As countries respond to the demands of rapidly changing development contexts, the need to find the right systems and tools to promote inclusive development increases. Across Africa there is pressure to harness emerging evaluative thinking and context-specific evaluation processes, to improve our responses to the complex transformations occurring within the continent. The Centre for Learning on Evaluation and Results – Anglophone Africa (CLEAR-AA) enables practitioners to come together to develop their own skills for reflecting and learning from experience as an integral component of the capacity development model. The Anglophone African Dialogue was a platform for collaborative learning by focusing on country experiences institutionalizing and improving evaluation capacity for national evaluation systems by looking at the different drivers of demand within the system. This one-day dialogue worked with participants to discover not just “what we are doing” but “what we are learning from what we are doing”, with an aim to strategies on collective ways of arriving at sustained change. The Dialogue shared unique country experiences from Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, and Kenya; exploring how the building blocks of National Evaluation Systems that were being developed by Uganda, South Africa and Zambia showed how demand can be driven through focused attention in key areas. Hearing from non-state actors provided greater insights into how to build cultures of evaluation across the demand spectrum. Continued growth of monitoring and evaluation country systems has stimulated the demand for evaluation both within and outside national governments. Given the pressures for delivery from national development plans, country systems have begun to institutionalize M&E by establishing departments, policy frameworks and evaluation legislation. Building a more inclusive system through working with the legislature, civil society groups and sub-national governments was put forward as a priority for the near future. To do this, we need more understanding on the constraints and levers of evaluation demand in different contexts. We need to learn what are the entry points for sustained behavior change and how to ensure national systems are country-led and owned. Building and sharing a body of knowledge on these points will be CLEAR-AA’s focus in 2016.
Author: Mitesh Thakkar, John Floretta, Diva Dhar, Nikhil Wilmink Sree Sen, Niall Keleher, Michelle McConnaughay, Lindsey Shaughnessy