The African Evaluation Association (AfrEA) was founded in 1999 and is therefore one of the oldest regional associations in the world. Their primary aim is to increase evaluation opportunities by building strategic bridges for African evaluators to connect, network and share experiences.
This year AfrEA organized its 8th International Conference in Kampala city, Uganda. The aim of the conference is to promote exchange between researchers, academics, emerging evaluators and evaluation practitioners not only from Africa, but from all over the world.
One of the main themes of the conference was South–South collaboration, led by AfrEA and sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The conference was organised based on a general acknowledgement that the existing discontent in the current evaluation profession needs to be addressed in collaboration with leading evaluators from the ‘Global South’. The Global South is a term that refers to countries and regions that are experiencing social and economic changes and often have large inequalities in living standards, life expectancy, and access to resources. It includes for instance countries like China, South Africa and Brazil. This discontent in the evaluation profession for instance relates to the dominance of the philosophical paradigm of the Global North which places an overwhelming emphasis on development interventions to be accountable to donors rather than the people and lack of representation for evaluators from the South. At the conference there was general agreement that there isn’t sufficient understanding of how different contexts and cultures influence the success of development works.
Opening speech by Adeline Sibanda, AfrEA President and Elvis Fraser, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
At the conference, regional associations from Africa (AfrEA), Asia-Pacific (APEA), Latin America (RELAC) and South Asia therefore met to discuss how to promote ‘culturally embedded’ evaluation. That is, evaluation based on our values, worldviews, contexts, insights and experiences. We also discussed how to increase the effect that evaluation done in the Global South could have on development results.
Board and general members from the Asia-Pacific Evaluation Association (APEA)
In Africa, a body of literature on the topic of evaluation rooted in local cultures has been emerging over the past decade. The literature and associated strategies are known as the ‘Made in Africa Evaluation’ movement. In her presentation, Professor Bagele Chilisa discussed the importance of embedding evaluation in African cultures and of ‘de-colonising’ evaluation. It also became clear at the conference that there are initiatives to produce similar papers from Latin America and Asia.
At the end of the conference, participants were fully supportive of the strength that South-South collaboration can bring to bear on the evaluation profession, and on the work started through the ‘Made in Africa Evaluation’ movement. This was also formal recognition that a ‘Made in Africa’ and Global South initiative is underway may help us to progress and create a framework to facilitate development.
In order to propel the initiative forward, we agreed that we need strong and committed leadership and coordination. We should also identify the core activities that would benefit from collaboration between regions in the South, and demonstrate the strength of South-South cooperation; as the participants noted: “the Global South should be in the driver’s seat”. The Mongolian Evaluation Network will continue contributing to these efforts along with our colleagues from APEA and other regional evaluation associations.