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What does it mean to decolonize evaluation and research? - Shared screen with speaker view
… as traditionally defined (impact evaluation), at least.
Holta (World Vision)
There's a high emphasis of involving local universities and local evaluators within projects? What's good about this trend and where are the pitfalls that you see of this being a lackluster change...
Interesting and thoughtful discussions. We certainly need research and evaluation that are part of program implementations and that is designed to evaluate and guide the change process. Such activity should be rapid, from months to 12 months.
Clara Hagens (Catholic Relief Services)
Can we see some examples of those principles you mentioned, Julie?
Tessa Coggio
Bagele's points on donor and funder prescriptiveness are so spot on. As a MEAL professional at an INGO, I know we do not do enough to push back against that.I think what partly motivates the systematic approach on data collection is international funders' desire for comparability. Is comparability perhaps the wrong goal? Should the onus be on western donors and organizations to find global patterns rather than on local -level actors to conform to global M&E frameworks? How do we move the needle on that?
Wendi Bevins
Jori made a great point about the importance of Unlearning, and several panelists have brought up the role of donors in setting the parameters of evaluation. Does anyone on the panel have suggestions to help donors unlearn the most colonial aspects of MEL?
Julie Rajaratnam, PATH (she/her)
@Clara - principles we established for the example that I mentioned include: responsive to country needs, evidence-informed, coordinated & collaborative, sustainable & integrated.
Clara Hagens (Catholic Relief Services)
Thanks Julie!
Holta (World Vision)
Julie --I found your strategy online: https://path.azureedge.net/media/documents/PATH-Strategy-2025.pdf It is great to see the commitment that you are making as an organization. I liked particularly the four strategies: 1) equity in research; 2) community-focus priority; 3) Inclusive innovation; and 4) respectful partnerships.
Holta (World Vision)
Can you please talk about some of your steps to measure progress towards these strategies?
Julie Rajaratnam, PATH (she/her)
Yes, Holta - great question!
General thoughts:In one way or another, the evaluations we conduct have an impact on future humanitarian aid, areas of support, locations to be supported, amount of fund, target groups… etc.We need to decolonize, not only evaluation, but also the response, planned based on these evaluations… on what basis do we decide what needs immediate and serious response, and what can wait or perhaps would be overlooked!? Because things are relative! What is important to me, another person, a donor in the US, a donor in Europe, a person who’s been to a country in a less fortunate part of the world, and a person who’s never been outside of a more fortunate part of the world, each has their own perspective of things.
I believe one key method is to allow different stakeholders to interfere, take part in and shape the evaluation (participatory approach), mainly those we are trying to serve/ help/ support/ change …etc. Evaluations need to be semi structured: giving room for people to speak up and share things that we might have missed or excluded from the evaluation’s focus areas.
Suzanne Gilbert - Seva Foundation
Great session! Would like to hear more about successful methods to create greater access to research/evaluation skills/tools for communities to adapt and apply to locally defined issues.
Laurel MacLaren Save the Children (she/her)
@jori I appreciate your point that evaluators need to be "in relationship" with communities, in order to support social justice movements. That's a way we think about effective community organizing for social change, being in relationship!
Holta (World Vision)
Thank you, Jori! So well put on how we can use our talents for good!!!
Normally evaluation looks at only the outcome not evaluating simultaneously the process and context which would actually help know if it would be useful, duplicable or can be done in other settings.
Question: Diversity, equity, context, cultural sensitive reach and evaluation is none or limited. What are the oversights and who could and what need to be done to develop it?
Lauren Burrows
As external evaluators or consultants, we are also bound by organisational judgement values, project cycles, their internal journeys to decolonisation, what is the role of the ‘external evaluator’ and how in challenging organisations to do better on decolonisation and localisation?
We also “construct” our donors
Lindsay McColl .
We have a donor who insists on signing off on all decisions made in a community led project. Kinda misses the point on the ‘led’ part!
And even curation (which is time consuming, and has its own power dynamic, of course).
Maybe Jori or Julie?
Holta (World Vision)
Agree Tom! The default to looking for English speaking evaluators comes from this ease of reaching the products that are needed for upward reporting.
Esther Stevenson
Joni, why do you think that happens? That people see it as an add on?
Esther Stevenson
(sorry Jori!!)
Julie Rajaratnam, PATH (she/her)
Important point, Bagele on the WHO the external evaluator is.
Julie Rajaratnam, PATH (she/her)
(oops, all caps for *who* was meant for emphasis, not as World Health Organization)
Holta (World Vision)
Agree Bagele, we still look for the same qualifications in the local evaluator
Holta (World Vision)
we want the product to be in English, use the methods we believe are valid
Holta (World Vision)
and more along the same line
Fran Darlington-Pollock (she/her) SCUK
Thanks everyone, really enjoyed this discussion and the interventions from
Holta (World Vision)
We have a four-series going on. If the session inspired ideas on what more to discuss bring them on. As Ben said we can go for 5 session or as many as we need!
Holta (World Vision)
And here's the website for the Movement for Community Led Development --there's a whole fluid collaborative research going on in case you want to join https://mcld.org/research/ Many practical tools and tangible work you can engage.
Esther Stevenson
Very, very interesting panel and discussion. Many thanks for organising.
Julie Rajaratnam, PATH (she/her)
Wonderful facilitation Gunjan - thank you!
Wendi Bevins
Thank you, Gunjan, for being a great moderator and to the panelists for being honest and forward-looking.
Marlana Salmon-Letelier
Thank you everyone! Have to jump off to another meeting
Lindsay McColl .
Thank you for this interesting session!
Clara Hagens (Catholic Relief Services)
Wonderful discussion - thanks all.
Ben Bestor, InterAction
If you're not signed up for InterAction's Evaluation and Program Effectiveness Community of Practice, reach out to Ben Bestor (bbestor@interaction.org).
Linda Fogarty
Really rich and useful discussion! thank you!!
Holta (World Vision)
The International Evaluation Academy (IEA) has entered into an exciting partnership with the Journalof MultiDisciplinary Evaluation (JMDE) to publish a special open access issue (or series of issues,depending upon interest) entitled, “Decolonising evaluation: Towards a fifth paradigm”.
Zayid Douglas
Thank you for this rich discussion!
Holta (World Vision)
Dr. Chilisa is leading the effort.
Daniela Maquera Sardon
Illuminating discussion! Thanks to all the panelists and organizers!
Ryan Kopper
Thank you for the thought provoking session and great insights! I look forward to the future ones.