Exchange to change February 2016 - Page 5

people to bring about some kind of change. It supports a decision or objective they already have. The extent to which you manipulate the evidence or not is up for discussion. Let me give an example from the UK. When Labour came into power in 1997 they started to support multilateral agencies, particularly ILO and UNESCO, but when the Conservatives came back in they did an evidence based review of the effectiveness of these multilateral agencies. Surprise, surprise… ILO and UNESCO were not effective so they stopped funding them again. The review was used to support a political decision which had already been made. However, I do think an accumulation of evaluation findings can shift things in an environment in which a policy maker is sensitive to external pressure and when the wider circumstances are fruitful for evaluations to have an influence. For instance, in the 1980s an increasing number of evaluation reports on the negative impacts of large dams were produced. The shift of disciplinary influence, particularly the reduced political influence of engineers in the large aid agencies, and the increased civil society concern about the effect of dams on people and environment constituted an enabling environment for the uptake of the recommendations of the evaluation reports. E2C: Given your concerns about potential misuse of evaluation and results, should we pay more attention to who sets the evaluation questions and whose realities count? R.: Yes, and that is why I am really interested in this issue. This whole results and evidence agenda shapes the kind of programs that donors are prepared to fund. It is the effect upon what gets funded that interests me and what I refer to as ‘the tail wagging the dog’. By and large, I do not think evaluations get used anyhow so I wasn’t bothered about what gets done, but my concern was that the evaluation design in the end drives what people do. E2C: So what do you hope or expect for the future? R.: Actually, I am encouraged because the purpose of the Big Push Forward initiative is to get people talking about all of this politics of evidence and results publicly. A few years ago, the evidence and result discourses were so dominant that it almost felt like an illegitimate subject. We want to make it okay to move from hegemony back to ideology along the continuum by creating a public space to discuss and offer alternatives. Lisa Popelier The International Year of Evaluation at IOB The EvalYear did not remain unnoticed at IOB, which seized the moment to organise a short training initiative to strengthen national M&E capacities and use. The training was attended by members of nine different national Evaluation Societies, namely Mexico, Uganda, Indonesia, Brazil, Ethiopia, Jordan, Burkina Faso, Zambia and Kenya. During the training session participants made a diagnosis of their country’s M&E system and a SWOT analysis of their National Evaluation Society, which they presented during a livestreamed presentation on the final day. 5