Monday, January 29, 2007

Making Evaluation our Own

At the AfrEA conference, there was a special stream on: 'Making Evaluation our Own'. It aimed to investigate where we are in terms of having Africa rooted, Africa lead evaluations.

I found it particularly useful because it became patently obvious that there are African world views and African methods of knowing that are not yet exploited for Evaluation in Africa. This of course brings the whole debate about "African" Evaluation theories to bear, and asks which kinds of evaluation theories are currently influencing our practice as evaluators in Africa.

Marvin C. Alkin and Christina A. Christie developed what they call the EVALUATION THEORY TREE. It splits the prominent (North-American) evaluation theorists into three big branches: Theories that focus on the use of evaluation, theories that focus on the methods of evaluation and theories that focus on how we value when evaluating. You can find more information about this at

The second tree is a slightly updated version. It was interesting to note that most of my reading about evaluation has been on "Methods" and "Use".

I think that if we are serious about developing our own African evaluation theories, we might need to develop our own African tree. Bob Piccioto mentioned that the African tree might use the branches of the above tree as roots, and grow its own unique branches.

A small commission from the conference put together a call for Action that outlines some key steps that should be taken if we hope to make progress soon. Hopefully I can post this at a later stage.

Keep well!

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