Developing monitoring indicators for urban micro contracts in South Asia

The growing emphasis in many low-income countries on community-based infrastructure means that more programmes are being implemented through micro contracts. The advantages of this approach are that it encourages: • participative negotiation of activities and speedier implementation; • the use of local resources, skills and appropriate technology; and • entrepreneurship in communities. For client organisations, however, large numbers of very small contracts are much harder to monitor, supervise and evaluate. This paper draws upon recent research in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to develop a ‘benchmarking framework’ to study the time and cost performance of 162 small-scale contracts for urban infrastructure. The study found that costs were normally very close to target, but project duration generally far exceeded the target. There is only a weak association between the cost and time growth.