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The Chair opens up for questions for the panellists: Karina Barrios (Mexico), Damase Sossou (Benin), Timothy Lubanga (Uganda)

The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) in the Presidency was established in January 2010, and started operating from April 2010. In 2011 DPME started to develop the concept for a National Evaluation System, and a National Evaluation Policy Framework was approved by Cabinet on 23 November 2011. The first National Evaluation Plan was approved by Cabinet in June 2012, and the first evaluations started in October 2012, focusing on a limited number of strategic priorities. To date, a total of 59 evaluations have been implemented or are underway, with 36 now completed, covering over R143 billion of government expenditure. The NES is now being rolled out to provinces (with 8 provincial evaluation plans adopted), and departments.

Recently the DPME commissioned an evaluation of the National Evaluation System. The purpose of the evaluation is to understand how the system has been working over the years; what difference it is making in programmes and policies which have been evaluated and the stakeholders involved; and where it can be strengthened.

Last week the findings of this evaluation were validated in a two-day workshop. Twende Mbele used this a peer-learning opportunity and invited a number of colleagues from Zambia, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Benin and Mexico to attend.

During a reflective session held at the end of the workshop, CONEVAL (Mexico) proved to be the grandmother of evaluation systems, having had theirs established for over 20 years, and conducting more than 2000 evaluation. Delegates were able to learn from the experience of adapting the system over time, and how to elaborate guidance on more than 15 different types of evaluation within the system.

Capacity development efforts within all countries was seen as an important area of the system that is currently under-resourced, and insufficiently conceptualized. The need to build-in short, medium, and long-term solutions was felt strongly. Another challenge expressed by Kenya, for example, was the capacity to use evaluations; however in this we felt a number of different opportunities could be exploited eg. government networks, think tanks, public accountability mechanisms and legislation.

In an effort to work with countries on these, Twende is funding 15 participants from 7 countries to the upcoming CLEAR-AA Winter School, will be running a pilot course for senior officials on Evidence-based Policy-making, has trained 76 parliamentarians in three countries on M&E for Oversight, and is part funding online courses in Theory of Change and Results-based Management. Particularly exciting, is the upcoming National Evaluation Policy workshop being hosted in the week of the South African M&E Association conference in Johannesburg, in October this year. Stay tuned for more details.

Ms Matodzi Amisi (DPME) and Ms Zeenat Ishmail (Western Cape Provincial Government)

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