Evaluations under COVID and pathways to food security at forefront of Asian Evaluation Week discussions - IOE
Rome, 9 September 2021 – The constraints that the COVID-19 pandemic has posed on evaluators as well as the opportunities to introduce changes in international evaluation practices, and the factors impacting rural poor farmers’ ability to adapt to climate change were the two salient issues that senior representatives of IFAD’s Independent Office of Evaluation (IOE) brought to the discussion table during the 2021 Asian Evaluation Week (AEW).
This year, the AEW took place virtually from 6 to 10 September 2021. The event was jointly sponsored by the Ministry of Finance of the People’s Republic of China, through the Asia-Pacific Finance and Development Institute (AFDI), and the Asian Development Bank’s Independent Evaluation Department. Speaking on behalf of IOE were the Office’s Deputy Director, Fabrizio Felloni, and Lead Evaluation Officer, S. Nanthikesan.
‘Transformative pathways to Food Security in the 21st Century – Resilience to Climate Change’ was the title of the session to which Nanthikesan contributed on 6 September. In his presentation, Nanthikesan put the spotlight on the state-of-the-art evaluative evidence regarding the socio-technical, societal and policy barriers limiting the ability of rural poor farmers to build resilience to climate shocks. The business-as-usual approach to climate adaptation is over. Success in scaling up adaptation interventions will largely depend on government ownership, high-profile partnerships, and engagement at design. However, many governments face significant challenges to incentivize sustainable climate adaptation responses of smallholder farmers.
Juha Uitto, Director of the Independent Evaluation Office, Global Environmental Facility, moderated the session, which also featured presentations by Jerry Knox, Professor at Cranfield University, and Laura Silici, Research Analyst and Independent Consultant, and drew insights from distinguished panel members, H.E. Sani Redi, State Minister, Ministry of Agriculture of Ethiopia, and Sheikh Md. Mohsin, Additional Chief Engineer, Ministry of Local Government of Bangladesh.
‘Two years of evaluations under COVID: lessons and opportunities’ was the title of the session to which Fabrizio Felloni contributed on 7 September. The approach taken by IOE to offset the challenges and capitalize on the opportunities stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic was the focus of the presentation that Felloni delivered alongside Roberto LaRovere, Independent Consultant with IOE. Virtual interviews work well with many stakeholders, and are now socially accepted by senior government officials. At the same time, GIS data and images are useful for projects on infrastructure, irrigation, pastoral corridors and agroforestry, although some changes are not detectable from the sky. However, totally virtual evaluations, without national consultant visits, should be pursued only in extreme cases. There remains no perfect substitute for country and field visits.
A presentation by Jos Vaessen, Methodology Advisor, Independent Evaluation Group of the World Bank, further enriched a session that benefitted from the perspectives of panel members Luthfur Rahman, Additional Chief Engineer and Project Director, Local Government Engineering Department of Bangladesh, and Sanjeev Sridharan, Country Lead, Learning Systems and Systems Evaluation at the India Country Office of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Maya Vijayaraghavan, Methods Advisor, Independent Evaluation Department of the Asian Development Bank, moderated the discussions.
The theme for the 2021 AEW was ‘Transformational Evaluation: Moving from Uncertainties to Resilience’. This recognizes the role of evaluation in providing evidence-based information, lessons and recommendations on development issues to help address short and long-term challenges and current uncertainties towards resilient and sustainable development. Government officials, representatives of international organizations, and evaluation experts interested to exchange knowledge, experience and the latest thinking and innovation in evaluation attended the event virtually, connecting remotely from across globe.
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