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Global Evaluation Initiative (GEI) Week: The Process to Strengthen National Evaluation Systems MUST be Country-Owned and Country-Led by Taku Chirau

This week’s posts highlight reflections from the Global Evaluation Initiative (GEI), a global network of organizations and experts working together to support the strengthening of monitoring, evaluation, and the use of evidence in developing countries. GEI uses an integrated systems-based approach and works closely with governments, evaluation professionals, and other stakeholders on efforts that are country-owned and aligned with local needs and perspectives.

-Liz DiLuzio, Lead Curator, AEA365

Hi, I am Taku Chirau, and I am the Deputy Director of the Centre for Learning on Evaluation and Results for Anglophone Africa (CLEAR-AA), a Global Evaluation Initiative (GEI) Implementing Partner.

CLEAR-AA is working closely with the United Republic of Tanzania and the Republic of Uganda to help them strengthen their national evaluation infrastructure. This support includes the development of national evaluation guidelines (Tanzania) and national evaluation plans (Tanzania/Uganda) and the review of national policy on public sector monitoring and evaluation (Uganda), which are often pivotal in creating a supportive culture and regulatory environment to allow evaluation to flourish. 

However, can you imagine CLEAR-AA staff developing these documents in their office in Johannesburg without setting foot in Tanzania and Uganda?  That seems like an absurd idea, but, sometimes in the field of monitoring and evaluation, documents such as these are developed without any contribution from the partner country and without any customization to the local context.

One of the key tenets of GEI’s approach is that the process to improve or strengthen a country’s national M&E system MUST be country-owned and co-created with key M&E stakeholders in each country – with GEI providing technical support and guidance. CLEAR-AA collaborates closely with the central institutions that provide oversight and coordination of M&E in each country, supporting them in leading the process to improve their national evaluation systems. For example, the Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Division (PMED) in Tanzania’s Prime Minister’s Office and the Directorate for Monitoring, Evaluation and Inspection (DMEI) in the Uganda Office of Prime Minister are the leads in making sure that all relevant national M&E ecosystem members are at the “table” to discuss the development of national guidelines or policies, with CLEAR-AA providing technical backstopping.

We have learned quite a few important lessons in our work to support a country-led effort to strengthen national M&E systems.

Lessons Learned

  1. Leverage the existing system. Strengthening the national evaluation function often calls for making the most of the current infrastructure in place.  This means recognizing the efforts and ideas that have already been invested in the existing infrastructure, such as the M&E systems framework for public service in Tanzania. While this framework primarily focuses on monitoring rather than evaluation, it can still serve as a foundation for crafting components of an evaluation system, including guidelines and plans.
  2. Embrace co-creation as an imperative. It is essential to use a co-creation approach in each country as it helps to foster participation, ownership, and buy-in. This is exemplified in GEI’s Monitoring and Evaluation Systems Analysis (MESA) tool, which helps to identify key stakeholders in each country’s M&E ecosystem as an important step in understanding the system’s current capacity.
  3. Nurture Champions. Senior champions, particularly those at the highest level of the “food chain” such as permanent secretaries, directors, and commissioners, play a crucial role in championing and leading M&E efforts. Their buy-in is also necessary for success in utilizing evaluative evidence.
  4. Developing plans and guidelines is just a starting point. After plans and guidelines are developed, they need support. Development partners can play a critical role in supporting the roll-out of plans and guidelines by providing financial resources.

In conclusion, GEI’s and CLEAR-AA’s journey to strengthen national evaluation systems revolves around a core principle: putting the countries themselves in charge. As we continue this mission, our commitment remains focused on cultivating an environment where evaluation not only survives but flourishes, helping to inject valuable insights into national decision-making processes.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Global Evaluation Initiative (GEI) Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from GEI members. 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@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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