Original Research - Special Collection: Made in Africa Evaluation

Country-led monitoring and evaluation systems through the lens of participatory governance and co-production: Implications for a Made in Africa Evaluation approach

Candice Morkel, Adeline Sibanda
African Evaluation Journal | Vol 10, No 1 | a622 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aej.v10i1.622 | © 2022 Candice Morkel, Adeline Sibanda | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 February 2022 | Published: 23 August 2022

About the author(s)

Candice Morkel, Centre for Learning on Evaluation and Results – Anglophone Africa, Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Adeline Sibanda, ADESIM Developments, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: The history of evaluations on the African continent can be linked to the introduction of upward systems of accountability resulting from the rapid introduction of international aid programmes for the (re)building of African states during the post-independence era. Results-based management and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) became commonplace, the features of which continue to imbue national M&E systems across the continent. These systems, if not intentionally so designed and implemented, are not particularly focused on learning for course-correction and performance improvement from the perspective of citizens. Conducting evaluations, in particular, is often based on the need for accountability to funders or decision-makers, as opposed to downward accountability to the public and intended beneficiaries of the interventions.

Objectives: This article explores how localised approaches to governance (merged with co-production) could ensure that evaluation systems are liberatory if they are endogenous and indigenous in their design and respond to the needs of citizens (rather than serving an upward accountability agenda).

Method: Through the analytical framework of participatory governance and co-production, this article examines how participatory approaches to establishing national evaluation (and monitoring) systems may help the African continent liberate itself from the instrumental adoption of M&E systems, defined by compliance and accountability, and instead design systems based on a citizen-owned, people-centred notion of downward accountability.

Results: Participatory governance and co-production are well aligned to the principles of MAE (Made in Africa Evaluation) and may provide the means to arriving at more inclusive forms of M&E systems development and, concomitantly, more inclusive ways of producing and using evidence for policy, governance and development on a national scale.

Conclusion: Although desirable due its potential to transform systems of governance to become more citizen-centred, co-production must not be romanticised nor over-simplified. Increasing levels of citizen participation in governance must consider that there are significant changes that need to be made to institutional structures and processes, such as new forms of accountability, governance, systems and structures for citizen involvement. Therefore, a combination of practical, technical, ideological, relational and political factors must be considered in the adoption of more participatory approaches in establishing national M&E systems.


Made in Africa Evaluation (MAE); participatory governance; co-production; people-centred; national evaluation systems (NES); results-based management (RBM); monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems embedded autonomy


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