Facing new challenges in the field of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) requires innovation.
This was the theme that brought together high-level representatives from Benin, Senegal, Tunisia and Morocco, who shared examples of innovations in their national monitoring and evaluation systems in an online panel organised during the gLOCAL Evaluation Week 2022. Some of the M&E innovations presented were procedural, such as the reform undertaken in Tunisia to improve the management and evaluation of troubled projects, which led to the development of the Unified Framework for the Evaluation of Public Projects and the informatization of their monitoring. Other innovations presented, however, were methodological, such as the rapid evaluations and facilitated evaluations in Benin. Facilitated evaluations combine the internal approach of entrusting project managers with the conduct of the evaluation with the external approach of independent evaluations in order to improve ownership of the process: the project teams evaluated are supported by an external senior consultant who ensures the objectivity of the results.
The important role played by monitoring in responding to the real-time requirements of policy makers was also highlighted, as mentioned in the blog that triggered this panel. Morocco also shared the promising results of a unique experience to bring together several actors around an evaluation champion, namely the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), which is developing evaluation capacity through a research partnership, funding evaluations of projects in the field of employment and strengthening the evaluation culture in the country.
The panelists from Senegal and Benin also highlighted innovative aspects at the institutional level, including the need for political support at the highest level, which in their case has been achieved through the creation of evaluation structures attached to the Presidency of the Republic. Options for promoting citizen participation in public policy evaluation processes were also discussed, as in the case of the ongoing evaluation of the Senegalese health system. The contribution and role of networks and associations of evaluators at the national level was welcomed by the panel participants as a driver of innovation in evaluation.
The establishment of digital platforms at national level was also highlighted as necessary to democratise access to evaluation processes and results. None of the countries represented in the panel currently has a website to centralize evaluation results and make them available to all, except for the recent initiative of the website of the Bureau de l'Evaluation des Politiques Publiques de la République du Bénin. All these innovative approaches, tools and institutional options aim to increase the credibility of evaluation results.
In conclusion, the examples from the four countries discussed reveal that the institutionalization of M&E and the incorporation of innovations require support from the highest levels of government in order to effectively address the need for evidence to inform public policy making. At the same time, capacity building and the participation of different actors, and even the democratisation of tools for a wider appropriation of the practice of evaluation, remain key ingredients of the evaluation process at the national level.