Archana [user:field_middlename] Sharma

Archana Sharma


I am a social scientist with over 25 years of experience in project management and monitoring & evaluations in development sector in Asia.

My contributions

  • Racism in the field of evaluation

    • Dear Harvey,

      I hail from India in the global south and have been in the development sector for about 30 years now. I would like to briefly highlight my experiences in the field of evaluations in response to your concerns:

      Yes,  systemic racism is there in the field and practice of evaluation. In fact, it exists everywhere; even in the high offices of the  diversity and inclusion advocates; including EU & UN.

      In my experience, the victims of racism are equally uncomfortable as evaluators, in talking about racism in our field as they would not like to offend the commissioners of the evaluations and in the process being sidelined and losing their assignments and jobs.

      Rapid surveys, online surveys or detailed studies may be carried out in case  someone is seriously interested in understanding as  where we stand on this issue. Actions speak louder than words and therefore just keeping and making everyone sign on diversity and inclusion policies wouldn't deliver. The senior management need to practice it at every level to gradually change the equations if they really intend to change the scene in favour of the lesser privileged communities- be it black, brown yellow, tribal or any other such marginalized communities who have been on the receiving end of the discriminatory practices.

      Yes, The Black-Lives-Matter movement is not new. It’s always been there, this time it caught the attention of the high and mighty due to multiple reasons...US impending election being just one of them. In fact, I have a black colleague from Kenya who is really disturbed by the attention given by media to BLM in US & Europe and not highlighting the real issues of Blacks in Africa and gender based violence is one that was mentioned by him on 11 June his words " Mercy Cherono was Tied and Dragged on a motorcycle while a police beats her...for 10kms till her clothes got tattered on the road, she was half naked. But sorry we are busy protesting in the US ." I am sharing a news clip of that incident with you for your reference.

      As evaluators, I would say we try to be enablers and would like to play an active role in the fields and also provide solutions. Unfortunately, in commissioned evaluations, our recommendations are hardly integrated in real practice as race comes into play at several levels. To begin with, a global north evaluator is generally preferred and the decision makers are aware of the reasons behind their choice.  As far as "Qualifications & Experiences " are concerned ,the global south is already starting at a disadvantage. The inherent gap in capacities (including expertise in evaluation) of  the global north vs. global south is going to stay as a result of various reasons and systemic discriminatory practices layered under fine prints. One obvious reason that I strongly oppose is candidates inability to prove any overseas experience As far as I am concerned, being an Indian; for the past three decades; I am generally assigned monitoring and evaluations assignments by the international agencies in India and have limited experience in neighbouring Nepal and Bangladesh. Unless, one is given a chance to undertake overseas assignments; one is never ever going to have that experience and this vicious cycle can never be broken and the gaps in skills, capacities, wealth, gender, assets, power equation  etc. are going to stay forever. The Big Development Players are more interested in projecting the image that they have Diversity and Inclusion Policies in place in Black & White and never ever sincerely care to practice it to bring the lesser mortals at par with them.

      Archana Sharma

      Director, BINDU   



  • What can we do to improve food security data?

    • Dear Dr Emile N. Houngbo,

      I am glad that you raised this important issue. The authenticity, credibility, reliability, accuracy, relevancy and right interpretation of data all are crucial not only to improve the quality of food security but also to address other development cooperation areas effectively as it feeds into decision-making processes. Unfortunately, in most of the underdeveloped and developing countries, poor quality of data poses a real problem and the projections made on the basis of these data are far from the reality.

      Here, in India , data collection is a big challenge as most of our enumerators, surveyors and field agents not only work in poor working conditions, they live in adverse conditions, are not oriented to the issue appropriately and do not have access to any kind of training in tools, techniques, methodologies, approaches and processes involved in data collection. Most of our field staff are either NGO Workers already over burdened with other responsibilities in voluntary sector or recent graduates with no knowledge of the subject, no time to spend on the work and the low interest in data collection activity. In both the cases, they are lowly paid workers in the non-profit sector with no means of transportation to reach out to the remote areas and difficult terrains and badly lack basic training in application of the right tools and methodologies. Therefore, the Monitoring & Evaluation Frameworks, Key Performance Indicators, Assumptions, Project Findings, Recommendations and the End Product all may not be the representative of the real picture.

      It is highly recommended that the research or evaluation agency invest in proportion in the high-end surveyors and the field staff for quality data collection as the agency invests in the desk job data analysts, data interpreters and the evaluators. Depending upon the complexity of data, the field staff should also undergo 1 to 2 days training before they embark upon the journey of data collection in the field.


      Archana Sharma