Study on the Demand for and Supply of Evaluation in Zambia
This report seeks to present in relation to evaluation in Zambia: (i) the conditions under which demand is generated for evidence; and (ii) the areas in which supply can be strengthened to meet and foster this demand. This report shows that there is currently active, latent and potential evaluation demand and supply in Zambia. It is argued that in Zambia each entry-point for evaluation is partial and is mediated by aligned interest groups rather than a neutral role-player seeking to expand evidence-based practice. This demand is set within a context where there is a high degree of political competition between political parties and various interest groups. In the political economy, loyalties to informal networks of power are in many cases more important than performance.
The latent and potential demands are nested within the Executive, while there is active demand for evaluation in the Ministry of Finance. This demand is conditioned by the political economy where both formal and informal agendas determine how policy is implemented. Supply could be strengthened through the various think tanks, the newly merged Evaluation Association, and through work with the well-resourced Centre of Excellence at the University of Zambia.
Evaluation supply is limited in the country. International consultants, rather than local ones, often lead evidence gathering or evaluation exercises. The expertise to undertake evaluations in Zambia has some islands of well-connected evaluation practice that works both in the formal and informal political domains. The university sector has some research capacity, especially in the social science sector, but indications are that there are structural challenges in the sector with qualified staff leaving for better paid positions elsewhere.
There are entry points in policy processes for improving evaluation capacities in Zambia with ongoing policy initiatives of the government as well as the Sixth National Development Plan. Functional sector working groups are lacking but are needed to feed into the governance of evaluations.
The approach for evaluation capacity development suggested in this study is to work across multiple entry points simultaneously to improve evaluation practice. This has the advantage of being able to interact with different points in the political economy, while also only resourcing different stakeholders to the degree that resources can be absorbed. This means that some institutions, such as Parliament, may require sensitisation activities and modest technical support rather than large-scale interventions. Meanwhile, entry-points, such as the Ministry of Finance, can be worked with to respond to new demands in a systematic manner that already builds on their successes.