From the EvalForward Community: What can evaluation do in terms of capacity development?

FAO Zambia
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From the EvalForward Community: What can evaluation do in terms of capacity development?

The learning benefits of evaluations can go a long way in in developing capacities. EvalForward recently hosted a discussion on the connection between evaluation and capacity development.

Improved evaluation capacities can benefit either the programmes evaluated, leading to better future planning and actions; or the evaluative thinking, methods and tools. 

Participants to this discussion highlighted that some evaluation practices are more conducive to developing capacity than others. Participatory approaches in particular can potentially multiply the contribution to capacities of people involved in the process.

Below is an overview on main points of the discussion:

Evaluation and capacity development

  • Evaluation is first and foremost a learning process that involves the evaluators as well as the ‘evaluand’ stakeholders.
  • Learning is one of the most influential factors for the long-term sustainability of interventions.
  • Capacity development activities during the evaluation process may include, f.i., rebuilding the ToC with the evaluation stakeholders.
  • Learning and therefore capacity development are more limited when the evaluation stakeholders do not engage, or when the evaluator does not involve them. 
  • Evaluation can help identify training needs and provide mechanisms for better and more effective development of capacities.

Participatory approaches in evaluation and capacity development

  • Involving stakeholders in the evaluation process influences the extent to which they will enhance their capacities as a direct result of the evaluation.
  • The soft skills of evaluators, such as communication and facilitation skills, are key when it comes to ensure effective participatory approaches; this may go beyond what can be taught in a classroom and requires a focused work on personal attitudes and a lot of practice.
  • Using consultative groups can be an effective way to involve stakeholders’ representatives throughout the evaluation process. It usually enhances the likelihood of them accepting and acting upon the recommendations.
  • Cited methods applied in participatory evaluations include: Outcome Harvesting, Resource Mapping, Institutional Mapping and Community Farm calendar.
  • The recently released “Inclusive Systemic Evaluation for Gender equality, Environments and Marginalized voices” offers a guide for developing capacities though participatory approaches. 

A systemic and integrated approach across capacity development dimensions is key in supporting an evaluation culture in countries. In Kenya, for instance, evaluations at county level conducted under the EvalSDGs/EvalVision programme are targeting a wide range of stakeholders allowing a vertical integration of capacities and the emerging of an enabling environment for evaluation. Another example is the “Focelac” project in Costa Rica, which is targeting both individual and institutional capacities while at the same time creating a favourable environment for evaluation though promotion of norms and standard, data availability, etc.  

To end with, some members shared their suggestions on how to evaluate training and capacity development, through a simplified version of the KirkPatrick model. Other templates that can be used to track the outcome of training events were also made available during the discussion. 

Participants: Ellen D. Lewis, Nelson Godfried Agyemang, Lal Manavado, Isha Miranda, Josephine Njau, Paul Mendy, Dorothy Lucks, Andrea Meneses and Nataly Salas, Kebba Ngumbo Sima, Naser Qadous, Mesfin Getaneh Woldemichael, Mohammed Lardi, Anis Ben Younes, Jennifer Mutua, Cécile Ebobisse, Elias Segla, Christian Doly, Demis Teklu Abebe