Original Research

UN Women’s experience with strengthening evaluation systems in Africa: Enhancing quantity, quality and use of evaluations

Caspar Merkle
African Evaluation Journal | Vol 4, No 1 | a127 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aej.v4i1.127 | © 2016 Caspar Merkle | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 March 2015 | Published: 02 December 2016

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Caspar Merkle, UN Women Regional Office for Eastern and Southern Africa, Nairobi, Kenya


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Abstract

Background: Following the adoption of the Women Evaluation Policy in 2012, a series of systems and mechanisms were introduced in the organisation to strengthen the evaluation function at both central and decentralised levels. They were based on a systemic approach and a Theory of Change for building an enabling environment for evaluation in UN Women.
Objectives: The purpose of this article was to analyse progress made and challenges with respect to establishing evaluation systems and institutionalising an evaluation culture in the UN Women Africa region.
Method: The article draws on UN Women evaluation performance data collected over the past five years, discussions and practical experience by the author of working on evaluation with UN Women since 2009. It also analyses UN Women documents and the broader literature on the topic.
Results: The findings illustrate that the different mechanisms to strengthen the evaluation function in UN Women show progress in the Africa region on four out of the five selected evaluation performance indicators. The Theory of Change to strengthen the UN Women evaluation function is largely validated by the wider literature on evaluation use. External assessments confirm that the UN Women evaluation function is sound overall. Conclusion: The article concludes that evaluation performance indicators only provide a partial snapshot of the many different factors that help or undermine evaluative thinking and a learning culture within an organisation. Institutional systems and mechanisms are necessary but not sufficient for nurturing an evaluation culture and ensuring utilisation of evaluation for better development effectiveness.

Keywords

Evaluation systems; Evaluation culture

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