Innovative Challenge Project

Mobilizing South Asian Local Knowledge to Democratize Evaluation theory and practice

Evaluation theories and practice used in South Asia are heavily dependent on North-based worldviews, values and paradigms. Despite the impressive growth in knowledge assets, evaluation capacities and democratic engagement in South Asia – what, how and for whom evaluation takes place largely ignores local knowledge, philosophies and realities.

EvalPartners, the global partnership to strengthen national evaluation capacities, received a grant from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour of the United States Department for State for 2018-2019. The grant was expected to help EvalPartners continue its global engagement to proactively support VOPEs by funding a new round of Peer to Peer (P2P) grants and Innovation Challenge partnerships. The objective of the innovation challenge is to introduce local solutions for evaluating interventions for better democracy, enhanced human rights, and improved governance and to strengthen local capacity, tools and guidelines adopted to local context for democracy, human rights and governance (DRG) evaluations. As a part of this award, The Community of Evaluators – South Asia was awarded the Project, Mobilizing South Asian Local Knowledge to Democratize Evaluation theory and practice.

The project was expected to attempt to mainstream the substantial, but under-utilized local knowledge, theory and practice of South Asia, to make it more responsive to the needs of the region. Additionally, the Project was expected to contribute towards brining local knowledge and culture into mainstream evaluation discourse, thus ensuring a rights-based approach for governance. This knowledge aggregation from South Asia with similar efforts in the Global South is unique. Equally important is the involvement of Parliamentarians in promoting evaluation rooted in local knowledge as well as the plan to sensitize young, emerging evaluators and educate stakeholders such as private and philanthropic donors in evaluation.

The Community of Evaluators – South Asia identified suitable experts from South Asia who were willing to research local knowledge in evaluation practice in their respective countries. They were provided with Guidelines for preparation of their country papers, which were reviewed on a structured template.

These papers formed the backdrop for an expert consultation organised by the Community of Evaluators – South Asia.

The workshop was held on 19 and 20 July, 2019 at the Citrus Hotel, Wadduwa, south of Colombo in Sri Lanka.