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“The monitoring and evaluation process is essential for governance and the development of evidence-based policies,” announced Mozambique Vice Minster of Finance Dr. Carla Alexandra Oreste do Rosário Fernandes Louveir at the start of a virtual conference focused on the launch of the Global Evaluation Initiative and its potential role in Africa. “Monitoring and evaluation are powerful decision-making tools for managers,” added the Vice Minister.
The Global Evaluation Initiative (GEI) brings together a broad and inclusive coalition of governments, citizens and experts to close a global gap in monitoring and evaluation capacities. According to a recent report, more than half of all countries now have high-quality national development strategies and almost all of them are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but only one third of them have data and systems to track implementation of their policies.
A sense of urgency was palpable during the launch event, “Evidence and the Road to 2030,” which brought together government and independent evaluation experts from across Africa, as well as representatives of international organizations and donor countries. The Sustainable Development Goals were already off track as the 10-year countdown to the 2030 Agenda began this year, and the COVID-19 pandemic is derailing them further, threatening to push millions into poverty.
“We need reliable evidence to guide our path to economic recovery, “ said event participant Godfrey Mashamba, South Africa’s Deputy Director General of the Department of Planning and Monitoring and Evaluation.
Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) can deliver invaluable evidence on what is working and what is not. They can be a powerful compass, helping governments learn from experience and use the lessons to adjust course, scale or target public policies more effectively. There is strong demand from countries in Africa and around the world to strengthen their M&E capacities as critical for rebuilding better from the pandemic and getting back on track to the SDGs.
GEI aims to respond to the demand by building on the capacities, experiences and knowledge of local actors and matching these with coordinated support and global knowledge, according to representatives of two organizations at the heart of the partnership who spoke during the event: Alison Evans, Director-General of Evaluation at the World Bank Group, and Oscar A. Garcia, Director of the Independent Evaluation Office of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
For example, Cabo Verde, a small country of 10 islands off Western Africa, has many sources of data but does not yet have the institutional capacity to process and take advantage of this information, according to panelist Gilson Pina, National Director of Planning at the Cabo Verde Ministry of Finance. GEI will help train and build the capacities of staff to use the data of a new M&E platform that his planning department is building, Pina said.
“The initiative’s goals coincide with our own goals,” Pina said during his intervention at the conference.
Beyond building basic capacity, GEI should serve to “support a culture of evaluation” and encourage shared progress for African countries, said panelist Abdoulaye Gounou, Head of Benin’s Office for the Evaluation of Public Policies and Analysis of Government Action.
“The partnership on evaluation is a very powerful tool for institutionalizing and promoting evaluation in our countries,” Gounou said. “We are learning through our peers and we are progressing together.”
Independent evaluators in Africa can also play a role in expanding M&E capacities in the region and developing African approaches to evaluation, said panelist Fazeela Hoosen, co-chair of the Young and Emerging Evaluators Network of the African Evaluation Association. As the next generation of evaluators, “Young and emerging evaluators are the ground or fertile soil to embed the seeds of what we have been talking about,” she said.
GEI aims to collaborate with the diverse set of stakeholders involved in the development of M&E capacity, from government officials to independent evaluators, and to serve as a global platform for the curating and sharing of local and global M&E knowledge. The partnership has already been in touch with the African Evaluation Association (AfrEA), an umbrella organization for individual evaluators in countries that lack national evaluation associations, said panelist Rosetti Nabbumba of Uganda, president of AfrEA’s Board of Directors. GEI has begun talking with AfrEA about working together to compile a database of African evaluators.
“I’m looking forward to a very collaborative arrangement,” with GEI, Nabbumba said.
The Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) also has high expectations for GEI, with the hope that it will take the evaluation capacity agenda forward with a focus on country-led efforts according to panelist Pernilla Rafiqui, Sida’s Senior Program Manager for Capacity Development.
Rafiqui described GEI as “both timely and well conceptualized,” and added, “we expect GEI to contribute toward better policies for better lives for poor and vulnerable people, and we very much look forward to making this happen.”
In closing remarks, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, Ghana’s Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation, emphasized the urgent need in the uncertain context of COVID-19 for robust M&E systems that enhance the chances of success of government policies.
“The need for and use of evidence in support of decision-making have never been as important as it is now,” Dr. Osei said. “The required improvements in M&E need to be underpinned by what is already in place. The GEI is an example of that kind of strategy, in that it seeks to build on what is already there, and to operate collaboratively and through partnerships.”
With the ten-year countdown to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) now underway, and countries across the globe struggling to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, the capacity to gather data to inform decisions, and to monitor and evaluate the impact of policies, is now an urgent priority. A broad coalition of governments and national and international organizations have agreed to establish the first-ever global partnership focused on addressing the worldwide gaps in monitoring and evaluation capacity.
In June 2020, a range of donor countries and organizations met for the first time in a Co-Creation Workshop to discuss concrete steps towards establishing an inclusive partnership to meet the global demand from developing countries for stronger monitoring and evaluation systems and capacity. The aim of the partnership is to increase coordination for greater impact among the various national and international initiatives aimed at building evaluation capacity, and to pool resources and draw on local and global expertise and knowledge to scale up these efforts.
The workshop was a three-day virtual brainstorming discussion focused on building consensus around a joint vision of the global partnership. Ahead of the workshop, a series of consultations were held with representatives from countries committed to strengthening their M&E systems and capacities, to understand the challenges they face, and how best to support their programs.
“Effective monitoring and evaluation systems are an essential ingredient for advancing the sustainable development goals as they foster accountability and evidence-based policy making,” said Oscar A. Garcia, Director, Independent Evaluation Office, UNDP. “This innovative partnership will take us a step closer in addressing the worldwide demand from countries for stronger M&E systems and capacities for more inclusive and sustainable development results.”
The current demand for evaluation capacity development far outstrips the resources and reach of any single institution, and the impact of the many programs launched to meet this need is diluted by a lack of coordination. Earlier this year, IEG and the UNDP’s Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) signed an agreement on closer collaboration on meeting this need. Recently, IEG also signed an agreement with Canada’s École nationale d'administration publique (ENAP) in order to coordinate actions and pool expertise and resources towards meeting the need for stronger M&E systems and capacity in key, under-served regions of the world.
“The lack of robust monitoring and evaluation systems leaves many countries at a disadvantage and has become an ever more urgent development challenge in the face of the fast-moving coronavirus pandemic,” said Alison Evans, World Bank Vice President and IEG Director-General. “Only by working together will we be able to address the global gaps in evaluation capacity, and ensure no communities or countries are left behind.”
Along with developing a joint vision, the participants in the Co-Creation Workshop also discussed the key lines of business and activities in providing countries support on strengthening their monitoring and evaluation systems and capacities. They also discussed other important aspects of the partnership, such as its operational principles, budgetary and administrative arrangements, and its governance structure. The workshop concluded with an agreement amongst the participants on key steps and actions they will be taking in collaboration with the co-hosts of the workshop - the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) - and other partners towards launching the partnership later this year.
New York City, NY, January 13, 2020 – The Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) today marking the first step towards establishing a global partnership to support evaluation capacity development. The IEO/IEG collaboration comes at a time when the global demand for support to strengthen monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems and capacities is high. Countries need effective M&E systems and capacities in order to track the progress on their national development strategies. The support to meet this demand, while growing, is often limited by scale and a lack of coordination. As part of this new collaboration, IEO and IEG aim to pool resources, share knowledge and expertise, and leverage the comparative advantages of each institution for scaling up current initiatives and coordinating global efforts on building M&E systems and capacity.
"This collaboration comes at a pivotal moment, as the ten year countdown toward the Sustainable Development Goals begins ,” said Indran Naidoo, UNDP Director of the Independent Evaluation Office . "Effective systems of monitoring and evaluation are crit ical for reaching the goals, as they allow countries to base policies on what has proven to work, and to monitor their progress to ensure no one is left behind."
"No single institution has the resources to address the current global gaps in monitoring and evaluation capacity ,” said Alison Evans, World Bank Vice President and IEG Director General ."Addressing the scale of the need will require coordinated efforts by broad coalitions, and this collaboration is a step in that direction, providing a foundation that can be built on.”
Along with coordinating activities and sharing resources, the two organizations will seek to expand their collaboration globally to include the range of countries and institutions involved in developing the capacity for monitoring and evaluation.