AFREA Conference Blog

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At the end of March 2017, Kampala, Uganda, witnessed a global convergence of hundreds of people coming from all over the world in the name of African Evaluation. The annual African Evaluation Association (AfrEA) Conference brought together researchers, academics, emerging evaluators and practitioners to answer questions on how to monitor and evaluate progresses toward the achievement of the SDGs within the continent under the theme, “Made in Africa”.

8th AfrEA Conference: fostering partnerships toward the achievement of the SDGs: “No one left behind”.
At the end of March 2017, Kampala, Uganda, witnessed a global convergence of hundreds of people coming from all over the world in the name of African Evaluation. The annual African Evaluation Association (AfrEA) Conference brought together researchers, academics, emerging evaluators and practitioners to answer questions on how to monitor and evaluate progresses toward the achievement of the SDGs within the continent under the theme, “Made in Africa”.

During his keynote address, Marco Segoni, Director of Evaluation Office of UNWOMEN and chair of UNEG, clearly stated that the SDGs represent “the biggest opportunity and the biggest challenge to the evaluation community”. The question o be addressed is, we have gone through this process before with the Millennium Development Goals, so what can we do differently this time? How do we hold ourselves accountable in meeting the SDG targets locally, nationally and globally and how will we evaluate the SDG impact?

According to Marco Segoni this is where the role of evaluation plays an important part. The international community is demanding a rigorous results-based management of the SDG targets and the evaluation community is the body that can hold partners accountable in their commitments, understand where progress has been made and where it is still lacking, and direct future steps towards the achievement of Agenda 2030. Mahesh Patel, Founding President of the African Evaluation Association (AfrEA), echoed similar sentiments that placed the need of the international evaluation community to address the future of evaluation by focusing on innovation, independence, feedback and communication. Additionally, the process to evaluate SDG implementation and impact should be inclusive, equity focused, using a gender lens, universal and developmental. The evaluation community identified the need to commit itself to adopting robust methods and approaches.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iW08qXAZn-E (UNWOMEN Evaluation Video).

Toward the end of the conference, following both the workshops and years of talks, a South-South Evaluation Partnership was launched by bringing together the following regional evaluation organizations: Asia-Pacific Evaluation Association, Caribbean Evaluators International, Latin American and Caribbean Network of Evaluation, South East Asia Evaluation Association, Pacific Islands Evaluation Association, and African Evaluation Association. The aim of this partnership is to strengthen the visibility of both evaluation practices and theories from the Global South to contribute to the enhancement and improvement of the field globally.

Figure 1- Panel for the launch of the South-South Evaluation Partnership

IFAD’s – CLEAR Partnership
What is IFAD doing in this field toward the achievement of the SDGs? Are we doing enough in leveraging effective partnerships and fostering results-based management? Are we empowering IFAD’s staff to improve monitoring and evaluation capacity to take evidence-based development decisions?

The IFAD-CLEAR Initiative seeks to answer these questions. During the AfrEA conference, IFAD and CLEAR had the opportunity to present their initiative, which aims at strengthening monitoring and evaluation capacity in the field by training and certifying project staff in M&E in rural development. Established in 2010, The Centres for Learning on Evaluation and Results (CLEAR) is a unique global monitoring and evaluation (M&E) capacity development program that brings together academic institutions, think tanks, foundations, multi and bilateral development organizations to promote the use of evidence in decision-making. As a partnership, the two organisations will make a compelling contribution to the achievement of the SDGs.

From Contribution to Attribution: results measurement to results management.

This project will be delivered through the 6 Global CLEAR centres applying a model on “evolving focus on results”. Moving closer to the targets we have set for ourselves through the Development Effectiveness Framework.

The initiative was met with great excitement by the participants, who commended the efforts in bridging the existing gap in professionalization of M&E within the rural development sector. Parliamentarians, Voluntary Organizations for Professional evaluation (VOPEs) representatives, trainers and researchers expressed their interest in supporting the success of the initiative and it was clear by this enthused group of participants that technical assistance was long overdue to evolve M&E skills within the rural development sector. Furthermore, the public good character of this initiative will ensure that learning materials developed through the creation of the curriculum will be accessible to the wider public for instruction and consultation.

A wind of interest and innovation is bringing the field of monitoring and evaluation at the forefront of the challenge of realizing Agenda 2030 and IFAD is taking the right steps towards achieving this direction. Through initiatives like the IFAD-CLEAR one, we are making ourselves facilitators for innovation, professionalization, and partnership-creation in the rural development field.

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