Windows on Evaluation Matters: Evaluators from the Global South reflect

At Windows on Evaluation Matters 2021, we were delighted to be joined by thought leaders in the field of evaluation from the Global South through a generous grant from EvalPartners. Below they reflect on their WEM experience, the lessons they learnt and the future of evaluation. We want to thank them all for joining us, and we hope that this is just the start of their journey with the UK Evaluation Society.

Windows on Evaluation Matters is an online event featuring a series of ‘Windows’ on a topic of live interest in the field of evaluation. Our Windows this year were on the imposter phenomenon in evaluation, complexity, the evaluation market, climate change and evidence, and views on evaluation from leaders in the field.

A contribution to capacity building

Windows on Evaluation Matters provided me with a great opportunity to hear, discuss, and meet my fellow professionals online for learning in evaluation, and broaden my contacts in the evaluation sector.

The session on the imposter phenomenon was completely new to me, and it was interesting to learn how it contributes negatively during evaluations and how can we mitigate its impacts.

Similarly, the Window on the dimensions of complexity was very interesting. What the actual concept is and how it helps in evaluation was well presented, and Professor Chris Mowles shared his own assumptions about some of the more radical implications of complexity.

The Evaluation Market session was very close to my heart, as being an evaluator in Pakistan, most of the time I suffer in getting business both at home and abroad. As Bob Williams shared, there might be some skews or biases that are derived systemically in the way evaluations are resourced and commissioned and offered suggestions on how these can be managed.

Overall, it was a very impressive opportunity to broaden my concepts in the evaluation field. It not only made a big contribution to my capacity building also to my employer, the government of Pakistan.

Kazim Abbas Shah, Director M&E of PSDP, Founding Member of Pakistan Evaluation Association (PEA)

Time to relook at the framing of evaluation

As a person of colour belonging to the Indigenous Evaluators Network (EvalIndigenous) and having been a participant of evaluation capacity building development in my home continent, Africa, and others for the past three decades, I had expected the virtual Windows on Evaluation to highlight what the evaluation community is doing to increase inclusiveness so as not to leave anyone behind during this decade of Sustainable Development Goals. I was looking to hear something beyond the culturally responsive techniques that treat indigenous beneficiaries as mere stakeholders that need to be tolerated.

The argument propounded by one of the presenters, Saville Kushner, that evaluators should be disinterested in outcomes could be a luxury for persons that have killed their sense of fairness. Being in Zambia and seeing donor agencies that have camped in territories of vulnerable communities and not seeing any meaningful development or seeing changes of ruling parties with good governance programmes but not matched with practice, it is difficult not to become an activist. I have experienced the systematic power play and the massive underpayment of evaluators of colour as compared to our counterparts from the developed Global North mentioned by one of the presenters, Bob Williams. These are some of the grievances that brought indigenous evaluators together to form EvalIndigenous. Evaluation then becomes political, and we cannot run away from that if we have a conscience and good values (Sheena Crawford). I guess it is time to relook at the framing of evaluation and see if the marketing framing suggested by Bob Williams would help us.

John T. Njovu, Independent Consultant, Zambia

Even experienced evaluators have insecurities

As a key learning, I will take away the reaffirmation of evaluation and its transversality. And as was said, it is more than a set of methods and metrics; it deals with complex systems and provides information under uncertain conditions to decision-makers.

In the highlights, I underline the first lecture on imposter syndrome. I enjoyed John LeValle’s exposition. He had a clear, objective, and simple visual presentation and knew how to interact with the public without giving the impression of reading a paper. Furthermore, it was interesting to note that even evaluators with years of career have their insecurities. Personally, as a Young and Emerging Evaluator (YEE), I found this comforting. I also enjoyed the discussion about the contribution analysis method presented by Antonia Caldeira-Saraiva.

Jéssica Sbroglia, Young and Emerging Evaluator, EvalYouth Brazil

We need to promote indigenous-led evaluation

An indigenous-led evaluation was recognised as one ‘Window of Evaluation’ by the UK Evaluation Society. With the support of EvalIndigenous, an international network under the umbrella of EvalPartners which seeks to promote indigenous evaluation and culturally responsive evaluation within indigenous contexts, I had the great honor to hear, discuss, interrogate, and meet evaluation professionals and practitioners. Among others, Bob Williams, a well-known evaluator, and advocate of using system thinking and recognising indigenous capacity and knowledge in evaluation design in Latin America. With regards to the supply and demand-side of evaluation in the service of equity in international development, I confirmed the need to promote equity-oriented methods and increase capacity building in the Global South.

I was particularly interested in joining this unique online event because, as an evaluator, I firmly believe in the need to promote indigenous-led evaluation to improve the lives of indigenous people and optimise welfare outcomes for all disadvantaged in the Global South. Particularly in Guatemala, which faces one of the most worrisome food security concerns in the Western Hemisphere.

Héctor Tuy, EvalIndigenous member, Research, Evaluation and Performance Monitoring Consultant, Guatemala