and environmental setbacks. Indicators are also useful tools to communicate
ideas, thoughts and values. Litman (2009) defines indicators as variables that we use to measure
and evaluate progress toward goals and objectives. As such, indicators can help identify trends,
predict problems, assess options, set performance targets, and evaluate a particular jurisdiction or
organization. According to him, indicators are equivalent to senses they determine how things
are perceived and what receives attention. In short, indicators are important tools for making
decisions and measuring progress. They are descriptions or statements of what is monitored or
evaluated to give evidence of project tasks and objectives achievement. The performance
indicators will be necessary to guide the monitoring team, tell how far clients performance has
gone in achieving the objectives of each project activity. The stakeholders or the local business
associations must make some inputs about indicators at activity inception and these indicators
should not be overwhelming but choose a manageable number that can be easily monitored and
used to compare expected results with actual results.

Figure 2.7

Selection and Development of Indicators

Community Based
Skill Training

PM&E Objective

C
I

C
I

Access to training

programme

Quality

No. of participants
Rapid Growth Businesses
Trained
No. of women trained

Source: IFAD/WARF, 2008

The crucial question for organizing the selection and development of indicators is the criteria for
indicators. According to Thomas (2006), the ideal performance indicators must have the
following criteria. First, they must be clear, i.e. performance indices should be simple, well
defined and easily understood. Second, they must be consistent, i.e. the definitions used to
22

produce the indicators should be consistent over time and between units. They must also be
comparable and controllable. The fourth requirement is that they must be comprehensive. For
instance, they must reflect those aspects of behaviour that are important to management decisionmakers. Relevance is another important criterion. Many applications require specific
performance indicators that are relevant to their special needs and conditions.

In addition, criteria and indicators must be feasible, that is, the targets should be based on
realistic expectations and can be reached through reasonable actions. In short, the ideal
performance indicators are those that have clarity, consistency, comparability and controllability,
comprehensiveness, relevance and feasibility. According to International Fund for Agricultural
Development (IFAD), the basic criteria used in most projects and programmes include
accessibility, participation, availability (of service), transparency, quality, equity, relevance,
utilization of service, efficiency and impact (Figure 2.7).
2.9

Baseline and target settings

Once the indicators are identified, the stakeholders should establish baselines and targets for the
level of change they would like to see. The baseline and target should be clearly aligned with the
indicator, using the same unit of measurement. Baseline data establish a foundation from which
to measure change. Without baseline data, it is very difficult to measure change over time or to
monitor and evaluate. With baseline data, progress can be measured against the situation that
prevailed before an intervention. Once the baseline is established, a target should be set. The
target will normally depend on the programme period and the duration of the interventions and
activities.

2.9.1

The SCOPE Project

In 2005, Social Centre of Peoples Education (SCOPE) Trust conducted an evaluation exercise
with participants from the three villages of Kil Thatyapet, Kil Kollai and Kotur Kollai in India.
This exercise was done to identify the kind of indicators/criteria that can be used to monitor
change over the project period. The evaluation tool (Spider Web) that was developed presented a
before and after project situation. All the participants actively participated to indicate the
impact due to the programme interventions using a 110 scale.

23

The spider web diagram shown in Figure 2.8 is also called a cobweb diagram, participation
wheel or an evaluation wheel. It is a highly visual method for analyzing the relative importance
of, or progress on, different aspects of an intervention. This exercise can be done to plan projects,
but particularly to monitor and evaluate them. Each aspect is represented by one arm of the
frame

of

the

web,

and

is

graded

from

110.

It

is

also

possible

to

rank

programme/village/group/individual performance during (monitoring) or at the end (evaluation)


of a programme.

The spider web indicated the impact of the programme in the three villages. The important and
noteworthy change is that all children go to school. Participants tried to quantify some of the
other changes. They estimated that about 50% of the farmers are practicing intercropping
methods. Yield levels have improved from four bags to seven bags per acre. Apart from all this,
they have introduced groundnut for cultivation; this was not grown earlier. Employment
generation on the farm has doubled from an earlier three months to the present six months.
Income level was also reported to have more than doubled, from the land holdings. Besides, the
100 per cent loan repayment by the tribal people has resulted in improved linkages with the
banks. Bank transactions have also shown a drastic increase in the last two years.
Figure 2.8
Spider diagrams showing the criteria identified to depict change by the participants and
their rating: Criteria Before and Criteria After

Source: Karnataka Tamil Nadu, 2005

24

2.10

PM&E of Community Development Projects

There are many definitions of participatory monitoring and evaluation, but perhaps the simplest
is keeping track of changes with the community stakeholders. Estrella et al (2000).
It is a process whereby primary stakeholders (mostly local communities or project/programme
beneficiaries) play a key role in the definition of monitoring and evaluation objectives, selection
of indicators, selection and use of information collection tools, their interpretation, identification,
and implementation of the needed actions for change.
Thus, community participation, (active voluntary engagement of individuals and groups to
change problematic conditions and to influence policies and programs that affect the quality of
their lives or the lives of others) is an important component of PM&E and reflects a grassroots or
bottom- up approach to problem solving.

2.10.1 The case of Chia Se project in Vietnam (2003)


Research has shown that monitoring and evaluation team should agree on how often they should
visit enterprises and clients workshops or work places as a means of verifying what is taking
place and when to evaluate performance. For a community project, to avoid big deviations from
the work plan, monitoring visits should be carried out at least once a month. During the visits,
the monitor should look at what is happening (observe and interact with beneficiary clients) and
talk to everybody that is involved in the project intervention. The monitoring teams should store
the collected data and information well and use it for future actions and to inform other
stakeholders at an agreed forum to analyze and assess performance (client, trade type or
community levels). Monitoring diary that keep records on monitoring reports and other business
information must be kept on each client.

Carefully selected set of qualitative and quantitative indicators, when collectively developed and
appropriately combined, can provide relevant information on wide ranging issues covering the
dynamics of rural poverty at the local level. Such micro-level monitoring mechanisms can also
be made useful tools in the hands of the local policy makers for designing, fine-tuning and
implementing need-base and demand-driven programs at the local community level.
Rylander (2003) expressed in the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) -funded
programme how they developed an approach for supporting local level activities in the poorest
25

communes in six districts (in three provinces - Ha Giang, Yen Bai and Quang Tri) in Vietnam,
through participatory planning and the setting up of local development funds.
Selection of Indicators
This Chia Se project developed their performance indicators in close consultation with relevant
stakeholders and analyzed them from problems on sustainable livelihood using a log frame
format to address the logical relations between activities and outputs leading to poverty
alleviation. This indicator selection was done based on the three types of indicators, qualitative,
quantitative and the timebased. The quantitative indicators are expressed as number e.g. the
number of people attending a specific training, the number of wells constructed the average rice
harvest per hectare, and the cost of fertilizer. Qualitative indicators indicate the quality of
something, and cannot normally be expressed as a number. For example, Womens participation
in decision making in the village planning meeting, or improved working relations among
staff. Because qualitative indicators are hard to measure directly, it may often be necessary to
measure something else instead. For example, instead of measuring improved participation
directly, one can look at the number of meetings organized by the village, how many people
attended, if there were women majority in the meeting, what decisions were made, and who
made them. This kind of information then gives an idea of the increase in participation in
decision-making. Time based indicators signal management when there are problems in the
implementation of certain activities.
Management Information System
In terms of information management, the Chia Se project showed that the way the M&E data
used to manage the project was attributed to the Management Information System (MIS)
developed, that comprises the database and its updating system in the form of format for
reporting and the practical use of it by the project management.

Implementation of project activities was reported on a recurrent basis (as and when they happen),
whereas consolidated analysis of the pace of project implementation was done based on quarterly
progress reports to the relevant management levels. The annual report summarizes achievements
in relation to budgets and output on annual basis.

26

These reports generated from the MIS provide management with timely information showing
how the project is performing according to plans and budgets.
The information fed back from the MIS and the analysis made of it sometimes prompted the
management committee to decide on reallocations that will help increase the overall impact of
the project. Reallocations implied that resources are reduced in implementing activities that
prove to be less effective (unless external factors impede more negatively than expected), and
likewise that resources are increased in areas where demonstrated performance was better than
expected and where there was room for expansion or replication of activities or components. It is
crucial that this type of flexibility is maintained, particularly in the Chia Se, which is
experimental in its strategy and must be totally open for learning at all levels.
Database and data processing were available at the lowest level of project activities; the
information was often summarized, consolidated and analyzed based on the data sheets, regular
reports and other written information collected during certain agreed period. However, when
activities took place in several locations and at different organizational levels (for instance local
provincial national) it was not possible to maintain a manual information system. In order to
provide the necessary overview of the situation in different aspects of the project, data were
structured in ways that allowed for quick and accurate data processing. This implies that
standardization of data reporting was done to allow for computerized processing.
Reporting
The project management system indicated that reporting was done as close as possible to actual
implementation. Moreover, it was done in a fashion that ensured that data were not manipulated
with or biased in any sense, but was objectively reported. The best insurance for this was when a
participatory approach was used, and when it was in the interest of stakeholders to have proper
and accurate information, so that data collection becomes a demand-driven function.
When designing the reporting and management information system, as much as possible
coordination was sought with existing databases. Likewise, alignment with existing
administrative systems and routines was done in order to avoid duplication of efforts or overlap
of work.

27

Conclusion
Conclusions drawn from the Chia Se project revealed that there were a number of impact
indicators that could not be used for management decisions because there were no baseline data
available. Most of them need be set up through a baseline survey of the actual situation, and may
also require action-based research as a special evaluation activity over the project period to
ensure that the impact is reasonably well captured and assessed.

2.11

Geographic Information System as Decision Support Tool for Local Governance

Geographic Information System (GIS) can play an important role as a tool in increasing the
efficiency and effectiveness of planning and decision-making. It is important to note that in this
study, GIS should be seen as part of the information management within the organizational
context of the local government. GIS should not be restricted to a department where maps are
made but should function as supportive information systems both within the institution and the
citizenry.

Laudon and Laudon (2002:413) define GIS as a Decision Support System that can analyze and
display data for planning and decision making using digitized maps. The software can assemble,
store, manipulate and display geographically referenced information, typing data to points, lines
and areas on a map. If the map would indicate communities in the district where exceptionally
high revenue are outstanding on district assembly accounts, the graphical representation would
assist the district authorities in identifying and focusing resources effectively in these areas, to
try and increase revenue generation.

The combination of a Geographical Information System and a Management Information System


provides a system where most data that are generated, can be integrated and presented in a
predetermined spatial format. This information can be accessible to all decision makers on a
tactical and operation level within local government system, to assist in making more informed
decisions.
This enables management to focus on revenue collection strategies for specific areas, and not
waste time and money in areas where non-payment is not an issue.

28

Figure 2.9

GIS as Decision Support Tool


Information
System
Management
System

Management
Information System

Decision Support
System

Executive Information
System

Geographic Information
System
Source: OBrien, 2004

As a decision support tool, GIS offers spatial data management and analysis tools that can assist
users in organizing, storing, editing, analyzing, and displaying positional and attribute
information about geographical data (Burrough, 1986). However, Sauter (1997) defines Decision
Support Systems (DSS) as computer-based systems that bring together information from a
variety of sources, assist in the organization and analysis of information. A working definition of
DSS was provided by Turban (1995) as an interactive, flexible and adaptable computer-based
information system, specially developed for supporting the solution of a particular management
problem for decision making as shown in Figure 2.9. It utilizes data, and provides easy user
interface, and it allows for the decision-makers own insight.
These definitions clearly show that the use of Geographic Information Systems is an area where
spatial technologies can play a key role by generating timely and reliable information for
planning and decision-making at all levels of governance. The use of GIS for monitoring and
evaluating rural micro and small scale enterprises for planning and implementation of policy
decisions is inevitable as one can link the physical location with data collected from that
location. It is interesting to note that with the right set of data it is easy to query the attribute
table to locate a point and assess information (video, text etc) to influence decision making.
It is therefore appropriate to introduce GIS into the Local Government System of Ghana to
provide an overview of the physical locations of rural micro enterprises. As development
partners, the private sector can be closely monitored by the decision makers to develop the local
29

economy. The use of Geographic Information System can improve policy formulation, access to
relevant information on time to influence decision making at Asuogyaman District Assembly.

2.12

The structure of the Local Government System in Ghana

The Local Government System in Ghana is made up of a Regional Coordinating Council,


Metropolitan and Municipal/District Assemblies. A District Assembly (DA) consists of the
district chief executive, two thirds of the members directly elected by universal adult suffrage,
the members of parliament (MPs) representing constituencies within the district, and not less
than 30% of the members appointed by the President in consultation with chiefs and interest
groups in the district. The District Chief Executive is nominated by the President, approved by
two-thirds of the members of the DA present and voting, and appointed by the president. The
assembly has a presiding member who is elected from among its members by two-thirds of all
the members of the assembly. The functions of the District Assemblies, according to section 10
(3) of Act 463 among others, are responsible for the overall development of the district and shall
ensure the preparation and submission through the Regional Coordinating Council for approval
of the development plan to the commission and budget to minister of finance for the district and
formulate and execute plans, programmes and strategies for the effective mobilisation of the
resources necessary for the overall development of the district.
Districts
The 10 regions have been subdivided into 170 districts, of which three are metropolitan districts
and municipal districts. The Districts of Ghana forms the third level administrative subdivisions
of Ghana as shown in figure 2.10. The ordinary districts have urban councils, town councils, and
area councils under them. The metropolitan districts have been divided into a number of submetropolitan districts, which were further subdivided into town councils. The municipal districts
have further been divided into zones. Unit committees were the lowest level of local government,
subsidiary to all of the entities already mentioned.
Town/Area Council
These are found in the metropolitan assemblies and District Assemblies (DAs). In the DAs, town
councils are established for settlements with populations between 1500 and 5000. Area councils
exist for a number of settlements /villages which are grouped together but whose individual
settlements have populations of less than 5000. They cover areas with predominantly rural
30

populations and in some cases can be identified with spheres of influence of a particular
traditional authority. They are essentially rallying points of local enthusiasm in support of a new
local government system.
Unit Committees
A unit is normally a settlement or a group of settlements with a population of between 5001000
in the rural areas, and a higher population (1500) for the urban areas. Unit committees being in
close touch with the people play the important roles of education, organisation of communal
labour, revenue-raising and ensuring environmental cleanliness, registration of births and deaths,
implementation and monitoring of self-help projects, among others.

Figure 2.10

Local Government Structure in Ghana

Metropolitan

Municipal

Districts

Sub Metropolitan
District Councils

Zonal Councils
Town Councils

Urban /Town/Area
Councils

Unit Committees
Source: Bandie, 2007

Information management is a key component for making effective policy decisions on micro and
small scale enterprises promotion in the district to improve rural community livelihoods.
However, the new local government structure under the decentralization has not adequately
equipped District Assemblies to generate data/information enough for management policy
decision. Consequently, local government policy decisions on growth performance of rural micro
enterprises are inadequate. Both vertical and horizontal flow of MSE information from the
community to the policy makers and among departments at the District Assembly cannot support
effective management in this information age.
A participatory strategy for developing a decentralized management information system at the
local government and the community levels has been initiated for further improvement. Local
31

capacity for generating data and information has been designed and built to support management
decision.
2.13

Conceptual Framework

It illustrates how MSE development projects can be monitored and evaluated through active
participation by the community. The outcome is thus channeled through the sub-districts to
district administration authorities and Project Management to take prudent decisions to improve
rural MSE development to reduce poverty in the district. This is supported by a functional
computerized management information system. Figure 2.11 shows a logical flow of Community
Participation in managing MSE information to promote off-farm rural enterprises, through the
creation of new and strengthening of existing businesses in the district.
Figure 2.11

Conceptual Framework

Model of indicators definition presented to


participants based on project goals

Validate and brainstorm indicators with


trained Participants and adopt few

Baseline Assessment of Clients on


indicators before intervention

Set Performance Targets with trained


participants

Monitor Outputs and short term Outcomes


with team from the community
(Re) Appraised Performance indicators with
trained participants

Team meets on Monitoring Results to


evaluate individual growth performance

Evaluate Performance Results by Project


Management and District Assembly

Report and engage decision makers on


Project results

Source: Authors Construct, 2011

32

Looking at the literacy level of participants, a model set of indicators is presented for discussion
immediately after receiving project intervention. As facilitators of the forum, the clients
monitoring team would take the lead role. A model set of indicators is presented to serve as a
guide to the trainees (beneficiaries) that can be adopted, changed or modified in such a way that
the outcomes (i.e. the refined set of performance indicators), will be able to keep track of set
targets to achieve project goals.
Baseline information on clients based on the new indicator definitions are taken at this forum
against which performance would be measured overtime. After finalizing, a list of indicators
(few) that would be adopted by the group would be used to monitor progress and targets set for
each indicator.
Data collection and analysis is done in a participatory manner (led by the team) involving the
clients (who had earlier received the project intervention) in monitoring. All stakeholders must
be abreast of progress and make suggestions for course of corrections after deliberating on
monitoring results.
Once this information is brought for performance evaluation and analysis, appraisal and (re)
appraisal, performance indicators and targets can be modified to improve business growth
performance. This is an iterative cycle that could be repeated throughout a projects life cycle.
The final stage in PCBMIS is to share information on project results with policy and decision
makers, communities and the public at large through multiple channels. Reporting is not seen as
an end in itself, but rather as an invitation to dialogue with donor communities.
Concepts
In the study, certain key words or concepts were discussed and there was the need to ensure
clarity of issues in the study;
Business Advisory Centre (BAC)
This is a centre set up by the Project based on a tripartite arrangement between the District
Assembly, National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) and Rural Enterprises Project on a
cost sharing basis. The centre provides services to project clients at the local and community
level including business counseling; community based skill training, small business management
33

training and financial support to project clients among others. Database of all project clients and
other stakeholders are kept at the BAC office.
MSE sub-committee on Development
This is a subcommittee of the Executive Committee by the Government in all Metropolitan,
Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to be responsible for all MSE activities at the
district level. This is a collaborative effort of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural
Development, Ministry of Trade and Industries and the Rural Enterprises Project to institute a
mechanism to manage and harmonize the proliferation of project ad-hoc committees which fizzle
out after the end of the project and therefore not sustainable. The main function of this
committee among others is to ensure the coordination of all public and private sector initiatives
and programmes related to the development and promotion of MSEs in the district to achieve
synergy and better results. This sub-committee is also responsible to align all initiatives,
programmes and activities related to MSE development with the Districts overall development
programme.
The main role of the Sub Committee on MSE promotion is to focus on the optimal performance
of all initiatives on the development and growth of micro and small enterprises in the entire
district to support business establishment, employment creation and improve the livelihood of
local communities.
Local Business Associations
Local Business Associations (LBAs) are recognized as important partners in the delivery of
sustainable Business Development Services (BDS) at the district level. Training programmes are
therefore organized to build their capacity to manage the associations and provide useful services
to their members. The LBAs are also provided with platforms to discuss issues that hamper
business development with relevant agencies through the organization of round table meetings.
Scoring System
For consistency and easy comparison of results, a common scoring system is developed for the
assessment of output, outcome and impact performance of project clients based on the agreed set
of indicators. The scoring level proposed has five levels of grading. These are

Significant improvement (Very Good)

2
34

Improvement (Good)

No Change

Deterioration (Poor)

-1

Need serious attention (Very Poor)

-2

The aggregate score will produce a business growth performance of the concerned client. The
outcome will determined the kind of business counseling that can be given to the client. This is a
form of feedback mechanism introduced by the study.

35

CHAPTER THREE
Research Methodology and Data Collection
3.0

Introduction

A case study method was used for the study. This is to arrive at certain conclusions regarding the
application of digital technology to manage information on micro and small scale enterprise
development projects by the District Assembly. With E Governance Policy in Ghana that
allows the public to participate in the information age and to utilize the internet, it was necessary
to adopt this research design in order to examine the utilization of MIS at District Assemblies.
Community participation in monitoring and evaluation of development projects were critically
examined. The use of the case study method also permitted an assessment of beneficiaries of the
Rural Enterprises Project adoption of the bottomup approach to project management that allows
local people to own development projects.
The ultimate goal of this research method was that the research outcomes would contribute to
the sustainability of MSE development projects, community ownership and a change that would
allow the different stakeholders contribute to the overall planning process.
3.1

Data Collection Methods

The two main sources of data obtained for the study were primary and secondary sources.
3.1.1

Primary Sources

In the collection of primary data, structured questionnaires were used together with formal
interviews with some selected respondents. The sampled participants from the District Assembly
for this study were chosen based on the identification of institutional role played by identified
decentralized departments on MSE growth promotions. It consisted mainly of the senior
personnel officers of the District Assembly who were involved with the integrated development
planning process, such as the District Planning Officer, District Budget Officer, Heads of
Departments, etc. At some instances the questionnaires tended to be interview guides as some of
the officers were willing to respond to the questions in the questionnaires in the presence of the
researcher for some explanations. Thus, this approach provided more in-depth discussions with
the respondents.
The other categories of primary respondents included in the sample survey are the five main
trade categories under the Rural Enterprises Project.
36

AgroProcessing
This includes all micro and small scale enterprises within the study area that benefited from the
Rural Enterprises Project support in the following trade areas namely processing of fruits into
fruit drink, etc; oil palm production, soap making; processing of maize into maize flour, dough,
etc; processing of cassava into gari and other products and processing of cocoa waste products
into various high value by-products.
Primary Fabrication and Repair
This category of clients comprises all rural MSEs engaged in artisanal trade for a living. They
promote the use of appropriate technology transfer to the rural communities through master
craftsmen and apprentices under the following trade areas, welding and fabrication of farm
implements and agro-processing equipment; auto machining; auto spraying; electronics and
electrical works; carpentry and vulcanizing, etc
Traditional Crafts

Traditional craft involves people who are engaged in pottery, handicrafts, basket weaving; textile
weaving, batik tie and dye production and leather works.
Service Enterprises
This category of clients comprises all rural MSEs engaged in the provision of services to the
general public for a living. They included dressmaking, hairdressing and also traditional catering
or chop bar operators.
Agricultural and Forest Products
As a unit of investigation, these categories of project clients were also targeted for engaging
themselves in offfarm activities to support their living. This includes rural community people
who were involved in snail farming; grass cutter rearing, rabbit rearing, bee keeping, and
mushroom farming.

3.1.2

Secondary Sources

In the case of secondary data, a desk study was used to gather data from both local and foreign
sources that were relevant to community participation in monitoring and evaluation of
development projects. It included a systematic review of relevant literature of textbooks,
institutional and constitutional publications, academic journals, periodicals, workshop resource
materials, seminars and conference papers. A review of documents (letters, and progress reports)
37

and archival records (Service records, organizational charts, budgets etc.) was also undertaken as
the source of secondary data.
A regular search on the Internet was seriously considered to identify some relevant secondary
data necessary for the study.
3.2

Sample size (n) Determination

3.2.1

Formula

n =

1 + N () 2
Where N = Population size
= level of Precision

The sample size for the studies was calculated using the above formula where n is the sample
size, N is the population size under consideration and is the level of precision or sampling
error. Using an error margin of 7% and a population of 219 a sample size of 106 was obtained.

n =

1 + N () 2
=

219
1 + 219 (0.07)2

105.6

106

In all a total of 13 out of 15 communities, according to the BAC database, that have received
project intervention were randomly sampled for the study. A total number of 209 active
businesses were found in the BAC client database and 10 people from the District Assembly
formed the population out of which 106 were sampled for the study, eight response from the
district assembly and 98 from project clients.

38

3.3

Target Population and the Sampling size

Target Population
The population targeted for the study included all active clients found in the BAC database of the
Asuogyaman district (Table 3.1).
Table 3.1

Sample Frame and Sample size for Project Clients

TRADE TYPE
START-UP NORMAL
SURVIVAL RAPID
Agro - Processing
3
2
45
Services
13
5
73
Primary Fabrication & Repairs
30
2
9
Traditional Craft
0
1
3
Agric and Forest Product
1
2
20
Grand Totals
47
12
150

Totals
0
0
0
0
0
0

50
91
41
4
23
209

Source: Authors Construct, 2011

Those classified as start-up by REP definitions, are the newly trained clients who have just
started business, normal are those who have successfully operated their business between one
and two years. Clients under survival are those in operation between two and four while rapid
clients are above four years in active business.
Sampling Methods
In designing a suitable sampling frame for the surveys consideration was given to the appropriate
definition of the population from which samples were drawn or taken. This was done by
analyzing the subjects of the study Staff of the District Assembly including Project staff.
Project beneficiaries who were distributed (physical locations) within the Asuogyaman district
were included. In all a total sample size of 106 was used for the study.

Project beneficiaries
Conscious effort was made to include the rural communities in the sample to ensure a fair
representation of the population of interest across the entire district. Relevant information about
the types and distribution of project beneficiaries was obtained from the Business Advisory
Center (BAC). A multistage sampling design was used. At the first stage, simple random
sampling was used to select the communities visited. The next stage was to group the clients into
the five trade categories (strata).

39

After the grouping, respondents were selected under each stratum using Probability Proportional
to Size (PPP), to select a total of 100 MSEs from the randomly selected 13 communities.

Selected Sample
It was decided to include clients who can be in the best position to possess all characteristics
which would ensure certain managerial and decision making experience. This would enable them
to relate to the questionnaire better. To avoid bias and over concentration in the selection target
respondents communities were randomly selected (Table 3.2). They are made up all clients
engaged in the five business categories. Each category has been classified into Start-up, Normal,
Survival and Rapid growth.
Table 3.2: Distribution of Respondents in the Communities
START-UP NORMAL SURVIVAL Total

Aboasa
Akosombo
Akrade
Kwanyako
Atimpoku
Frankadua
Senchi
Tusker
Gyakiti
Nudu
Adomi
Akwamufie
Anum Boso
Total

2
2
2
8
3
0
1
2
0
1
1
1
2
25

0
5
3
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
1
10

8
8
5
2
7
10
9
8
1
0
4
1
2
65

10
15
10
10
10
10
10
10
1
2
5
2
5
100

Source: Authors Construct, 2011

Those classified as start-up are the newly trained clients, who have just started business; normal
are those who have operated between one and two years. Clients under survival are those in
operation between two and four while rapid clients above four years in operation.

Staff of District Assembly


A purposive sampling was used in the selection of the departments of Community Development,
Department of Cooperative, Non-Formal Education Department, Revenue collection Unit of the
40

District Assembly, District Planning Office, District Budget office, District Finance Office and
the Business Advisory Centre for the study. These departments were selected because they were
considered as critical for the development of the Micro Small scale Enterprises (MSE) in the
district. The level of involvement in MSEs issues in these entities was required to answer some
questions of how well the integration of these departments in the development of a Community
Based Management Information System.

3.4

Designing and Pre-testing of Survey Instruments

3.4.1

Design of Survey Instrument

The development of the questionnaire and the preliminary set of questions went through many
drafts before it was put into a form for face to-face administration. The questionnaire was
distributed to a sample of five respondents for pre-testing at the Kwabre District Assembly.
Based on feedback received the questionnaire was further modified. The survey instrument
comprised two sets of questionnaires, one for project beneficiaries and the other for staff of the
District Assembly. The questions were put under thematic areas including information resources,
community participation in project monitoring and evaluation, information management and
revenue generation. The questionnaire was accompanied by a cover letter which described the
objectives of the study, assured the respondents of confidentiality of the information provided
and requested for honesty in answering the questions (see Appendix 1). The survey was
conducted between January and February, 2011.

3.4.2

Pre-testing of Survey Instrument

Two sets of questionnaires (District Assembly staff including Project staff and a cross section of
Project beneficiaries) were prepared each focusing on specific targeted objective. After editing,
all questionnaires were printed. A pretest of the questionnaires was conducted at Kwabre district
of the Ashanti region where some district assembly staff, BAC staff and some MSE operators
were interviewed to assess the frequency of errors and the accuracy of data expected. It also
enabled the researcher to test the suitability of the questions, the adequacy of the instructions
provided, the appropriateness of the format and sequence of questions. Some corrections were
made to questionnaires and the final version printed out. Initial contacts were made to the target
groups through the staff at the Business Advisory Center of the district assembly.
41

3.4.3

Administration of Survey Instrument

The methods of data collection were both formal and informal, (but structured) interviews for the
collection of primary data. Data gathered were largely qualitative, but included some quantitative
data as well.
Interview
A total of 15 questionnaires were sent to the District Assembly. Out of the eight respondents, six
were interviewed personally in order to clarify possible misunderstandings and prompt for more
complete answers where necessary. The other respondents chose to complete the questionnaires
in private, with the option of contacting the researcher for clarification where necessary.
In the case of the crosssection of project beneficiaries, enumeration was done by five trained
national service personnel on oneonone basis. Sampled respondents were interviewed at the
business premises resulting in 98% response rate.

3.5

Data Analysis and Findings

3.5.1

Editing and Coding

The role of the editing process was to identify omissions, ambiguities, and errors in the responses
and to produce a data set that the computer can work with. The researcher together with the field
officers edited the questionnaires as and when they returned from the field. The few problems
that were identified were corrected and where practicable the respondents were re-contacted.
Coding followed after the completion of the editing
3.5.2

Data Analysis

The data collected were then analyzed in response to the problems posed in chapter 1 of this
study. The fundamental objectives drove the collection of the data and the subsequent data
analysis. Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) was first used to establish
relationship between variables of data which were then grouped in summarized frequency
distribution. The research objective was to reverse the prevailing topdown with a more
community participatory bottomup approach to project management. This is supported by a
functional Management Information System. These objectives were accomplished. The findings
presented in the next chapter demonstrate the potential for merging theory and practice.
42

CHAPTER FOUR
Managing Micro and Small Scale Enterprise Information at Asuogyaman District
Assembly for Policy Decisions
4.1

Introduction

Private sector development has become an integral part of Ghana's economic development
strategy since the country embarked on its structural adjustment program (SAP) in 1983. Private
sector development involves the improvement of the investment climate and the enhancing of
basic service delivery. It is considered as one of the necessary factors, by individuals, for
sustaining and expanding businesses, stimulating economic growth, and reducing poverty
(Arthur, 2006). To realize the full implication of the saying that the private sector is the engine of
growth, and to achieve sustainable development, wealth creation, and employment in the district,
decision makers must be concerned with the activities of MSE operations and provide the
necessary support to manage their businesses.
This chapter analyses the current application of information systems at the various levels of
operations and management of rural micro enterprises in the district. Data collected from the
core district assembly staff were analyzed to identify the information gap between the operations
of Micro and Small Scale Enterprises in the district and the district authorities. Responses from
interviews conducted on project beneficiaries were also analyzed to expose the weakness in the
current M&E system used by the Rural Enterprises Project in the district in the promotion of
MSEs.

4.1

Background of Asuogyaman District

The Asuogyaman District was established by the local government instrument LI 1431 of 1988
under a government programme which sought to enhance decentralization and promote
participatory democracy and grassroots development. The District was created from the defunct
Kaoga District, which had Somanya as the capital in the Eastern Region (Figure 4.1). The
former Kaoga District covered a large expanse of territory, inhabited by Krobos , Akwamus,
Osudokus, Guans(Anum and Boso), and Ewes. Development in the defunct Kaoga District was
concentrated in and around Somanya - Odumase leaving other areas including settlements in the
Asuogyaman District deprived. The Kaoga district was too large to manage and so it was
divided into three districts namely; Yilo, Manya Krobo and Asuogyaman District.
43

The name Asuogyaman is an Akan word which comes from the fusion of Asuogya and Oman
which literally means river bank state. This is because all the major towns in the district
namely, Akosombo, Atimpoku, Gyakiti, Senchi, New Akrade, Akwamufie, Anum, Boso etc. are
located on either banks of the Volta Lake Figure 4.2.
The district is a seat of important national infrastructure and architectural landmarks, the
countrys largest hydroelectric dam provides electricity for the nation and the suspension bridge
over the Volta at Adomi which links the eastern parts of the country with the Volta region. The
inland port at Akosombo facilitates transportation of goods and people to and from Akosombo
and the northern regions of the country.
Figure 4.1

Asuogyaman District in Regional Context

Source: Department of Geography and Resource Development University of Ghana

44

Figure 4.2

Map of Asuogyaman District showing the Major Settlements

Source: Authors Construct, 2011

4.2

Micro Enterprises in the District

The economy of Asuogyaman district just like any typical district in Ghana is agrarian, thus the
district depends heavily on agriculture in terms of employment, food security and income.
However, the agricultural sector is facing a number of challenges. The seasonality of the sector
does not make it possible for people to be employed all the year round and this has affected the
income of farmers making the farming sub sector almost unattractive to the youth. This situation
continues to affect the poverty situation of the majority of the people especially those who live in
the rural communities of the district. It is against this backdrop that REP has targeted the
entrepreneurial rural poor to equip them with a means of livelihood during the off season to
augment the farm produce. These calls for research into the current operations of MSEs in the
district to assist them monitor and evaluate their own business growth performance.
45

In the study sample from the five trade categories as defined in chapter 3, District Assembly
staffs, including REP field officers were included in the analysis. Thus, data used in the analysis
were based on responses from the above mentioned respondents through questionnaires using
both formal and informal interviews.
Figure 4.3

The five Main Trade Categories

Number of Respondents

40
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
Response

Agro Processing
24

Agric and
Forest Product
12

Services
39

Primary
Fabrication and
11
Repairs

Traditional
Craft
12

Source: Authors Construct, 2011

Figure 4.3 shows the general trade type of respondents. It can be seen that 39.8% and 24.5%
respectively belong to the services and agroprocessing categories. About 12 people each
respectively representing 12.2% were of the traditional craft and agricultural and forest product
categories. It is interesting to note here that eight traditional craft entrepreneurs who had not been
trained by the project were also interviewed. Also 11 of them fell in the primary fabrication and
repairs category. The implication is that majority of the targeted respondents in the district were
engaged in the services sector which was mainly made up of hairdressers and dressmakers.

4.3

Managing MSEs Information for Decision Making

Management information system does not run on mere data but instead processed data that can
serve different organizational and managerial levels. That is why most information systems are
custom-made to fit the unique characteristics of each functional area within an organization and
for better coordination and integration.

46

Accessibility to information and strategic use of information enable local government authorities
become better decision-makers and lead their districts to achieve their developmental goals.
Relevant and timely information management allows heads of decentralized departments make
accurate decisions. They must therefore be aware of what information they require, how to
acquire it and how to maximize the use of it in order to be abreast with the use of information
technology in today's information and knowledge based economy.
4.3.1

Management Information Needs

The important decision making areas should be identified, and within them the management
decision areas delineated. Information needs at each management level have to be appreciated in
the context of defined roles. The study revealed that management at various levels needs
different kinds of information from the trade associations of rural MSE levels to the
decentralized departmental levels. In order to plan for development of MSE at the district and the
sub district levels, information users including target project beneficiaries, planners or managers,
policy makers and resource allocators have to determine the type of information system that can
produce what they need. Planners, for example, need information about why certain trade areas
are under performing in the midst of a community with sizeable amount of material and human
resources. This same information is important to the community development officer.
Invariably, this information when collected, processed, stored can be retrieved for decision
making purposes so as to bring socio-economic development to the entire district. Tables 4.1
and 4.2 give a picture of information requirements of the various management levels i.e. both the
rural enterprises level in the communities and the policy decision makers level at the district
assembly.
Table 4.1:

Enterprise Level Management Information Needs (n=98)


Primary Information Needs
Number Percentage
Customers and Market

34

39.00%

Raw Materials and Market

36

41.30%

Customers and Raw Materials

17

19.80%

Total

86

100.00%

Source: Field Survey, 2011

The rural entrepreneurial poor are always thinking of the supply of raw materials, the reliability,
quality, pricing and whether suppliers offer credit terms or not. Are customers fickle or steady?
Will they pay on credit or at the time of delivery? How strong are they financially? Knowing the
47

answers to these questions help the businessman determine not only whether a market is
profitable but provides additional useful information for pricing, marketing and product offering
(McKinney, 2008).
It was clear from table 4.1 that 36 of the local micro enterprise operators representing 41.3%
claimed that, as managers of their own businesses their two primary information needs were raw
materials and market facilities. The small capital base of the rural entrepreneurial poor is not
enough to buy more raw materials for production and where to sell their finished products.
This was followed closely by 34 respondents whose main concern was the availability of
customers to patronize their product and marketing (39.0%). Marketing of produce was of great
concern to the small business operators. Respondents complained of competition of their local
products with the cheap imported ones, especially among the soap and batik, tie & dye
producers. The least is information on customers and raw materials (19.8%). Majority have to
travel to Atimpoku or Akosombo to sell their produce which tends to increase production cost.
This clearly shows that at the enterprise level the sources of raw materials and the availability of
customers are of great concern if they want to keep their businesses running during the off
farm season.

Healthy decisions can therefore be made on these issues to improve the business growth
performances at this level of management. At the District Assembly some departments are
directly concerned with community developments and are constantly in need of information
about the local people. Mobilizing MSE operators to form cooperatives is of great concern of the
Department of Cooperative. Non formal department would like to know illiterates among MSE
operators so as to organize basic bookkeeping to manage their businesses. Revenue department
needs information on activities of MSE operators to assist revenue mobilization for the district.
The District Planning Officer requires information on the distribution of MSE district-wide so as
to plan infrastructural development, e.g. provision of markets. The Business Advisory Center of
the Assembly is always thinking of how to organize community based skills training for MSE
operators. This calls for MSE information resource base that can serve the needs of these
departments.

48

At the district level management (75%) of the total respondents said their primary information
needs border on administrative issues. This is not surprising because the District Assembly is the
highest administrative body in the district.

Table 4.2: District Management Level Information Needs

Primary Information Needs


Community development
Illiteracy rate
Development Projects
Disbursement of District Assembly Common Fund

Frequency
4
3
3
4

% of Respondents
50%
38%
38%
50%

Revenue generation
Community Based Skill Training
Small Business Management Training
Support to MSE Organization & Partnership
Building
Rural Financial Services
Co - operative society development
Technology Promotion and Support to Apprentice
Training
Sub - district structural developments
Traditional authorities
Administrative issue

4
2
2
2

50%
25%
25%
25%

3
2
2

38%
25%
25%

2
1
6

25%
13%
75%

Source: Field Survey, 2011

This is followed by information on community development, disbursement of District Assembly


Common Funds and revenue generation at 50% respectively. The study also indicated that 38%
of the respondents were primarily concerned with illiteracy rate in the district. Information on
support to MSE operations and partnership building to empower and strengthened local trade
associations, rural financial services and development projects issues in the district, also recorded
38% (Table 4.2). The other primary information requirements of the respondents were co
operative society development, community based skills training, technology promotion and
support to apprentice training, Small Business and Management Training and sub District
structural development representing 25% respectively. The least primary information
requirement of the respondents was about issues concerning traditional administration (13%).

49

This result was clearly an indication that different levels of management required different
information for the same functional areas. Because no two organizations have exactly the same
objectives, structures or interest, information system must be customized to fit the unique
characteristic of each level of management. However, the ultimate target is good information for
policy formulation and decision making.

4.4

MSE INFORMATION DISSEMINATION

Communicating information is the completion point in the data processing systems. According to
Barton (1995), as much as information communication takes place between two geographical
locations, data collected at the lower levels can be used to generate more than one kind of
information subject to empirical analyses. Information on the activities of rural micro enterprises
must reached the district authorities to influence policy decisions that influence their operations.
Overview of IT Equipment at District Assembly
The study revealed that the available IT equipment that meet the requirement from the six
departments interviewed and the required number needed but not available can be seen in Table
4.3. Out of the 13 computers required, six of them being laptops, for field work are not available.
None of the decentralized departments was connected to the internet. It is clear from the study
that the basic IT equipment in the individual departments and units of the Assembly were simply
inadequate to enhance efficient MSE information dissemination.
Table 4.3

Available IT Equipment Situation at District Assembly

Quantity that meets


Requirement
Type of Equipment
Computer
13
Internet (not modem)
8
Photocopier
6
Printer
7
Digital Camera
6
Projector
5
Telephone (intercom)
6

Required no. but not


available
6
5
5
4
5
4
4

Source: Field Survey, 2011

Table 4.4 shows that the major difficulty in the current system used in managing MSE
information in the Asuogyaman District was lack of information technology equipment (75%).
50

Another difficulty confronting the Assembly was the unavailability of IT professionals (63%) to
manage the few IT facilities at the various departments of the Assembly. Further, problems that
were encountered in the management of MSE information include lack of technical know- how
(50%) and staff not ready (38%) to learn new ways of doing things with digital technology.
Table 4.4

Reasons for inefficiency in MSE information Management at District


Assembly (n=8)

Frequency
5
6
4

Lack of IT professionals
lack of IT equipment
Lack of technical know how
Staff not ready to learn

% of Respondents
63%
75%
50%

38%

Source: Field Survey, 2011

4.4.1

Factors affecting Information Dissemination

It was revealed from the analysis that factors that affect MSE information dissemination was
based on the assumption that the under listed, (Table 4.5), are those from which one can learn a
great deal about issues of central importance to the purpose of the study. The results showed that
majority (75%) of the respondents agreed that lack of integration among departments especially
the Business Advisory Center (BAC) was a key factor affecting MSE information dissemination
at the Assembly. Access to direct telephone lines at the various offices was also considered as a
strong factor that slowed down information dissemination at the District Assembly. It was further
established that that lack of inservice training in information technology was not a key factor
that affects dissemination of information at the District Assembly.
Table 4.5

Factors that affect dissemination of MSE information

(Management Level n=8)


Categories of Factors

Strongly
agree

Lack of adequate information when needed


Lack of skills & knowledge in information
technology
Lack of integration among departments/
units especially BAC
Lack of in-service training on IT

No access to internet at office

3
4

No access to direct telephone lines at office

Agree

Undecided

Disagree

2
2

3
3

2
1

5
1
1
1

6
3
2
1
2

Nature of information flow (vertical


/horizontal)

51

1
5

Strongly
disagree

2
2
1

Type of information source available


Management style of Heads of Dept./units
Job complexity and ambiguity

5
3
3

1
2
1

1
2

Source: Field Survey, 2011

With so much importance attached to information, respondents were asked the means they used
in exchange or dissemination of information to other departments or units in the Assembly. The
outcome is presented in the Table 4.6
Table 4.6

Means of Information Dissemination by Assembly Staffs (n = 8)


Frequency
% of Respondents
Intranet (LAN)

0%

Internet (WAN)

13%

Telephone

38%

Personal delivery (Hardcopy)

88%

Personal delivery (Pen drives)

50%

Source: Field Survey, 2011

Table 4.6 indicates that out of the eight officers interviewed, seven of them said the means by
which they exchange information between their office and other departments was by personal
delivery which can be either hard copy (88%) or soft copy on pen drives (50%). The other means
of disseminating information were by telephones (38%). The standard telephone systems in the
main assembly though typically analog in nature had been put into intercom connectivity to
facilitate voice communication only within the main assembly.
The most reliable means of disseminating information, the internet (13%) was used by the BAC
to disseminate information to the Project Head office. It serves as a global information database
that provides access to all kinds of information required by all class of people to guide and
support their decisions.
However, the intranet that facilitates internal dissemination of information was totally absent. At
the District Assembly it was established that the major means of disseminating information was
by personal delivery, i.e. by hand delivery, (hard copy; printed material or hand written, and soft
copy on external memory drive). This means of disseminating information is not reliable and
timely. The outcome of this is that some information which might need urgent response will be
delayed if the person supposed to deliver the information and the person to receive the

52

information are not readily available. This has its own consequences on the image of the
Assembly.
At the enterprise level (Table 4.7), the two main identified factors that influence dissemination of
MSE information were lack of adequate information when needed and the nature of information
flow (vertical or horizontal). This implies that information flow from assembly to the association
leaders down to the apprentice level is at its lowest level or among master-craft persons
(Masters). It is therefore not surprising that 88% of the clients respondents said their concern
has never been addressed by the General Assembly. Only 12% said their concern has been
addressed by the assembly through the Business Advisory center. It was the distribution of startup kits by REP through the assembly and the fixing of income tax.
Table 4.7

Factors that affect dissemination of MSE information


(Enterprise Level; n=98)
Strongly Agree
Undecided
agree
Type of information source available
6
13
19
Nature of information flow
9
36
26
Management style of colleague
entrepreneurs
Job complexity and ambiguity
lack of adequate information when
needed
lack of skills and knowledge in
information technology
Lack of in - service training in IT
No access to internet facility
Source: Field Survey, 2011

Disagree Strongly
disagree
38
12
11
8

30

16

34

3
3

17
41

40
13

18
6

10
23

22

27

29

5
6

18
25

26
20

23
5

17
33

Through further interaction with the respondents, it came to light that the reason for most of
them using the mobile phone was because of its affordability. Some further explained that they
easily got their orders from their customers via the phone. Others even said they received calls
from their customers inquiring about their availability at the various shops before they come.
Table 4.8 (a total of 70 respondents) shows that majority of the respondents said they currently
use mobile phones (89%) in their business enterprises. The use of Automated Teller Machine
(10%) was not common among the respondents probably because most rural and community
banks do not use this technology. The use of the personal computer (1%) was the least
technology among the respondents in their business enterprises.
53

Table 4.8 ICT Equipment commonly used by Project Clients (n = 70)


Response
Frequency
Percent
Mobile Phone only

62

89%

Mobile Phone & ATM

69

99%

ATM Card only

10%

Computer only

1%

63

90%

Computer & Mobile Phone

Source: Field Survey, 2011

4.5

CURRENT MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEM

Management information systems (MIS) are essential for public sector


Organizations seeking to support the work of managers yet little attention are paid to it. This
section looks at the current system of information management at the Asuogyaman District
Assembly.

4.5.1

Acquisition of Primary Information Needs

In terms of acquiring information needs to speed up operations in the Assembly, the analyses
revealed that 63% of respondents receive primary information in handwritten and oral forms. It
was clear from the analysis that information in the form of computer printout represents (38%)
was how officers acquire information needs among staffs at the Assembly. None receives theirs
through only electronic means as shown in Table 4.9. It is important to note that the issue of
information resource and its integral role in planning activities was not common to many officers
especially heads of decentralized departments of the District Assemblies.
Table 4.9

Means of acquiring Primary Information by District Assembly (n = 8)

Frequency % of Respondents
Computer Printout & Electronic
Computer Printout only
Electronic only
Handwritten only
Oral only
Oral & Handwritten
Source: Field Survey, 2011

3
3
0
4
4
5

54

38%
38%
0%
50%
50%
63%

Oral communication, communication by word of mouth, usually leads to poor presentation of the
message or can result in misunderstanding and wrong responses. At the same time spoken
communication is influenced by both verbal and non-verbal communication such as tone or body
language which may skew the meaning of your message in the mind of the receiver. This was the
kind of environment prevailing at the District Assembly in the context of information
dissemination (50%).
4.5.2

Computer Literacy Level

Computer literacy entails all forms of basic computing knowledge necessary to improve users
skills to effectively apply them to their day-to-day activities. It can also refer to the comfort level
someone has with using computer programs and other applications that are associated with
computers. Computer literacy, according to McKay (2004), does not mean you need to know
how to use every single piece of software you may encounter. It does not mean you need to
know how to write programs or network computers. You just need to know some basicshow to
save and open a file, how to use a word processing program, and how to send and receive
emailfor starters. It means having some sort of level of comfort around computers rather than a
look of fear and a feeling that something undesirable is likely to happen when they touch the
computer.

Word processing and spreadsheet applications such as Microsoft Word (36%) and Microsoft
Excel (27%) were the main Microsoft Office Suite applications used to do many tasks by staff of
the Asuogyaman District Assembly. Only few workers had skills in presentation and relational
database applications like Microsoft PowerPoint (23%) and Microsoft Access (14%) respectively
(Figure 4.4). This result was not surprising as Microsoft Word was the application used in the
typing of letters, memoranda, and notices which were normally done in most offices. The second
which was Excel was the software which was used for drawing graphs of all kinds based on
some data. PowerPoint follows next since most of the respondents were heads of departments, it
implied that they once a while perform some kind of presentation during their meetings and as
such had knowledge of how to use it.

55

Figure 4.4

Microsoft Office Application Usage by Officers of the Assembly


Microsoft
access
14%

Microsoft
word
36%

Microsoft
excel
27%

Microsoft
PowerPoint
23%

Source: Field Survey, 2011

4.5.3

Information System Literacy Level

Information systems literacy is the knowledge and hands-on familiarity with hardware, software,
peripherals, and network components common to most information systems. Computer literacy
is the actual ability to operate a computer and the understanding of the language used in working
with a specific system or systems.

Figure 4.5

Level of Information Systems Literacy among Officers of the Assembly


No
38%

Yes
62%

Source: Field Survey, 2011

Figure 4.5 indicates that five of the respondents from the District Assembly representing 62.5%
were information system literates. The remaining three responded in the negative when asked
whether they were information system literates. Respondents mentioned the following as some
of the information system software that they use in supporting their decisions: SPSS, CRIS and
Agriregisoft. Those who responded in the negative said they process data to generate their
information with the help of other colleagues in their outfit and sometimes in hand written form.
56

4.5.4

Network Systems

Computerizations of the District Assemblies go beyond availability of standalone computers but


more importantly if it is able to share information resources through inter connectivity of office
computers. This is to facilitate efficient service delivery and work performances. However, the
study revealed that it was only the Planning office that has networked the two computers and
other peripherals.
Table 4.10

Office Computers Networked at the District Assembly (n=8)

Frequency

Percent

Yes

12.5

No

87.5

Total

100

Source: Field Survey, 2011

Table 4.10 indicates that as many as seven of the respondents representing 87.5% revealed that
computers and other peripherals in their departments were not networked. The consequence is
that information dissemination has become more mechanical and this accounts for the high
degree of personal information delivery
4.5.5

Database Management System

It was established from the analysis that majority of the activities performed by Asuogyaman
District Assembly and its decentralized departments as far as data capture, processes, storage and
dissemination use the flat file database system. Six out of seven representing 86% of the
departments (Table 4.11) interviewed at the Assembly indicated that they use this type of data
management system. This is a database designed around a single table where it places all
database information in one table, or list, with fields to represent all parameters. It contains many
fields, often, with duplicate data that are prone to data corruption. If you decide to merge data
between two flat files, you need to copy and paste relevant information from one file to the other.
There is no automation between flat files. If you have two or more flat files that contain client
addresses, for example, and a client moved, you would have to manually modify the address
parameters in each file that contains that clients information. Changing information in one file
has no bearing on other files. The ability to retrieve information quickly from a well organized
data base allows for editing and generation of summary reports to facilitate decision making at
57

all levels. Interestingly, only one department in the District Assembly used relational database
(14%) that allowed the user to define certain record fields, as keys or indexes, to perform search
queries, join table records and establish integrity constraints.
Table 4.11: Database Management System

Response
Flat file

Frequency

% of Respondents
6
86%

Relational

14%

Total

100%

Source: Field Survey, 2011

It is therefore not surprising that it takes some departments more than two weeks to process the
collected data for their reports (Table 4.12)
Table 4.12: Processing time for Report Writing

Less than a week


1 - 2 weeks
More than 2 weeks
Total

Frequency
4
1
3
8

% of Respondents
50%
12.5%
37.5%
100%

Source: Field Survey, 2011

4.6

MONITORING AND EVALUATION

The need for consistent data to inform the District planning effort and the recognition that
monitoring and evaluation is necessary to determine whether or not the Rural Enterprises Project
is having impact on local economy of the Asuogyaman district is examined under this section.
Performance Indicators
Performance indicators are measurable indicators that demonstrate the achievement of an
outcome. They enable decision-makers assess progress towards the achievement of intended
outputs, outcomes, goals, and objectives, and are chosen to reflect the critical success factors of a
project. Indicators that capture the views and needs of traditionally marginalized groups such as
women and the poor can play a significant role in guiding policies to promote equity and
inclusiveness.

58

Table 4.13

Awareness of Performance Indicators by Clients

Response
Yes
No
Total

Frequency % of Respondents
29
29.6%
69
70.4%
98
100.0%

Source: Field Survey, 2011

Table 4.13 shows that 69 of project beneficiaries representing 70.4% responded in the negative
when they were asked whether they were aware and understood the indicators which the BAC
collected data on their businesses to check their performance. The remaining 29.6% were fully
aware of the performance indicators used by the BAC. This is a clear evidence of a topdown
approach to M&E whereby indicators are set in the interest of donors, funders and sometimes
project management without the concern of the beneficiary communities.
Table 4.14: Clients views on current REP Indicators
Very
Relevant

Relevant

Moderately
relevant

Not
relevant

Indifferent

Clients adopting New Technology

10

12

66

New Business Established

12

35

48

New Jobs Created

13

53

26

Clients Recording increased Production

21

34

30

Clients Diversifying Product

13

30

36

16

Clients Diversifying Business

29

41

13

Clients Adopting Improved Packaging

14

49

22

17

Clients Recording Increasing Sales

33

28

30

Clients Keeping Business Records

10

26

50

Clients Selling Outside Home District

22

36

17

11

Clients Having Access to MSE Information

35

41

10

Clients Operating Active Bank Accounts

22

64

Clients Supplying Products to Larger


Enterprises
Enterprises Established by Graduate
Apprentice/Unemployed

10

25

43

14

11

54

31

Clients adopting good workshop safety and


environmental management practices

10

28

39

13

LBAs with improved leadership

10

47

33

LBAs networking with others

18

37

36

MSEs development issues forwarded to


relevant authorities for consideration

19

29

42

Indicators

Source: Field Survey, 2011


59

Respondents were asked to express their views on a checklist of REP performance indicators and
the relevance to their business. The results are represented in Table 4.14. It became clear from
the analysis that the indicator clients adopting new technology ranked higher on the
Moderately Relevant category. This means that it is a good outcome indicator that can be used
to assess performance of a client. This was followed closely by clients operating active bank
accounts and clients keeping business records. On the very relevant category, client recording
increasing sales was judged to be the most useful indicator that information needs to be
collected. However, the general trend drawn from table 4.14 shows that there are relevance in the
outcomes towards the achievement of REP goals.

Table 4.15:

Assessment of Current REP Indicators by District Assembly (REP staff only)


indicators
Strongly Agree Undecided Disagree Strongly
Agree
Disagree

REP indicators are not flexible, i.e. cannot be 1


modified to suite current situation

Indicators are not useful to clients


Data collection format on indicators are too
complex.
Indicators are too many for both clients and field 1
staffs
Too many indicators tend to confuse both field
1
staffs and clients
Clients not prepare to disclose business
2
information on some indicators

2
2

Time frame for data collection are not well


define i.e. when to collect what data and at what
time result in duplication of data.
Collecting information on same indicator across
different trade areas does not produce clear
clients performance
Source: Field Survey, 2011

1
1

REP officers in the district were asked to express their views on the performance indicators data
have been collected for the past four years on clients. Respondents fully agreed that most of the
clients were not prepared to disclose business information as shown in Table 4.15. Staff also
expressed the view that collecting information on same indicators across different trade areas
does not produce clear growth performance of beneficiary clients. For example, you cannot use

60

the same indicator to measure the turnover of the honey producer or the grasscuter farmer with
that of the hairdresser or the soap maker.
4.6.1

The Client Monitoring Team

The formation of a team to manage the M&E system in the district became obvious after the
analysis of the responses from the questionnaire. Majority of the respondents (82%) believed that
project activities and implementation could be well monitored closely by dedicated team (Figure
4.6). The team must be institutionalized and formed around unpaid volunteers, who would be

trustees of development projects responsible to the District Assembly, project clients, the
community, funders, and the government and to taxpayers as a whole. They are to perform
special M&E and managerial functions to all projects especially those that are of MSE
development focused.
Figure 4.6

Views on the Formation of Client Monitoring Team to provide feedback

No
18%

Yes
82%

Source: Field Survey, 2011

It became clear from the analysis that the formation of a monitoring team can greatly improve
performance of development programmes and projects at the District Assemblies to achieve their
developmental goals and objectives.
Table 4.16:

Clients Views on the Importance of Monitoring Team

Very important
Important
Moderately important
Not important
Indifferent
Total

Frequency % of Respondents
9
9%
47
49%
19
20%
11
11%
10
10%
96
100%

Source: Field Survey, 2011


61

Table 4.16 show that 9% of the respondents agreed that it is very important for the formation of
monitoring and evaluation team. About 49% and 20% of the respondents respectively claimed
that it was important for the formation of the team. It was only 11 people who saw the formation
as not being important with the remaining ten being indifferent about the whole issue. The study
sought from the clients to propose the number of people whom they think could be appropriate to
form the team. The outcome is presented in Table 4.17.
Table 4.17

Suggested size of the Client Monitoring Team


Frequency

Percent

Three

12

13%

Four

15

16%

Five

32

34%

Six

8%

Seven

10

11%

Eight

9%

Nine

2%

Ten

7%

Total

95

100%

Source: Field Survey, 2011

The result from the analysis indicated that 32 of the respondents representing 34% preferred that
the size of the team should be five. Fifteen suggested the size to be four representing 16%, 12
settled on three as the appropriate size, 10 clients agreed on seven while nine respondents settled
on eight people. Eight people chose a size of six and two said if the team is to be formed they
would prefer a size of nine. From the above it can be inferred that any preferred number would
hover around five.
4.6.2

Membership of the Monitoring Team

A properly functioning board can be a powerful force for any institution to succeed. When
management board is working effectively, its members will offer unbiased advice on a variety of
topics, including strategic partnerships, financing, acquisitions, and key hires. Moreover, they
will ensure sound governance by insisting on proper oversight, audit, and human resources
procedures. The value of a good board cannot be underestimated, while a bad board may be
worse than none at all (Evans, 2007).

62

A diverse, experienced team can play a crucial role in the success of business, offering outside
experience and perspective that can help avoid problems and take advantage of opportunities.
Respondents from the Assembly were asked to suggest membership of the team from a list of
MSE development focused institutions, departments and other civil society organizations. Areas
that were considered from the analysis included project staff, local business associations, unit
committees, department of co-operative, department of community development and the
Planning Officer among other areas.
Table 4.18: Suggested Membership of the Monitoring Team by Assembly Staff
Strongly Agree

7
Project staff
2
Social Welfare
3
MSE sub-committee member
2
Local business Association member
1
Unit Committee member
3
Traditional Authorities
Revenue officer
Department of Co-operative
1
Non formal department
2
Department of Community
Development
5
Planning officer
Source: Field Survey, 2011

Agree

Undecided

1
3
3
4
6
2
1
4
2
5

3
1
2
1
2
3
2
3

Disagree

Strongly Disagree

1
3

1
2

2
1

The study revealed that project staff, member from the local business association, a unit
committee member, representative from the department of co-operative and a representative
from department of community development. The analysis also strongly agreed that the Planning
Officer must be part of the team as shown in Table 4.18. However, the general trend shows that
with the exception of personnel from department of co-operative, revenue office and the non
formal department, the rest can form a formidable monitoring team for the District Assembly
responsible for development projects.

4.7

VIEWS ON NEW SYSTEM TO MANAGE MSE INFORMATION

Table 4.19 indicates that 93% of the respondents (District Assembly staff and clients) believed
that a new system could be introduced to cater for the management of MSE information. They
believed that the introduction would improve the management of MSE operations in the district.
Respondents agreed that the proposed system when introduced could have the following
63

advantages; that it would reduce the time spent in the collection and processing of data, it would
ensure safe storage of data and will fasten communication. Other reasons given by respondents
were that a new MIS if introduced would make decision making easier and faster and that it
would enable researchers work on, and use stored up information for reports and lastly data
collection and information delivery would be easier and faster to analyze. About 7% objected to
this new introduction.
Table 4.19:

Views on the need of a new MIS by Assembly staff and Project Clients

Response Frequency % of Respondents


94
7

Yes
No

93%
7%

Source: Field Survey, 2011

It was generally accepted that a well-developed and targeted adoption of digital technology in
information management would have a positive impact on MSE information dissemination. This
could assist the district assembly to be more efficient and effective in pursuing its MSE
developmental goals towards poverty reduction.
4.7.1

Type of MIS Proposed

From Table 4.20, 62% of the total respondents (Assembly staff and Clients) said they prefer the
new system to be purely computer application software. In addition to this 19% of the
respondents said if any system is introduced, it should be in the form of focus group discussion.
This is where members from each trade association meet separately to evaluate individual
performance. This was followed by 8% who said it should be a manual system with the
remaining 5% saying the new system should be both manual and computerized. From the above
it was concluded that the majority of the respondents preferred the computerized MIS over the
manual one.
Table 4.20

The type of the Proposed MIS

Response
Computer software
Manual(paper & pen)
Both Manual & Computer
Focus group discussion
Total

Frequency
66
8
5
20
99

Source: Field Survey, 2011


64

% of Respondents
67%
8%
5%
19%
100%

4.8

REVENUE MOBILIZATION

The primary activity of the local government is to create an environment that facilitates
economic growth and the well-being of its citizens. The district assembly needs resources to
invest in infrastructure and other amenities that increase their attractiveness to people with the
talent and resources to contribute to local economic development. However, it became clear from
the study that inappropriate data collection mechanism and unreliable data were the major factors
that affected revenue mobilization in the district (see table 4.21). It was established that revenue
officers found it difficult in updating and storing revenue data at the District Assembly.

Table 4.21:

Factors affecting revenue mobilization and data storage at the District Assembly
Strongly
Agree

Agree

Undecided

Disagree

Inappropriate data collection


mechanism
Unreliable data
Difficulty in updating data
Monitoring
and
tracking
mechanism is unavailable
Unreliable revenue collectors

Financial leakages

Unit committees do not cooperate

Strongly
Disagree

Source: Field Survey, 2011

However, the general impression indicates that respondents agreed that the above factors have
influence in revenue collection in the District.

4.9

COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION

According to Pretty et al.s typology of Participation, respondents were asked to assess the level
of participation of project clients, District Assembly staff, Project staff and Unit committee
members on REP monitoring and evaluation activities. The results as shown in figure 4.7
indicated that majority of REP stakeholders show low level of participation in M&E activities.
This ranges from passive participation to consultation participation.

65

Figure 4.7

Level of Participation
160
140
120
100
80
60
40
20
0

Self
Mobilization

Interactive

Functional

13

11

51

Material
incentive

Consultation

Unit Committee
Project Staff
District Assembly
Clients

5
7

36

Information
giving
43

Passive

76

27

19

41

Source: Field Survey, 2011

The general observation from figure 4.7 shows that high level of participation in project
monitoring and evaluation are performed by project staff in the district. This is an indication of a
top down approach to project M&E, a situation that does not promote project sustainability and
community ownership
4.10

USING GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS AS A DECISION SUPPORT TOOL

It is interesting to note that the issue of Geographical Information Systems and its integral role in
planning activities was known to many officers especially at the management levels in
Asuogyaman District. The figure 4.8 shows that 75% of the respondents were of the view that
the use of Geographic information system (GIS) could be an added advantage to monitor and
track potential sources of revenue generation from the MSE sector in the District. It was
concluded from the analysis that its application would greatly improve the revenue mobilization
of the Assembly.
66

Figure 4.8

Use of GIS to aid Monitoring

25%
YES
75%

NO

Source: Field Survey, 2011

This could influence management decisions on the local economic development. Among the
reasons given by respondents were that there would be enough data to be used in making
decisions and mapping out strategies, monitoring and evaluation would be successful as physical
location of potential revenue zone could be easily identified. Other reasons given were that it
would ensure effective data collection and storage. Also the use of GIS technology would
increase revenue for the district assembly.

In conclusion, to make good decisions, you need good information therefore district and local
authorities need to manage the available information resources to improve decision making for
development results. It is therefore important for the Asuogyaman district authorities to keep
development efforts on track for project sustainability and community ownership. The District
Assembly must have a good understanding of the most important needs of the beneficiary
community groups to enable them design an MSE development project that meets their needs.
There must be a high level community participation in the M&E process to identify a number of
performance indicators for tracking progress and to support business growth performance.

67

CHAPTER FIVE
MODEL DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION
5.0

INTRODUCTION

The conclusion section of chapter four identified the need for good information in order to make
good decisions and this has call for the current system of managing MSE information at the
assembly to be improved. This is to encourage and promote the operations of small business
management in the district. In line with this, the need for the 4th objective was necessary. The
findings had necessitated the design and installation of a new system that allows the flow of good
and accurate information from the client at the community level to the district policy makers to
take good decisions on activities of MSEs spread all over in the district.
This chapter describes the model design and implementation of new management information
systems to support MSE operations in the district. The application of digital technology is still
far below the level that is expected to drive the local economy forward as the research findings
showed that the Asuogyaman district still used rudimentary technologies that tended to slow
down the functions of the Assembly and other collaborating agencies.
5.1

Participatory Community Based Information System (PCBMIS)

Based on the information gathered through interviews with stakeholders of REP in the District
and extensive literature search, PCBMIS was developed. This is an integrated M&E application
software package made up of the GRACE tool, RUMESG and a desktop GIS application.
It is interesting to note that the Graduated Color Evaluation (GRACE) tool shown in Figure 5.1
has been developed to monitor and evaluate client growth performance. An MIS application
software called Rural MSE Growth (RUMSEG) shown in Figure 5.6 has also been developed to
inform management decisions. This is supported by Geographic Information System (GIS)
shown in Figure 5.15 to monitor clients and their activities at their physical locations.

5.2

Model Design

The purpose of the design phase was to plan a solution to the problem specified by the findings
in chapter four. This phase was the first step in moving from problem domain to the solution
domain. The design of the system was perhaps the most critical factor affecting the quality of the
software, and had a major impact on the later phases, particularly testing and maintenance. This
68

model is similar to a blue print or plan for the solution, and was used later during
implementation, testing and maintenance.

5.3

System Architecture of the implemented model

This represents the conceptual model that defines the structure and behavior of the RUMSEG
application software. "System architecture" refers to the way in which desired functionality is
met by hardware and software components as well as how these components relate to each other
and the intended users of the system (Appendix IV).

5.3.1

Modeling of RUMSEG

The Programming of the application software was designed along the Waterfall model
(Appendix III) which states that the phases are organized in a linear order; however, the Agile
software development approach was employed during the modules testing.

The Waterfall Model begins with feasibility analysis. On the successful demonstration of the
feasibility analysis, the requirement analysis and model planning begins. The design starts after
the requirement analysis followed by coding after the design has been completed. Once the
programming is completed, the code is integrated and testing follows. On successful completion
of testing, the system is installed. After this the regular operation and maintenance of the system
takes place.
One of the key principles of the Agile SDLC (Systems Development Life Cycle) was to conduct
the testing of the RUMSEG software as it was developed. Each module was tested
independently. When errors were detected changes were made and re-run again till the module
was free of bugs as shown in (Appendix III)

5.3.2

Model Specification

This specifies the minimum content elements of the RUMSEG software including the scope of
the software application to be produced. It describes its functionality including description of the
benefits, objectives, and goals of the software.

69

5.3.4

Objectives and Scope of RUMSEG

The objective of this RUMSEG model was to develop a system that informs decision makers at
different levels in the Local Governance to have access to tactical information to assist policy
makers in the district to respond effectively to rural MSE development issues at various
situations that may occur in the functioning of the district administration.

The study aimed at developing a model that enhances decision making process of the District
Assembly in the field of monitoring and evaluation of development projects. This will thereby
reduce the cost of providing administrative services, wastage, errors and time spent on
processing paper work. The model generally covers participatory community based monitoring
and evaluation of development projects with emphasis on input, output and outcome indicators.
Specifically, RUMSEG model was based on rural micro and small scale enterprises
development.
The monitoring and control system of RUMSEG consists of four main elements:
A process
The core of the RUMSEG system is a kind of process that turns inputs into outputs. For example,
a community based skills training that seek to provide new community based skills for the
unemployed. This software turns inputs of commitment fee and cost of training into outputs of
skilled people who are trained through processes of training delivery.

A monitoring mechanism
This application software gathers information about the outputs from the process. For example, it
would gather information about the number of people trained and the extent of their new skills in
the training activity.
A comparison mechanism
This compares the information gathered about current performance with information on
previously-set plans, targets, etc. These two types of information represent the information needs
of the monitoring and control system. For example, this mechanism would compare information
on actual skills gained with outcome targets.

70

A control mechanism
This decides upon and then ensures implementation of corrective action (Re-appraisal) based on
the outcome of the comparison. For example, where skill levels produced by training were lower
than expected, changes to the outcome indicator target set or location of training might be
decided upon and implemented.
5.4

Model Coding

After the design was completed, most of the major decisions about the system were made. The
goal of the coding phase was to translate the design of the system into codes in a given
programming language. A computer program is a logical sequence of instructions that, when
executed, causes the computer to behave in a predetermined manner. Without programs,
computers are useless, therefore, programming means designing or creating a set of instructions
to ask the computer to carry out certain jobs which normally are very much faster than human
beings can do. For this design, the aim of this phase was to implement the design in the best
possible manner. The coding phase affects both testing and maintenance profoundly. A well
written code reduces the testing and maintenance effort hence, during coding the focus was to
develop a program that was easy to write. Simplicity and clarity was strived for, during the
coding phase. In line with this, the computer language used was the Visual Basic (.net Studio).

5.4.1

Visual Basic (.net Studio)

Visual Basic .NET (VB.NET or VB .NET) is a version of Microsoft's Visual Basic that was
designed, as part of the company's .NET product group, to make Web Services applications
easier to develop. According to Microsoft, VB .NET was reengineered, rather than released as
VB 6.0 with added features, to facilitate making fundamental changes to the language. VB.NET
is the first fully object-oriented programming (OOP) version of Visual Basic.

5.5

Model Testing

Testing was the major quality control measure employed during software development. Its basic
function was to detect errors in the software. The starting point of testing was unit (modules)
testing where each module was tested separately and was performed simultaneously with the
coding of the module. The purpose was to execute the different parts of the module code to
detect coding errors. After this the modules were gradually integrated into subsystem, which
71

were collectively integrated to form the entire system. During integration of modules, integration
testing was performed. The goal of this testing was to detect design errors, while focusing on
testing the interconnection between modules as shown in (Appendix III).
As a means of testing the models of RUMSEG, it was necessary to debug in order to eliminate
all the syntax and logic errors.

5.6

Model Documentation

Documentation is a vital part of developing and using a computer-based system. In some


commercial organizations, 20 to 40% of the total development effort goes into the documentation
of the new system, recording how the new system is to work and how it was developed.

There are two types of documents, the System documentation which was developed to help any
system analyst understand the RUMSEG software or to maintain it after the system is installed.
User documentation such as Users Manual or Training Manual on the other hand, was designed
to help the user operate the system.

5.7

Model Maintenance

The software definitely undergoes change once it is delivered to the Business Advisory Center of
the Asuogyaman District Assembly. There can be many reasons for this change to occur. Change
could happen because of some unexpected input values into the system. In addition, the changes
in the system could directly affect the software operations. The software has been developed to
accommodate changes that could happen during the post implementation period.
5.8

The RUMSEG Software

The development of the RUMSEG (Rural Micro and Small Scale Enterprise Growth) was
tailored along the systems development life cycle (SDLC) architectural framework (Appendix
IV). This approach conforms to the generally accepted method of system development. As
Management Information Systems for the district assembly, RUMSEG focused on monitoring
and evaluation reports on the operations and activities of Rural MSEs.

72

Detailed appraisal of the existing system from chapter 4 indicates that the flat file database
system currently being used at the Asuogyaman District Assembly was not sufficient to handle
the data processing needs at the various departments, especially those that are of MSE
development focused.
To address these findings a more robust relational database that incorporates multiple tables with
methods for the tables to work together was used to design RUMSEG. The relationships between
tables and the data can be collated, merged and displayed in database forms.
Designing the RUMSEG relational database took more planning than the existing flat file
databases. Interestingly this made use of virtual tables that provides faster accessibility to
information. The model fully described how the data were organized, in terms of data structure,
integrity, querying, manipulation and storage.
RUMSEG database allows the researcher to define certain record fields, as keys or indexes, to
perform search queries, join table records and establish integrity constraints. Search queries are
faster and more accurate when based on indexed values. Table records could be easily joined by
the indexed values. Integrity constraints can be established to ensure that table relationships are
valid and once a one-to-many relationship is established relational database is sufficient to
handle data processing needs of users.

5.8.1

RUMSEG Input Data

The outcome from chapter four showed that data could be generated from the activities of the
rural micro enterprise communities and that it could be processed at different management levels
for the decision makers to promote enterprise growth in the district. Generally, the goal of
RUMSEG software was to produce a user - friendly interface that makes it easy, efficient, and
enjoyable to operate the computer in the way that produces the desired result. This generally
means that the user needs to provide minimal input to achieve the desired output. Below are
sample user interface extracted from the RUMSEG software.

5.8.2

Data Security

Analysis from the field interview indicated that most of the clients information at the District
Assembly and the Business Advisory Center were stored in flat file database developed from
Microsoft Excel. This is characterized with data insecurity and it was difficult to manipulate and
73

generate the much needed report for decision making. Consequently, a more robust and dynamic
relational database system had been designed and installed to replace the old system. In order to
protect clients information access levels has been provided by RUMSEG for users to log into
the system with a password.

5.8.3

Clients Information

RUMSEG application software has been designed to create information database on all clients.
The clients data capture interface screen is used to input personal, social, and business
information including the photograph for easy identification (Figure 5.1).
Figure 5.1: Clients data capture interface

Source: Authors Construct, 2011

5.8.4

Business Growth Performance

Enterprise growth performance is measured based on indicator score that has been objectively
recorded with the Enterprises Monitoring Diary (Appendix V). Scores assigned to each level of
indicator performance ranges from integers between -2 and 2 inclusive.
Aided by the Enterprise Monitoring Diary, scores recorded against each indicator by each client
are entered into the system using this input interface (Figure 5.2).

74

Figure 5.2:

Client Performance Input Screen

Source: Authors Construct, 2011

5.8.4

The Desire Output

The desired outputs targeted by the study were the reports generated from the model developed
which include the graphical representation of growth performances of micro and small scale
enterprises and local business associations. Detailed information on micro enterprises operations
in the district can also be generated from the model.

Figure 5.3: Report on Client Information

Figure 5.4: Report on Associations Performance

Source: Authors Construct, 2011

Source: Authors Construct, 2011

75

Central to its monitoring and control roles, the RUMESG produces reports. This was mainly
what district authorities perceive about an MIS since these are its tangible outputs. Reports come
in many forms, as shown in figures 5.3 and 5.4.
Other reports that can be generated from the system includes list of project clients in various
forms and reports on total cost of training programmes.
5.9

THE GRACE Tool

The Graduated Colour Evaluation Tool, simply called GRACE tool is used to accumulate and
aggregate information on performance of project clients. The tool has been designed to capture
baseline information on clients and at a later date capture data on performance results using the
Enterprise Monitoring Diary (Appendix V). GRACE shows a two point situational analysis. As a
flat database GRACE does not capture detailed personal data of clients. The tool is used to
display clients performance on a particular intervention received. As a graduated colour tool,
GRACE has been designed to automatically format depending on the total score. It shows RED
when performance needs more improvement, YELLOW when there is a marginal improvement,
BLUE when performance is above average and GREEN when performance is satisfactory. The
score for each indicator ranges between the integers -2 and 2 inclusive. For a clear view
individual client performance the next sheet displays performance graphically while another
sheet displays automatically a graphical presentation of indicator performance within the period.
The third sheet displays a consolidated trade type performance showing the baseline situation
and the second time measure. See figures 5.5, 5.6 and 5.7.
Figure 5.5

The Graduated Colour Evaluation Tool Window

Source: Authors Construct, 2011

76

Figure 5.15 represents the performance of clients generated automatically after the indicator
performance score has been entered. It indicates performance against a baseline score (in blue
colour).
Figure 5.6

Graphical representation of Client Performance

Source: Authors Construct, 2011

The performance of the client with the ID Number MYK0001 shows no change in performance
between the time of intervention and the time the second data were collected. Client with ID
Number MYK0006 shows an improvement in performance. However, the client with ID
numbers MYK0005 shows a decline in performance between the two periods and must be
investigated and an advice given accordingly.

77

Figure 5.7

Indicator Performance Chart

Source: Authors Construct, 2011

In contrast to the top-down approach to project management that makes indicator selection more
rigid and sometimes tailored to suite donor communities, information gathered from the field
indicated that indicator selection must be reviewed periodically. Respondents agreed that guided
by a carefully selected multi discipline team (a proposed five member-team) could facilitate and
reverse the situation to a bottomup approach supported by project management team. As part of
the newly introduced tool the GRACE can automatically determine a particular indicator
performance within a period. This tool allows the community to celebrate successes and learn
from failures and provide an early warning to prevent economic, social and environmental
setbacks and where necessary re-appraise the indicators. The study showed that community
based participation in the selection of performance indicators, especially in the field of MSE
promotion, could help make better decisions and more effective actions by simplifying and
making aggregated information available to policy makers towards sustainable development
goals.

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Figure 5.8:

Trade Performance

Source: Authors Construct, 2011

It is interesting to note that this tool can display graphical representations of trade type
performance. This can bring healthy competition among the Local Business Association all in
the interest of local economic growth.

5.10

Geographic Information Systems

It is widely recognized that the Geographic Information System (GIS) has the capacity to analyze
spatial data on a cost effective manner for effective planning and management. Its application at
the local government level for participatory planning and management is limited as of now. This
study aimed to assist the Asuogyaman District Assembly in transforming data important to the
operations of rural micro enterprises and the local communities into information that decisionmakers can use to make better planning, resource allocations, and economic development
decisions using the desktop GIS.
5.10.1 Location of Clients with Hyperlink tool
With a well designed database a user can access documents related to features using the
Hyperlink tool. Hyperlinks let users provide additional information about the features to people
who will be using the maps.

Hyperlinks have to be defined before one uses the Hyperlink tool, and when a user clicks a
feature with the Hyperlink tool, a document or file is launched using the application with which
that file type is currently associated. Detailed information (videos, text or pictures) about a
community can be displayed to inform decision makers as to what commercial activities are
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prominent in that locality. For example, the town Aboasa was click (see figure 5.17) system
displays the picture of an oil palm processor from the town and the detailed information about
the community also displayed.

Figure 5.17

An Oil Palm Processor located at Aboasa

Source: Authors Construct, 2011

Figure 5.18 displays the picture of a soap maker at Gyakiti, a community about 22 kilometers
from the district capital while at the same time presents detailed information about the
community.
Figure 5.18: Display of information about Gyakiti Community

Source: Authors Construct, 2011

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5.10.2 Support to Revenue Collection


It became clear from the analysis in chapter 4 that a sound revenue system for local government
is an essential pre-condition for the success of financial decentralization. In addition to
contributing to internally generated funds, local revenue mobilization has the potential to
improve the local economic development of the district. However, recommendations deriving
from the theory to practice impose huge constraint on the choice of revenue instruments for local
governments. This is an area where spatial technologies can play a key role by generating timely
and reliable information for planning and decision-making at all levels. The use of GIS for
monitoring and evaluating rural micro and small scale enterprises for planning and
implementation of policy decisions is inevitable.

Thus, with a user-friendly interactive desktop GIS, RUMSEG and GRACE tool at the district
assemblies, can improve the efficiency in administration, improve resource mobilization and
help in informed decision making. The software is simple and customized, open for
modifications and contains lot of features for local government level applications. The powerful
aspect of this software is the capabilities of wide graphic usage such as audio-visuals,
photographs, imageries and analyzed maps etc, which displays field realities and help take
appropriate decisions by the local people themselves.

All formats are placed in Window format for ease in use and understanding at the local level
with Visual Basic. NET Software. With one day training, a person with high school qualification
can operate the software and maintain it. Any new parameters can be added and the software can
be upgraded from time to time based on the need of the time, without losing any data.

5.4

Minimum Hardware Requirement

Windows 2000/XP operating system


Pentium III Processor (Pentium 4 recommended)
128 MB of RAM (256 MB recommended)
500 MB of disk space

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CHAPTER SIX
Summary of Findings, Recommendations and Conclusion
6.0

Introduction

This final chapter presents a conclusion of the entire study in the form of summary of major
findings, conclusion and recommendations. It also describes readiness to install and apply digital
technology to manage MSE information for policy and decision making at the District Assembly.
The study aimed to look forward to what management information systems should have been
working towards in the past based on what is taking place currently, and what is expected for the
future of the local Government systems in Ghana.

6.1

Summary of Major Findings

The role of information in decision making cannot be over emphasized as effective decision
making tool demands accurate, timely and relevant information. Decision makers who
understand the importance of information have unique advantage over those who do not. And
even more importantly, those who understand the difference between good information sources
and poor ones become knowledge leaders. Management Information System sounds very much
related with digital technology but manual procedures of delivering information to the managers
is still available in some organizations in Ghana.

The study objective was to provide complete, timely, reliable and quality information to the
decision makers in a participatory manner at the Asuogyaman District Assembly as the existing
traditional management information system seems to be slower than computer based information
system because the entire procedure executes manually.

Thus, the study made the following revelations:

The District Assembly has not been adequately equipped to generate enough data and
information for policy and decisions on growth performance of rural micro enterprises. There
were no information systems serving the needs of the various departments and units in
Asuogyaman district assembly except few departments. There was also no data base for the
entire Assembly and in most of the decentralized departments and even if available, are the
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flat file database system. Although, it often contain many fields, had duplicate data that are
prone to data corruption. However, with the high level information systems literacy among
staff, introduction of MIS to the Assembly will be welcomed.

Lack of information flow (vertical and horizontal) between the district authorities and small
business operators and among the various business associations was identified

Majority of the District Assembly employees were only familiar with Microsoft Word (a
word processor) and Microsoft Excel (spreadsheet) applications. Other important Microsoft
Office suite applications were not known and this affected their output especially where such
applications could be well utilized to obtain their information needs.

Low level of stakeholder participation in REP monitoring and evaluation activities of micro
enterprises in the District. Beneficiary communities are not involved in developing
performance indicators and setting of performance targets. It is interesting to note that the
opinion of local community members about success, constitute a realistic view about what
works and what cannot work in the local community.

MSE Information processing and dissemination at the District Assembly are manually done
which tend to slow down activities and administrative procedures of the assembly.

6.2

Recommendations

The importance of Management Information Systems with regard to local government in Ghana
cannot be over emphasized. Digital technologies have the capacity to change the way District
Assemblies operate in most of the basic administrative functions. They can change the ways
local government administrators approach the development of their operations and service
deliveries.
It was clear from the findings that majority of the administrative activities of Asuogyaman
District Assembly including MSE information dissemination were performed manually which
tended to slow down the overall planning process of the Assembly and other collaborating
Agencies.

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In line with this assertion and the issues raised from the key findings regarding the management
of MSE information management from the community level to the district authorities it will be
expedient to seriously consider the following suggestions and recommendations. This will
redirect the use of digital technology to facilitate the functions of the sub district and the District
Assembly and the overall planning process.

Installation and Application of Information Management Systems

The need for information management systems in Asuogyaman District Assembly will
substantiate the dominant use of digital data processing over manual methods. A computerized
system designed to meet different functional needs to serve the respective operational levels in
an integrated manner is most needed.
The installation and application of PCBMIS has all the ingredients that are employed in
providing information support to district policy and decision makers plan and control decisions.
Heads of departments often use historical data on departmental activities as well as current data
in planning and decision making. Such data must come from an information resource maintained
by the assembly. In summary PCBMIS is an integrated man machine systems that provides
Micro and Small Scale Enterprises information to support the planning and control function of
all stakeholders at the District Assembly.

Capacity Building in the Use of MIS

A change to a full computer system will mean electronically empowering users to be active
participants of the information age rather than passive participants. Despite the promise of many
Management Information Systems and Internet-based applications, end - users can be expected
to encounter many obstacles as they attempt to apply these technologies to realize their strategic
visions. They will face barriers to, and constraints on, organizational change, as well as
uncertainty about the efficacy and effects of MIS applications. A resistance to change might
come from denial of the need to change, the inability to manage change, uncertainties about the
types of changes needed and how best to make them and failures in executing changes. These
issues are not different from the adoption of the PCBMIS by all stakeholders.
Asuogyaman District Assembly should incorporate ICT training in its plans so that MIS training
could be given to end users to enhance their skills. Training in basic computing like the use of
the RUMSEG application software needs to be intensified to cover its full appreciation and

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adoption by all stakeholders. It is thus a better way of improving literacy skills in both basic and
management computing.

Organise Performance Evaluation Forum

One way to help beneficiary communities appreciate the power of digital technology and to
receive feedback from monitoring exercise is to facilitate the organization of performance
evaluation forum occasionally by the Client Monitoring Team. It is recommended to use the
LCD Projector as a facilitating tool. Assisted by the Graduated Color Evaluation (GRACE) tool
each client will be able to assess the growth performance. as a feedback to monitoring exercise.
This will also serve as a forum to share information on business growth development and
capacity building for beneficiary clients.

Formation of Client Monitoring Team


The formation of a team to manage the M&E system in the district became eminent after the
analysis of the response. Majority of the respondents believed that project activities and its
implementation could be well monitored closely by dedicated team. The team must be
institutionalized and formed around unpaid volunteers, who would be trustees of development
projects responsible to the District Assembly, project clients, the community, funding agencies,
and the government and to taxpayers as a whole. They are to perform special M&E and
managerial functions to all projects especially those that are MSE development focused. The
team will be responsible for overseeing or implementing policy that will enable the district to
achieve its MSE developmental goals and objectives. See APPENDIX VII.

Development of MSE information Database

Reports generated from the system must be disseminated to identifiable stakeholders within the
district. This should include the District Assembly itself, essential service providers, local
business associations and NGOs. Copies of relevant outputs must be displayed at the subdistricts and community centers for public knowledge. Through the MSE sub-committee on
development essential reports must be deliberated at the district general assembly.
6.3

Conclusion

The challenges of reducing rural poverty in Ghana have call for new strategies to attack the
problem from different angles. The active involvement of primary stakeholders in creating new

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rural micro enterprises and the strengthening of existing ones through capacity building and
business counseling is a meaningful approach to poverty reduction.
This study has analyzed active participation of beneficiary communities in generating good and
accurate information through participatory monitoring and evaluation of rural MSE development
projects. The voice of the rural entrepreneurial poor can now be heard by the policy makers
through a functional Management Information System to address some operational challenges
facing micro enterprise development in rural Ghana.
It is interesting to note that with the implementation of the Participatory Community Based
Management Information System (PCBMIS) model, MSE development projects can narrow the
gap between project goals and the results.

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Reference

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