The blog article was first published by the University of the Witwatersrand's Centre for Learning on Evaluation and Results, Anglophone Africa (CLEAR-AA).
How we curate and use information in 21st century Africa can be disheartening. In the M&E arena for instance, African states hardly take into account the signals from evaluations to inform their policies and programmes. Why? One reason is that most M&E efforts are carried out with sector-specific development partners. Commendable M&E systems may develop, but they are cut off from national development plans and M&E data is not systematically fed into government data collection and reporting systems. Another reason is the diversity of information and stakeholders involved in M&E in Africa. To address these issues and others, the Centre for Learning on Evaluation and Results, Anglophone Africa (CLEAR-AA) and the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST) collaboratively developed the African Evaluation Database (AfrED).
AfrED is an information and knowledge base that provides easy access to a variety of evaluation evidence on a wide range of subjects and development sectors on the African continent. AfrED constitutes a unique information resource on country-specific evaluation research for the African continent conducted between 2005-2020. The primary goal of developing the AfrED was the construction and population of an interactive knowledge database with respect to evaluation studies in Africa. It provides a resource on Anglophone Africa’s ‘state of evaluation’, including evaluation findings and unique methodologies.
AfrED was developed based on the premise that effective decision making is predicated upon the availability of good evidence and the use thereof in policy making, programme or project implementation. There is much debate amongst academics, policy advisers, policy makers and service providers regarding what constitutes good evidence. For some, statistical evidence is the most valid and reliable. For those individuals, statistical evidence is useful because it provides data that can confirm or reject assumptions about a policy’s or programme’s anticipated effectiveness and how this can be best achieved. However, statistical evidence is only one form of evidence that can be used for decision making. There are also qualitative forms of evidence which seek to establish what counts as evidence for different social groups, and focuses on understanding why, how, and under what conditions a policy intervention or government programme will be effective.
AfrED contains evidence from evaluation reports, articles and dissertations using quantitative, qualitative or mixed methodologies. There are a lot of advantages to using evidence from policy and programme evaluations as well as academic research, including the fact that these activities are generally undertaken with a greater degree of rigour and objectivity, while at the same time seek to establish a balance of evidence (i.e. establish both positive and negative evidence on the effectiveness of an intervention, and its intended and unintended consequences). Therefore, AfrED is certainly a source of good evidence for decision making.
The views expressed in published blog posts, as well as any errors or omissions, are the sole responsibility of the author/s and do not represent the views of the Africa Evidence Network, its secretariat, advisory or reference groups, or its funders; nor does it imply endorsement by the afore-mentioned parties.