• Poverty;
  • monitoring;
  • Tanzania;
  • evaluation

Over the past decade, considerable attention and resources have been directed at Poverty Monitoring and Assessment Systems (PMASs), a core problem being the limited demand for, and use of, the data they generate. This article discusses the sources of these demand-side problems and explores the difficulties in trying to address them via PMAS-related processes, arguing that both institutional factors and design features have contributed to the disappointing performance of these systems. Incentive structures within the public sector in particular have made for an extremely unfavourable environment, and institutional problems have been compounded by questionable design features resulting from faulty analysis, flawed assumptions and conflicting views as to the objectives of ‘poverty monitoring’. Tanzania's PMAS experience is used to illustrate the argument.