The African Development Bank's (AfDB) Operations Evaluation Department (OPEV) held a debate on the role of evaluation of operation on development results on 28 June in Tunis.
The debate was entitled: "Does Evaluation Matter for Development Results?" and OPEV launched its new quarterly knowledge publication, Evaluation Matters, at the event.
Participants included Désiré Vencatachellum, director, Policy and Operations Department; Simon Mizrahi, director, Quality Assurance and Results Department (ORQR) and Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa, director, Research Department, along with other AfDB experts, who gave their views on how operations evaluation can be perceived. More than 80 experts from the AfDB attended the debate, which was moderated by OPEV's Division manager, Mohamed Manai.
Participants explored how the AfDB could further engage on culture of results and impact on beneficiaries, by drawing lessons from past evaluations, for accountability and evaluability. They also made constructive suggestions, for renewed commitment to quality of Bank's operations evaluation.
Executive director, Christopher Kohlmeyer, chair of the CODE, explained why OPEV reports directly to the Board. He focused on impartiality, high quality of evaluation and accountability. He said that the main issue is accountability but added that evaluation always draws criticism and dealing with contributes to improvement. Mr Kohlmeyer also touched on issues related to communication. He stressed that: "Without communication, everything remains useless."
Highlighting the roles of OPEV and CODE, Mr Kohlmeyer said the two entities were interrelated. He observed: "CODE has to use OPEV to support its work. CODE is also there to protect independence of OPEV and ensure the quality of its work".
Ms Vencatachellum said that, although the AfDB had produced worthy operations evaluation, the feedback loop into the design of projects and operations should be enhanced. "There is need to go beyond approval and embrace a results and development impact culture," he said.
Mr Kayizzi-Mugerwa particularly referred to the importance of strengthening the independence of the evaluation function to ensure evaluability, credibility, and objectivity.
Mr Mizrahi emphasized the need for quality of analysis, interpretation and relevance in evaluating. "Evaluation has to be meaningful with evidence to meet development needs," he said.
Speaking about the publication, which was officially launched during the 2012 Annual Meetings in Arusha, Rakesh Nangia, Director of the Operations Evaluation Department said: "Evaluation Matters aims to bring to us the lessons of history and experience so we learn from it and use our abilities and resources wisely. History and its lessons are key to success. "Mr. Nangia highlighted the need for the Bank to learn lessons, not only from what we do, but from other MDBs and around the world. "We need to bring in experiences and ideas from other institutions of evaluation and tap from academics, for evaluation's effectiveness and development efficiency," he said.
In conclusion, he observed that OPEV would continue discussions with various departments on key operations evaluation challenges and on how they can work to improve living conditions on the continent
Copies of the knowledge product and of other evaluation reports were distributed during the event. The magazine features contributions from the AfDB President, CODE Chair, Bank evaluation specialists and from other institutions, as well as from some AfDB Directors and staff.
The general conclusion was that operations evaluations need to be meaningful, with evidence and effective recommendations, to spur development results and to drive growth and economic transformation on the continent.