Luisa [user:field_middlename] Belli

Luisa Belli

Evaluation Officer
Food and Agriculture Organization, U.N.

My contributions

  • Improved evaluation capacities can benefit either the programmes evaluated, leading to better future planning and actions; or the evaluative thinking, methods and tools. 

    Participants to this discussion highlighted that some evaluation practices are more conducive to developing capacity than others. Participatory approaches in particular can potentially multiply the contribution to capacities of people involved in the process.

    Below is an overview on main points of the discussion:

    Evaluation and capacity development

    • Evaluation is first and foremost a learning process that involves the evaluators as well as the ‘evaluand’ stakeholders.
    • Learning is one of the most influential factors for the long-term
    • Dear members, 

      Below is a summary of the main points raised during the discussion. Many thanks to all participants!

      Luisa and Lavinia

      Evaluation and capacity development

      • Evaluation is first and foremost a learning process that involves the evaluators as well as the ‘evaluand’ stakeholders.
      • Learning is one of the most influential factors for the long-term sustainability of interventions.
      • Capacity development activities during the evaluation process may include, f.i., rebuilding the ToC with the evaluation stakeholders.
      • Learning and therefore capacity development are more limited when the evaluation stakeholders do not engage, or when the evaluator does not involve them. 
      • Evaluation can help identify training needs and provide mechanisms for better and more effective development of capacities.

      Participatory approaches in evaluation and capacity development

      • Involving stakeholders in the evaluation process influences the extent to which they will enhance their capacities as a direct result of the evaluation.
      • The soft skills of evaluators, such as communication and facilitation skills, are key when it comes to ensure effective participatory approaches; this may go beyond what can be taught in a classroom and requires a focused work on personal attitudes and a lot of practice.
      • Using consultative groups can be an effective way to involve stakeholders’ representatives throughout the evaluation process. It usually enhances the likelihood of them accepting and acting upon the recommendations.
      • Cited methods applied in participatory evaluations include: Outcome Harvesting, Resource Mapping, Institutional Mapping and Community Farm calendar.
      • The recently released “Inclusive Systemic Evaluation for Gender equality, Environments and Marginalized voices” offers a guide for developing capacities though participatory approaches. 

      A systemic and integrated approach across capacity development dimensions is key in supporting an evaluation culture in countries. In Kenya, for instance, evaluations at county level conducted under the EvalSDGs/EvalVision programme are targeting a wide range of stakeholders allowing a vertical integration of capacities and the emerging of an enabling environment for evaluation. Another example is the “Focelac” project in Costa Rica, which is targeting both individual and institutional capacities while at the same time creating a favourable environment for evaluation though promotion of norms and standard, data availability, etc.  

      To end with, some members shared their suggestions on how to evaluate training and capacity development, through a simplified version of the KirkPatrick model. Other templates that can be used to track the outcome of training events were also made available during the discussion. 

    • Dear EvalForward members,

      Thank you for engaging in this lively discussion and for sharing your experiences with evaluations that helped in developing capacities of evaluands and of beneficiaries.

      As evaluators, we know the difference it makes to truly engage with the evaluands and the programme team and how this influences the results and use of the evaluation. As Anis Ben Younes rightly said, evaluation in such cases becomes a learning process for all those who are involved, a process of sharing knowledge for the benefit of improving our actions, programmes and policies.

      The examples shared from Costa Rica and Kenya, where the capacity development and participatory aspects of evaluations are central, are proving how this approach is instrumental in supporting ownership on the evaluation at institutional level.  The experiences presented in using participatory methodologies such as outcome harvesting, resource mapping and institutional mapping helped communities in improving the use of their assets and knowledge.

      Certainly, there are still challenges to address, such as the lack of capacities of evaluators, the cases when evaluands and project officers refuse to get involved in the evaluation and evaluators that work in isolation and do not engage.

      Feel free to keep sharing your lessons and experiences on developing capacities of evaluands and other actors through the evaluation process.  

      As mentioned, we are working on a capacity development evaluation framework that we are going to pilot in upcoming evaluations to see how this can be applied to evaluation of different types such as project, strategic, thematic and country programme evaluations.

      Please note that we will draft a summary of all contributions and resources shared by participants and circulate it through the Community. 

      Luisa and Lavinia