Economic evaluation of public programmes: lessons from the Expanded Public Works Programmes in South Africa


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This review aims at assessing the economic evaluation of public programmes such as the expanded public works programmes (EPWP) in South Africa. The South African government earmarked the EPWP for departments and municipalities to implement projects that are meaningful for economic transformation and inclusive growth. This study argues that economic evaluation of public programmes must consider the interplay of complex decisions making on resource allocations and take into account consequences thereafter in a systematic way. This review paper adopted a qualitative document analysis, where data is drawn from research reports on programme evaluation, policy documents, EPWP evaluation reports, books and articles drawn from accredited journals. Key findings from this study draw attention to unfulfilled great expectations to sustain job creation in an emerging economy in South Africa. Results also revealed that although the M&E design was suitable for the evaluation, it was not compared to any other alternative cost-effective measurement strategy to assess the economic value of the EPWP in South African public service. Based on the lessons from EPWP, this study recommends an integrative approach to evaluate job creation programmes in order to settle on the economic value of EPWP.

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    • Figure 1. The simple system model
    • Figure 2. EPWP Monitoring and Evaluation Framework
    • Table 1. The Cost of Evaluating the Expanded Public Works Programme