CLEAR Week: Tim Clynick on Beyond Rhetoric: Africa’s National Evaluation Movement

Tim Clynick, Acting Director of the Centre for Learning on Evaluation and Results in Anglophone Africa, (University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, Ghana Institute of Public Administration and the Kenya School of Government)

Greetings from CLEAR Anglophone Africa!

We are often asked where our programme – now in its third year – is having the greatest impact.

Lesson Learned: Growing the Supply. Since 2012, we have trained nearly 1,150 M&E practitioners and public servants, some in advanced methods and the majority in M&E and Result-based Management. But our training programmes also need to align better to national systems and standards. Supply constraints hamper efforts to deepen and improve national evaluation system building and significantly more effort is required to grow more skilled practitioners.

Responding to Demand. Our 11 country M&E studies have allowed us to identify opportunities to play a convening role so that national stakeholders can be mobilized around a common diagnostic such as need for a national evaluation policy or framework. CLEAR’s growing body of knowledge of national M&E systems has also been important in enabling mobilization of resources to meet specific local gaps, e.g. technical advisory services to sectoral departments to manage or conduct impact evaluations, or to support policy making and guidelines for ministries responsible for coordinating government programmes.

Receptive Environment. There is no lack of appreciation amongst African governments or stakeholders of the need for evidence-based learning and decision making. But we now understand the political economy of this demand and where it is real and meaningful – as opposed to symbolic or merely rhetorical – and act or respond accordingly.

Beyond Rhetoric: A successful partnership in South Africa. CLEAR recently participated in a session with the South African Presidency reflecting on successes in consolidating the National Evaluation System. The system is coalescing around the national norms and standards and guidelines. Thirty-eight National Evaluations are underway, procured or have been completed since 2011. A further 60 national – and between 50-100 provincial and departmental – evaluations are planned by 2016. M&E officers and programme managers are now demanding support to deepen their own professional evaluative practice. That public service managers are responding in this way can be considered a huge success for the evaluation movement in South Africa. The implications are galvanizing government and service providers across the country. The highpoint reached in South Africa is however part of a larger groundswell across the African Continent – in Kenya, Ghana, Zambia, Uganda, and elsewhere where we can look for similar results.

Rad Resources: In addition to following CLEAR Anglophone Africa, keep on top of what’s happening in African evaluation through the African Evaluation Association-AfrEA.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Centers for Learning on Evaluation and Results (CLEAR) week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from members of CLEAR. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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