Original Research

Adapting realist evaluation for Made in Africa evaluation criteria

Nombeko P. Mbava, Sarah Chapman
African Evaluation Journal | Vol 8, No 1 | a508 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aej.v8i1.508 | © 2020 Nombeko P. Mbava, Sarah Chapman | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 July 2020 | Published: 09 December 2020

About the author(s)

Nombeko P. Mbava, Institute of Monitoring and Evaluation, Faculty of Commerce, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Sarah Chapman, Institute of Monitoring and Evaluation, Faculty of Commerce, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Globally, the theory and practice of evaluation largely emerged from Euro-Western worldviews and continue to evolve in a manner that addresses the needs of Euro-Western interests. The extent to which the closely held values and general outlook of diverse stakeholders underpins how evaluation is processed and designed is interrogated, given the global and multicultural nature of evaluation.

Objectives: We summarised contemporary debates on Made in Africa evaluation and reflected on what these debates might mean for evaluation practice. We also reflected on what it might mean to adapt a quintessentially Euro-Western evaluation method as an integral part of indigenising evaluation theory and practice in African contexts.

Method: Research that adopted a case study approach and a realist evaluation meta-analysis framework was conducted in South Africa, which aimed to provide better understanding of the methodologies and approaches used in past programme impact evaluations. The aim was to reflect on the usefulness of evaluation findings to policy decision makers and to determine the suitability of the realist evaluation method in the implementation of evaluations.

Results: While potential constraints were involved in its application, the realist evaluation held promise in addressing some of the requirements of Made in Africa evaluation. A model of an adapted realist evaluation cycle was presented. It was suggested that the model might enable better implementation of the realist evaluation framework in some African contexts.

Conclusion: Adaptation of evaluation models, theories and instruments, towards contextual relevance and cultural appropriateness was a progressive continuum towards originating indigenous African evaluation approaches.


Keywords

Africa-centric evaluation; adaptation; realist evaluation; evaluation cycle; evaluation model; Made in Africa evaluation

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