Dr Thomas Munthali, Director of Knowledge, Monitoring and Evaluation (KME) at the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) says that evaluation is one of the missing links in enabling Africa to take charge of her development. Speaking on Thursday at the Zimbabwe Evaluation Association (ZEA) Regional Conference supported by ACBF and other development partners, Dr. Munthali called on African countries to prioritise evaluation as it enables the tracking of development progress and provide orientation as to where intervention has to take place.
“The vision of the ACBF is to see Africa capable of achieving its own development and Evaluation will enable Africa to do so by supporting what works and learning from what does not work,” he said. “It should be important to note that data is at the centre of evaluation, and ACBF has supported national statistical offices (NSOs) across Africa to develop their data collection and analysis capacity.” he added.
The African Capacity Building Foundation has been at the forefront of capacity development on the continent. In Zimbabwe, ACBF funded the transformation of Zimbabwe’s National Statistical System (NSS) to support the formulation and monitoring of evidence-based policies and strategies for national development. ACBF has also supported Zimbabwe Economic Policy Analysis and Research Unit (ZEPARU), a policy think tank to provide evidence-based policies and development strategies. ACBF has also funded capacity building initiatives for Poverty Reduction Programming, Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation (PRIME) in Burundi, Sierra Leone and Mozambique and many other countries. Efforts at building capacity to track development results have also gone beyond countries to regional levels. For example, ACBF has been supporting the Macroeconomic and Financial Management Institute of Eastern and Southern Africa (MEFMI) - a regional debt management institute.
Many African countries lack capacity in general in gathering data and evaluating development programs. According to the preliminary findings of the 2015 Africa Capacity Report, Capacity, in its various dimensions, is still a problem for the continent.
The ZEA training workshop and conference, which drew participants from Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi, South Africa and Zambia ran on the theme “Evaluation for All”.
2015 was declared as the International Year of Evaluation at the Third International Conference on National Evaluation Capacities organized in São Paulo, Brazil on 29 Sep- 2 Oct 2013. The EvalYear celebration in Zimbabwe was aimed at positioning evaluation at the center of the development discourse by advocating and promoting evaluation and evidence-based policy making at regional, national and local levels.
Specifically in relation to this conference, ACBF showed commitment towards stimulating the demand for and use of evaluation to inform development discourse and interventions across the continent in accordance with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between ACBF and African Evaluation Association (AfrEA) in April 2015.
ZEA is the Zimbabwean chapter of AfrEA whose mandate is to support evaluations that contribute to real and sustained development in Africa and to promote Africa-rooted and Africa-led evaluation through sharing African evaluation perspectives.