The African Evaluation Association’s 8th International Conference was held in Kampala, Uganda, from 27 March to 31 March 2017. It attracted nearly 700 participants from 71 countries, including 51 participants from South Africa.
Khulisa played many roles in this important international evaluation event:
Khulisa Director Jennifer Bisgard, an AfrEA organising committee member, supported fundraising, strand management and conference communications. In addition to chairing several “Evaluating Education” strand sessions, she addressed and chaired the final plenary conference session.
Ms Bisgard’s workshop Introduction to Evaluation Consulting drew a crowd of 32 eager evaluators brave enough to venture into the entrepreneurial world of consulting. The workshop took participants through an interactive process of working through key issues Khulisa has seen through nearly 25 years of conducting evaluations. At the end of the workshop, participants were equipped with a set of tools and tips to embark on, or improve, their consulting practice. Ms Bisgard has received multiple requests for the workshop to be run again.
Through USAID’s YouthPower Learning project, Khulisa Director, Dr Mark Bardini, was one of the strand managers for the Youth and Emerging Evaluators strand. A record number of 758 abstracts were received and evaluated for the conference. Strand managers were responsible for selecting and grouping abstracts within 19 diverse strands.
In addition to running numerous youth-related sessions, YouthPower (a USAID funded project) provided bursaries to 10 emerging African evaluators to participate in the conference. These bursars received full conference sponsorship as well as mentoring and career advice.
Dr Bardini, Cassandra Jessee (Making Cents International), and Dr. Chisina Kapungu (International Center for Research on Women) led a workshop on Measuring Positive Youth Development (PYD). PYD emphasises the importance of young people having the knowledge and skills they need, the opportunity to harness those skills, and a supportive environment to thrive as adults. The workshop drew over 20 participants, including the ten bursary holders, and provided training on the PYD Measurement Toolkit that the YP Learning team created for USAID.
On the final day of the conference, Khulisa’s Dr Annie Chikwanha and Wendy Magoronga presented a paper titled Evaluating political governance programmes: the use of proxy indicators. Chaired by Ms Bisgard, the session facilitated interesting conversations about transparency matrixes and the levels of participation and accountability within civil society and public institutions. The session took place in the Leveraging Capacity Building Knowledge for Development Results strand.
Jennifer Bisgard, a co-author with colleagues Katharine Tjasink and Wade Harker, presented a poster featuring an innovative and inexpensive way to collect data from illiterate or semi-literate individuals. Developed by Khulisa and tested with over 2800 participants from Ethiopia, Uganda and India, the poster initiated extensive interest in the method.
Twende Mbele, a government-to-government partnership between Uganda, Benin and South Africa, was formally launched at the conference. Members of the Twende Mbele management committee also managed the Government and the SDGs strand. Dr Annie Chikwanha, Jennifer Bisgard and Wendy Magoronga observed several of the Twende Mbele sessions as the external evaluators of the Twende Mbele programme.
The conference was opened by the Prime Minister of Uganda, Hon Dr Ruhakana Rugunda. Funders and partners complimented the quality, organisation and overall structure of the conference, deeming it one of the most successful conferences in AfrEA’s 18 year history.
The next AfrEA Conference will take place in Cote D’Ivoire in 2019.