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IMBIZO: Sharing experiences of young emerging evaluators (YEEs): AfrEA 2019 Conference

- Talitha Hlaka, Communications Officer

CLEAR-AA led an “Imbizo[1] round table discussion at the AfrEA 2019 conference in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire. The Imbizo featured a young enthusiastic panel who spoke passionately on the work and challenges of young emerging evaluators (YEEs). These panelists were Ms. Nozipho Ngwabi (Crest Stellenbosch University), Ms. Elizabeth Margret (M&E consultant), Eddah Kanini (M&E gender consultant), Siyabonga Sibiya (CLEAR-AA) and Khotso Tsotsotso (CLEAR-AA). The aims of the Imbizo was to elaborate the concept of YEE; share experiences and innovations around enhancing the capacities of YEEs across the continent; as well as explore effective mechanisms of fostering collaboration among YEEs.

The YEEs initiated their discussion by discussing the first objective of the day “What is a young emerging evaluator?” it appeared to the young people that they are often associated with the term “YEE” simply because of their age and that this is a misconception of who emerging evaluators actually are. It was also argued that fairly experienced researchers and professionals from different sectors can easily be referred to as emerging evaluators solely because they are at the beginning of their evaluation careers, and not necessarily because they are young and inexperienced. So what is a young emerging evaluator? Next, the YEEs shared their sentiments on the lack of a defined pathway of professional development for emerging evaluators and a lack of agreement on competencies within the evaluation ecosystem. This state of affairs in the ecosystem contributes to confusion in development and can perpetuate one’s status as a YEE without a clearly identified exit point. This way, as one YEE noted “we are forever identifying emerging professionals who never fully develop into trusted evaluation professionals” Caution was reiterated that specifically in the Sub-Saharan Africa; the status of a YEE can be used as an exclusionary mechanism, and unnecessarily used as a category to describe black evaluators. The Imbizo thus called for a clear identification of evaluation competencies, complemented by a generally accepted exit strategy for YEEs.

The Imbizo went on to stress that YEE is not only about evaluations. There are many other different and equally important roles within M&E practice beyond evaluation such as evaluation research, academic writing[2] The panel determined that YEEs should be more active in academic publication in order to intensify the YEE voice and to shape the evaluation discourse in Africa to reinforce the role that YEEs need to developing and improving African Evaluation paradigms.

While the predominance of the table discussion rested in defining the concept of YEEs, it was also brought to the table that there is a great difficulty in finding opportunities to gain practical evaluation experience. To bring about a solution to the problem, the Imbizo recognised the power commanded by evaluation commissioners, believing that commissioners have the power to insist on involvement of emerging evaluators on evaluation projects. In closing, YEEs welcomed the United Nation Population Fund’s (UNFPA) idea of putting the development of YEEs at the centre of UNFPA’s evaluation agenda. Indeed recognition of YEEs should be more recognised, for instance, using the lens through which UNFPA views young evaluators i.e. as agents of meaningful change active in the present, and NOT agents in perpetual transit who can only be active in the future.


[1] A South African term that denotes an important gathering held by traditional leaders to discuss community issues.

[2] Considered an important function in professionalization and strengthening evaluation practice in Africa