Asserting independence whilst promoting engagement: the path of the Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD - IOE
Abidjan, 29 March 2023 – The experience of the Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD (IOE) shows that it is possible to assert and solidify the independence of an evaluation outfit whist increasing the impact of its evaluative work by promoting engagement with senior management. Thus, safeguarding the independence of an evaluation function within a large organization, on the one hand, and fostering engagement within said organization, on the other, are not irreconcilable aspirations. Indran A. Naidoo, IOE Director, explained how IOE achieved these results during his panel presentation at the Evaluation Cooperation Group (ECG) Spring 2023 meeting.
The ECG Spring meeting took place at the headquarters of the African Development Bank (AfDB) – current Chair of the ECG – in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, on 27 – 28 March 2023. As customary, the event brought together the heads of the evaluation offices of the ECG member institutions and observers. The event offered participants the opportunity to focus on the ECG strategic directions, in addition to address four specific discussion themes, namely opportunities and challenges to improve evaluation influence; evaluating policy-based loans and budget support; development effectiveness; and innovative methods in evaluation. The two-day gathering was followed by an ECG Spring webinar titled ‘Food security and broader resilience using evaluation lens’, on 29 March 2023.
Dr Naidoo and Fabrizio Felloni, respectively Director and Deputy Director of IOE, represented IOE during the ECG meetings. In particular, Dr Naidoo delivered a presentation during the first discussion theme of the event and served as the Chair of the Spring webinar, while Mr Felloni acted as a panellist in both the fourth discussion theme of the event and in the Spring webinar.
In his panel presentation, on 27 March 2023, Dr Naidoo delved into the approach that IOE has taken to ensure a successful marriage between ‘independence’ and ‘engagement’. Over the past two years, IOE embarked in several joint undertakings with IFAD Management. These included a joint IOE-Management task force to prepare the Evaluation Policy 2021, and the co-development of the 2022 Evaluation Manual – a first in the history of the organization –, in addition to closer coordination and cooperation in learning events, workshops and capacity building. A transformative approach to the Office’s communication and outreach has supported these efforts, through a suite of cutting-edge tools, resources and platforms that have created an enabling environment in which opportunities for on-going dialogue and exchange have flourished.
This innovative approach to heightened engagement and communication is well-balanced with the safeguards to IOE’s continued behavioural and organizations independence, enshrined in the Evaluation Policy, which ensure that the office continues to deliver its work without any fear, favour or prejudice.
On 28 March 2023, in the context of the fourth theme of the event ‘innovative methods in evaluation’, Mr Felloni delivered a panel presentation titled ‘harnessing opportunities from information technology for evaluation – with some words of caution’. Mr Felloni discussed the experience of IOE in the application of geo-based data for evaluation before, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, with examples drawn from evaluations carried out in Georgia, Mexico, Nepal, Bangladesh and Kyrgyzstan. In this context, IOE’s Deputy Director also shared insights on the use of remote interviews, including remote participatory videos.
Following the closure of the ECG 2023 Spring meeting, the ECG webinar titled ‘Food security and broader resilience using evaluation lens’ offered an opportunity to focus what interventions, projects, and programs are most effective and efficient in ensuring food security and resilience. Dr Naidoo moderated the event, which moved from the premise that appropriate evidence and lessons learned from past evaluation exercises of food security interventions need to be drawn for better design of interventions and quality enhancement of future food security programs. Discussions looked at four fundamental aspects of food security, namely availability, access, utilization, and stability.
Speaking at the seminar, Mr Felloni shared the experience of the Evaluation Offices of FAO, IFAD, UNIDO and WFP, who worked on an evaluation evidence summary on food security during times of crisis, in 2020. In his presentation, the IOE Deputy Director addressed interventions aimed at ensuring social protection and basic services, aimed at supporting economic response and recovery, and aimed at supporting social cohesion and vulnerable groups.
The ECG was established in 1996 to promote a more harmonized approach to evaluation methodology. Members work together on joint and meta-evaluations and discuss such evaluation issues as the independence of evaluation offices in MDBs, evaluability assessment, the results agenda of MDBs, and lessons learning and dissemination. The African Development Bank is the current Chair of the Group. IFAD served as Chair of the ECG in 2017, and is scheduled to serve as Chair again in 2025.
For further information, please contact Alexander Voccia [here]
- To access Dr Naidoo’s presentation on ‘Independence and Engagement at IOE’, please click here.
- To access Mr Felloni’s presentation on ‘Harnessing opportunities from information technology for evaluation – with some caution’, please click here.
- To access Mr Felloni’s presentation on ‘Evidence from a UN Evaluation Group Summary on Food Security During Crisis Situations’, please click here.