On 3rd November 2015 Zambia joined the rest of the world in celebrating 2015 as a year of evaluation. The Zambia Monitoring and Evaluation (ZaMEA) was at the same occasion officially launched. Similar events have been held in other African countries.
It seems sometimes like focus in Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) mostly arises when there is a big international event. The Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness in 2005, the Accra Agenda for Action (2008) and Niamey AfrEA Declaration (2008) have driven the agenda in Africa for achieving the principles of ownership, inclusive partnership, delivering results and capacity development. There has been a lot of goodwill in developing M&E across Africa from external cooperating partners; especially in the public sector and civil society. Civil society includes the Voluntary Organisation for Professional Evaluations (VOPEs) at continental and national level, of which ZaMEA is the peak body.
However, during 2015 it seemed like developing M&E on the continent was a new idea. What’s worrying is to hear evaluators and governments still talking of building capacity for M&E. Zambia got its independence fifty one (51) years ago. There are many nations in Africa in their fifties. We should, therefore, by now be demonstrating the tangible results of independence and among them, well established M&E systems. Many VOPEs are still weak – mostly due to lack of resources and poor governance; lack of national institutional and skills capacity, lack of utilisation of M&E, and public ignorance of M&E. How we are addressing these challenge in developing evaluation in Africa is worthy of sharing.
Experiences of Zambia in developing evaluation could be used by any country as a case for enhancing its own development of evaluation. Both the public and private sectors in Zambia still face challenges in developing evaluation culture. However, both sectors are showing commitment to resolving these. The Ministry of Finance (MoF) started the process of developing evaluations in Zambia. The new Ministry of National Development Planning will use the foundation laid by the MoF to accelerate the development of M&E in Zambia. In the public sector of Zambia, the M&E activities are being undertaken at various levels including national, sub-national and community levels, and by a number of institutions such as Parliament, Government and Non-State Actors.
The author is an independent Consultant as well as an honorary member of the ZaMEA. He is also the Zambian Country Representative for International Organization for Collaborative Outcome Management (IOCOM). He was invited by UNICEF – Nigeria to present his paper at the first conference of the Nigerian Association of Evaluators (NAE) held in Abuja, Nigeria, from 16th to 19th November 2015. This was also an event to celebrate the Evaluation Year and officially launch the NAE.
You can read the full paper here.