Malawi’s transportation sector stands to benefit greatly from experiences gained and lessons learned through DevInfo implementation successes across the border in its northern neighbor,
While over 130 countries and global regions have adapted DevInfo database technology for monitoring, evaluating and disseminating data, only one of these – Tanzania – has managed to successfully implement DevInfo across numerous government ministries, agencies and sub-sectors. Now, one ministry in Malawi is poised to enter into a new phase of data-based decision making with the help of experts involved in Tanzania’s decade-long process of DevInfo capacity building.
Tanzania TransportInfo home page
Msafiri Mbwana Mziray, a Tanzania-based DevInfo consultant with over 37 years of experience working in the country’s transportation sector, champions the importance of DevInfo implementation to support data-driven decision-making. Through a short-term technical assistance input as part of a larger capacity building effort in Malawi by URS Scott Wilson to the EU-backed Institutional Support to Transport Sector Public Bodies Project (INSTAP), Mziray has put this expertise to good use, working with government officials in Malawi’s transport sector to build capacity in performance monitoring using DevInfo.
Transferring DevInfo skills to Malawi
Since April 2009, Mziray has been actively sharing lessons learned and best practices from Tanzania’s transport sector with counterparts in Malawi. His main objective has been to assist Malawi transport sector officials in developing databases to enable indicator-based monitoring at the sector, sub- sector and institutional levels. This has included setting up monitoring frameworks, developing statistical structures for data management, and creating uniformly shareable databases with updated information.
During a training workshop in 2011, participants
from the Ministry of Transport and Public Infrastructure Headquarters worked on a Performance Monitoring Database for the Corridors sub-sector. In the process, the ministry defined the strategic use of key performance indicators and identified information gaps. This aided its effort to review the Performance Indicators Monitoring Framework adopted in 2009 by the INSTAP Steering Committee.
Similarly, during the same workshop, officials from the National Construction Industry Council of Malawi created a database to help monitor and evaluate the performance and progress of consultants, contractors, material suppliers, and capacity gaps. Participants from the Roads Authority found DevInfo to be an ideal solution for providing a common repository for storage and access to monitoring indicators, enabling decision makers to look at remedial measures and serving as a platform for disseminating information to key stakeholders. Even though officials from the Road Fund Administration (which collects and manages funds for road construction) and the local government were unable to attend the workshop, they nonetheless expressed appreciation for what the database technology can offer.
At the conclusion of the training workshop, ten databases with defined indicators were created and 27 new focal points within Malawi’s transportation sector had been trained.
Lessons learned and shared
Sharing lessons learned and transferring knowledge is crucial for cost-effective and sustainable country-led development. In particular, the opportunity to learn from other country experiences may reduce the institutionalization period significantly, leading not only to cost savings but hopefully better data management and faster development progress.
As Mziray explains, “DevInfo helps track budget performance, supports the evaluation of implementation plans, and helps set policy directions,” as decision-makers need to rely upon up-to-date data that can be easily accessed. With the best practices supporting Tanzania’s excellent track record of DevInfo use now shared with Malawi’s transport sector, the hope is that Malawi can also leverage the power of advanced database technology to bring about measurable improvements in service delivery to all its citizens.