How the Community of Evaluators built National Evaluation Systems in Nepal

A view of the north eastern side of Bodha Stupa. Picture credit: Creative Commons

Using evaluation findings in the development process is a common challenge in Nepal due to several factors including the capacity of evaluators, the quality of evaluations and the environment within the user organization to use evaluation findings, but the Community of Evaluators Nepal (CoE Nepal) has achieved progress working hand in hand with the National Planning Commission in Nepal. Read how the EvalPartners Flagship 1 programme supported the Community of Evaluators in Nepal to build National Evaluation Systems.

The answers were provided by CoE Nepal.

What did the Community of Evaluators Nepal do in its Strengthening National Evaluation Systems project in Nepal?

CoE Nepal has been working closely with the National Planning Commission (NPC) of the government of Nepal which is responsible for setting M&E standards, policy and guidelines in Nepal. CoE Nepal has collaborated with the NPC in organizing the Evaluation Conclave in 2013 and 2015, and the culmination of the International Year of Evaluation 2015.

In addition to the NPC, CoE Nepal has worked very closely with the National Parliamentarian Forum for Development Evaluation Policy (NPFDEP), UN agencies and other VOPEs while developing the National Evaluation Action Plan Nepal (2016-2020) and its implementation. It has also provided technical input on the draft M&E bill in the country.

Under EvalPartners support to Strengthen National Evaluation Systems under the Flagship 1 project, CoE provided the following support to develop a national evaluation policy and framework:

  • Provided technical input on evaluation while developing national and sub-national M&E guidelines and Government’s 15th five-year plan highlighting the role of VOPE’s in national evaluations systems development and capacity building, among others
  • Supported NPFDEP with technical inputs in its various events including orientation to parliamentarians on the importance of evaluation in evidence-based policy-making which resulted in the M&E provision in the Constitution of Nepal
  • Provided basic intermediate training to the NPC and line ministries based on an M&E framework with OECD DAC criteria
  • Continuously disseminating M&E related policies, strategies and plans through various means
  • Supported national evaluation process as evaluation experts commissioned by the NPC
  • Developed a Code of Conduct for evaluators and shared it widely among the evaluators and evaluation commissioners
  • Provided capacity-building support to government officials (NPC and other sectoral ministries) and new and emerging evaluators
  • Carried out a capacity gap assessment of the government and other development organizations in Nepal to develop evaluation capacity-building strategies

Countries are moving at various speeds in making progress towards strengthened national evaluation capacities. What are the challenges or shortcomings in Nepal’s progress towards this goal?

The following conditions and factors affect the strengthening of national evaluation capacity in Nepal:

  • Nepal is yet to enact the M&E Act ensuring mandatory evaluation of development projects and programmes along with clear roles and responsibilities of the organizations/agencies
  • With the federalization process, sub-national governments are responsible for managing development actions, but they lack appropriate policies/acts/institutions and capacity
  • Weak understanding among the major development stakeholders about evaluation and its potential role in managing the interventions effectively
  • M&E components within the government ministries are weak (inadequate training, no adequate budget and frequent staff transfer) and there are significant coordination gaps and weak ownership among the ministries or departments and stakeholders to internalize M&E systems
  • Evaluation capacity in the private sector and national non-government organizations are weak
  • The existing evaluation process followed the conventional approach/design and there is no adequate effort made to address the ongoing challenges of complexities and inter-sectoral connections that support transformational change in development management

What can be done to improve the strengthening of national evaluation systems in Nepal in the future?

The following factors could result in future strengthened national evaluation systems in Nepal:

  • Legally binding policy frameworks required which make mandatory provisions to carry out a quality evaluation in a certain timeframe
  • A new National Evaluation Action Plan with the active engagement of major development stakeholders to be developed
  • Capacity gap assessment of government, NGOs and the private sector and develop appropriate strategies
  • At the federal level, the capacity and roles and responsibilities of the NPC and Social Welfare Council are to be strengthened and they should be made responsible for managing evaluation within their mandates
  • With the federalization in Nepal, the capacity and institutional supports are to be provided to the sub-national governments (provincial and local)
  • The development plans and sectoral strategies should be reviewed periodically (mid and final) and the findings are to be shared with wider stakeholders
  • For quality evaluation, the government should support improving the quality of evaluators, develop a code of conduct (CoC) for evaluators and commissioning agencies, invest in data collection and learning mechanisms to feed in its planning and decision-making processes, and
  • National Parliamentarian Forum for Development Evaluation Policy needs to be strengthened to facilitate parliamentarians for making evidence-based discussions and decisions
  • VOPEs should be established also at the sub-national level to support creating evaluative culture nationwide
For quality evaluation, the government should support improving the quality of evaluators

Why does evidence matter in the journey towards 2030?

Given the complex development setting and the ambitious development goals along with targets, evidence provides opportunities to understand what works, why and how to address the challenges.

This learning helps to develop the right policy frameworks and guide for actions.

The SDG has also called for ‘quality, accessible, timely and reliable disaggregated data…’ to help with the measurement of progress and to ensure that no one is left behind.

Nepal’s Volunatry National Review has provided some good progress and learning. A VNR is expected to be robust and evidence-based but Nepal’s VNR is yet to be evidence-based. Unless they are well verified with the data, it would not be well accepted by the stakeholders.

Given the complex development setting and the ambitious development goals along with targets, evidence provides opportunities to understand what works, why and how to address the challenges

What can evaluators do to become Evidence Champions and promote the use of evidence at national level?

Despite global growth, evaluation is still a relatively new and evolving area. Evaluators have an unconventional role to make the evaluation process more evidence-based and useful considering the complexities and dynamic nature of the development space. For this, they may need to understand the ongoing development needs, local context and the available resources and help to design evidence-based evaluation design and approaches to contribute to the transformative process. Continuous learning, improvement and support to other new and emerging evaluators are needed.

Evaluators have an unconventional role to make the evaluation process more evidence-based and useful considering the complexities and dynamic nature of the development space

What do you think is the meaning of the Global Evaluation Agenda, and how should evaluators approach the EvalAgenda in this Decade of Action?

The Global Evaluation Agenda is a historical achievement. This provides a global vision for enhancing evaluation use in the development process. After a series of global events, the EvalAgenda culminating ceremony took place in Kathmandu, Nepal in 2015 and the Agenda was endorsed by various stakeholders including the government, parliaments and other stakeholders.

The agenda included creating an enabling environment, capacity building and ensuring interlinkages and represent the voices of people and development practitioners working hard to make the development process work for the disadvantaged communities and members of society.

Evaluators now have new responsibilities to be innovative and efficient to address the complex nature of the development process and associated actions urgently. They should work to find context-based solutions through the use of systems thinking approaches and address the emerging challenges such as global warming, COVID and poverty. Joint efforts through evaluation networks and actions are inevitable for sensitizing right holders, policymakers and political leaders.

Evaluators should work to find context-based solutions through the use of systems thinking approaches and address the emerging challenges such as global warming, COVID and poverty

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