Centrality of evaluators uncertain in post-COVID world
Jul 5, 2021
Rome, 5 July 2021 – “The fact that there was almost an absence of strong reaction from the evaluation community in terms of the COVID-19 crisis means that when things change, and this passes, evaluators may not be as centre-stage as they were pre-crisis.” Dr Indran Naidoo, Director of the Independent Office of Evaluation (IOE) of IFAD, shared this reflection with eminent experts of the evaluation community, during an on-line discussion which took place on 1 July 2021.
Commenting on the nature of transformation in evaluative practices, Dr Naidoo highlighted that as the pandemic forces geographic and institutional borders to crumble, evaluators need to operate in a much more sophisticated way. In the wake of the pandemic, many evaluation outfits went into dormancy at government and international level. Fortunately, those units that remained in the forefront have been able to expand the spectrum of evaluative methodologies. The field is opening up, and is becoming much more transdisciplinary.
The on-line event, organized with the support of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, brought together thought-leaders working at the interface of transformation and evaluation to share, document and map the initiatives, concepts, methods and practices that may help evaluation practice to accelerate large-scale changes and transformations the world urgently needs. Insights centred on utility, complexity, and whether evaluation is for or of transformation. Aaron Zazueta, Independent Evaluator, facilitated the interactions that were enriched by the contributions of Rasmus Heltberg, Lead Evaluation Officer at the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group (IEG), Cristina Magro, Council Member of the International Evaluation Academy (IEAc), and Gabriela Perez Yarahuan, Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Director of the Center for Learning on Evaluation and Results (CLEAR-LAC).
“I’m excited that we communicate evaluations in a much more creative way than we did when I started, 25 years ago. Social media means we can get out messages, we can have the debate in a creative way. It’s a way of truly presenting the value additionality of our work”, noted Dr Naidoo in discussing the evaluative practices for transformation that make him excited about the future of the field. In the same vein, the Director also remarked that evaluation is allowing us to capture and magnify marginal voices. “Working in IFAD, with the rural poor, means that we are able to help them in very real ways by bringing their voices to the table of the governments we evaluate”.
Guided by a series of open questions designed to encourage exploration and exchange, the on-line discussion was the first in a series of virtual events that will map current and future transformative evaluation practices. The events will visualise connections, clarify concepts and compare how they are understood in different fields by exploring different motivations and ways of working, as well as opportunities to collaborate within themes, approaches or locations.