Independent evaluation makes IFAD a more credible institution - IOE
Rome, 6 October 2023 – “It is IFAD, not just IOE, that becomes a more credible institution, with an independent evaluation”, explained Dr Indran A. Naidoo, Director of the Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD (IOE), in his opening statement during an event organized to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the independence of IOE. IFAD was the first UN agency with an independent office and one of the first in the International Financial Institutions to have a fully-fledged evaluation outfit.
Held at IFAD headquarters, on 6 October 2023, the commemorative gathering saw the active involvement of a host of high-level attendees. Participants featured the distinguished representatives of the IFAD Evaluation Committee (EC), including Ms Sandra Paola Ramirez Valenzuela, First Secretary, Mulitlateral Affairs, Rome-based UN agencies, Mexico, and Dr Yaya Adisa Olaitan Olaniran, Permanent Representative of Nigeria to Rome-based UN agencies. Nigel Brett, Director of the Operational Policy and Results Division at IFAD, and Dr Claudia ten Have, Director of the Office of the Secretary and Secretary of IFAD, engaged in the event, as did members of IFAD Senior Management. IOE staff also partook in the celebrations.
“Our office has served IFAD well. Just to mention a few, IOE was instrumental in fostering major institutional changes of IFAD, such as direct supervision, field presence, decentralization and the reform of IFAD's financial architecture. At the operational level, we provide a wealth of analysis that can lead to far stronger country strategies and project design, if there is commitment to follow up”, highlighted Dr Naidoo.
Members of the EC, praised IOE for the dedication with which it has upheld the value of independence over the past two decades, and congratulated the Office for the rigour of its outputs, which has seen a further surge in quality and quantity over the last two years. Delegates also applauded IFAD for putting in place solid safeguards that protect the independence of IOE, and for diligently upholding them. Maintaining the independence construct that permeates the functioning of the Office is essential to ensuring the continued production of credible, high-quality and useful evaluations.
By the same token, Mr Brett and Ms ten Have were equally appreciative of IOE’s work, and spoke highly of the professionalism, commitment and integrity with which the Office pursues its mandate to promote both accountability and learning at IFAD. To this end, IOE successfully balances its independence with the ability to engage fruitfully with all its stakeholders, including IFAD Management, throughout the evaluative process.
“Independence is not synonymous with isolation. We do want to live in an ivory tower. Evaluation is most fruitful when it addresses real problems and helps solve them. We want to preserve independence of analysis and judgment but we want to engage with our stakeholders. Our evaluation process has many opportunities for them to signal their priorities and share their experience”, clarified Dr Naidoo, in this regard.
The roots of IOE’s independence can be traced back to 2003, when the Executive Board (EB) approved the first IFAD Evaluation Policy. From that time, the Office reported to the EB directly, with the support of the EC. Independence means that the responsibility for the conduct of independent evaluations rests exclusively with IOE. It also implies that the Director and staff of IOE have the authority to communicate and interact directly with members of the Board, with in-country partners, and with others outside the Fund, as appropriate for the undertaking of evaluations. The Director has the authority to issue and publish final evaluation reports without prior clearance from anyone outside IOE. Furthermore, in light of the importance of the independence of IOE, the selection, appointment and possible dismissal of the Director is the sole responsibility of the EB.
Two decades since the historic first Evaluation Policy, today, more than ever, independence remains the unmovable bedrock of IOE, as the Office continues to grow and evolve, seeking to enhance its international reputation. Over the past couple of years, IOE has succeeded in asserting itself as a key player in global networks such as the Evaluation Cooperation Group, the UN Evaluation Group and the Global Evaluation Initiative. Work delivered meets the highest international methodological standards, and produces reports with recommendations to optimize impact of IFAD operations. In April 2021, all these reports became publicly accessible through IOE’s own website, in a move that reflects a radical shift of the Office’s approach to communication and outreach. IOE not only produces independent documents, but is now also able to independently manage the sharing and dissemination of evaluation findings in a continuously creative, engaging and user-friendly fashion.
In years to come, the focus of IOE’s renewed efforts will be on forging IFAD’s corporate culture as a transparent, learning oriented and accountable organization; promoting transformative evaluation that reflect the scale and scope of IFAD operations; cementing evaluation dialogues with all stakeholders; and retaining and deepening IOE’s position as an internationally recognized leader in the evaluation of rural development programmes, policies and strategies.
For further information, please contact Alexander Voccia [here]
- To access the opening remarks of Dr Indran A. Naidoo, IOE Director, please click here.
To access the brochure 'More than a journey: 20 years of independence', please click here.
To access the video interview with Fabrizio Felloni, IOE Deputy Director, on ‘Reflections on the evolution of independence of IOE’, please click here.
- To access the latest IFAD Evaluation Policy, please click here.
- To access IOE’s first multi-year evaluation strategy, please click here.