Original Research - Special Collection: SAMEA 7th Biennial Conference 2019

Monitoring and evaluation lessons from the design and implementation evaluation of the ‘You Only Live Once’ social behaviour change programme for adolescents: A partnership between the United States Agency for International Development, Department of Soci

Hlali K. Kgaphola, Christel Jacob
African Evaluation Journal | Vol 8, No 1 | a468 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aej.v8i1.468 | © 2020 Hlali K. Kgaphola, Christel Jacob | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 February 2020 | Published: 23 October 2020

About the author(s)

Hlali K. Kgaphola, National Department of Social Development (DSD), Pretoria, South Africa
Christel Jacob, MERL, Pact South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


Background: Conducting evaluations in South Africa has become a common government practice because of the rise in demand for evidence-based policymaking. However, evaluation is often seen as an exercise to be undertaken at the end of a programme – summative – instead of playing a distinct role at all stages of the programme cycle – formative and process evaluation. Subsequently, programmes are often designed without the help of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) specialists to ensure robust and testable theories of change (TOCs) and implementation modalities, or monitoring systems that assess performance to enable adaptive management.

Objectives: This article presents findings from a case study regarding what the public sector can learn from formative evaluation to improve public sector programmes.

Method: The case study focuses on implementing and utilising the results of a formative evaluation of the ‘You Only Live Once’ (YOLO) programme to highlight frequently experienced limitations and potential solutions to utilise M&E as a form of effective programme management in the public service. It is aimed at the public sector to provide evidence that other forms of evaluation and monitoring systems are critical to enable effective public programming.

Results: Key lessons learnt include the significance of developing a clear and comprehensive M&E system at the programme planning and design stage, embedding the culture of M&E in programme implementation, evaluating potential modalities of implementation, rather than simply assuming modality robustness, and capacitation of implementation agencies to internalise and implement M&E requirements.

Conclusion: These lessons present the critical role of formative evaluation in ensuring that big-budget public sector programmes are designed and implemented effectively.


Monitoring and evaluation; Design and implementation evaluation; Programme lifecycle; YOLO; Public sector programme evaluation


Total abstract views: 2975
Total article views: 4090

Crossref Citations

No related citations found.