A recent panel discussion at the Journees Bèninoise de l’Èvaluation Benin, in Cotonou, shed light on some of the factors affecting institutionalisation of national evaluation systems in Francophone West Africa. The panel, ‘Assessment and perspectives of the institutionalization of the evaluation function’, discussed progress in building the systems and structures for a government evaluation system with delegates from Guinea, Morocco, Niger, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Togo. A summary of their presentations is below.
In Benin a baseline study was conducted on M&E culture in 2011/12, which resulted in the drafting of the National Evaluation Policy (2012-2021). The baseline study focused on how evaluations had been conducted in the past, and the system was found to be dominated by technical and financial donors, not government owned and therefore not entrenched in the habits of those designing or managing programmes and projects. The policy was drafted to ensure responsiveness to national priorities, and to further embed M&E at the local and federal level. The Government began funding and allocating resources to evaluations, including the establishment of the Secretary General and Evaluation Council.
In Guinea, Civil Society Organisations’ (CSOs) demand for accountability against corruption and service delivery led to initial moves to institutionalise their National Evaluation system by highlighting the issues and challenges of governance. The Prime Minister commissioned a baseline study on how Public Policy Evaluations were done, seeking recommendations on how to better institutionalise M&E. The baseline showed that there was no legal basis for M&E, no Act and no custodian for it. A National workshop was convened in 2017 which took the case of Benin as an example to establish its NES. Recommendations being followed regarding the acceptance of M&E as a key function of government and governance, the establishment of series of responsible authorities such as an Office for Public Policy Evaluation. Click here for the french presentation
In Morocco, Parliament has been the strongest voice calling for evaluation of public programmes and policies. This has resulted in the Executive prioritising the development of a national evaluation policy. As part of this process, in 2007, the Minister of General Affairs and Governance oversaw a study on the institutionalisation of evaluations of public policy. This has resulted in M&E policies being put in place a number of Ministries and the inclusion of evaluations in the national budget. Whether or not Morocco has an approved National Evaluation Policy (NEP), is still contested by its very definition and many feel it is not clear and precise, especially those in civil society. Demand for evaluation from CSOs is strong in Morocco (majority of which undertake their own evaluations), however, many CSOs are concerned that there is still no existing NEP in Morocco as it is yet to be adopted, despite ongoing implementation to that effect. Despite the lack of a comprehensive study on the supply of evaluators in Morocco, it is widely recognised that both within the public service and civil society, there is a shortage of capacity to both conduct and manage evaluations. In this instance, supply constraints are seen to be affecting government demand.
In Niger, the structure of the political system is similar to France in that they have a semi-presidential regime which gives more power to Parliament. Allegations of mismanagement of public funds led to the creation of a vocal demand for the evaluation of public policy and thus the establishment of a national evaluation system. The evaluation function has seen progress since 2006, although they have not yet adopted a national evaluation policy. A draft has been written and it is hoped that it will be adopted in late-2018. Niger has been working with Benin and Uganda to develop its NEP and work through ways on how to institutionalise it.
Since 2011, the Government has been working on improving the reliability of data – it was noted that until then, government had not been monitoring programmes which had increased the burden of CSOs to track service delivery. A national workshop should be held this year to discuss the ideas of the NEP before it can be adopted.
Niger conducts mostly qualitative process evaluations. In 2015 two evaluations on the economic and social development plan were done, which contributed immensely to the New National Development Plan 2021. On the supply side, it was noted there is a shortage of capacity in evaluations. Most of the demand comes from the donor partners and some international NGO’s who finance certain development projects, however, the shortage of supply is one of the biggest problems in conducting quality evaluations in the country.
Burkina Faso has had a similar experience to Benin in setting up their M&E system, however, for them, the biggest demand for evaluations is found in CSO. The National Commission for Evaluations was set up in Burkina Faso as a means to strengthen the institutionalisation of evaluations in Government. Although government does conduct evaluations internally through the relevant ministries, the majority of this is done by donor agencies. Process evaluations are the most popular evaluations to be conducted, however, the lack of resources leads inability to conduct regular evaluations. The government also initiates and supports bi-annual evaluation days like Benin, called the Journee Burkina d’evaluation.
In Cote d’Ivoire a lack of coordination of government programmes prompted the search for a establishing a better system of management and the need for institutionalising evaluations. As part of their journey to institutionalise M&E, they have worked closely with the African Development Bank, and they are looking at how to include evaluations in their national constitution. Some process and impact evaluations are done, though mainly through donor agencies – it is believed that without a national evaluation policy there will be no institutionalisation, or allocation of funds to systematic evaluations.
Forming part of Vision 2030, Togo has been working towards institutionalising evaluations since 2009. It established a national policy of procurement to increase transparency and accountability of conducting evaluations through independent consultants. Funding has been a challenge to continued and scaled-up M&E, however, they continue progress in establishing the NES. A recently commissioned feasibility study for public investment will be showing how much will be required and the next steps for Togo to take in institutionalising its evaluation systems.