Democracy is what it is today thanks to free speech. And if free speech is good for democracy, it is also good for the advancement of the cause of evaluation of climate change and development and evaluation at large.
Our community is growing every day and from our end (Climate-Eval), we are constantly looking for innovative and creative ways to engage you and benefit from your rich experiences and extensive knowledge. Meaningful change in evaluation will only happen if we start to do things differently, learn good practices, replicate and scale them up.
It is for this reason that we are starting a series of provocative discussions on salient issues touching on evaluation of climate change. In the weeks and months ahead, we will like you to speak out on strengths and shortcomings of evaluations. It does not matter how controversial or contentious an issue may be, we would discuss it here. Our goal is to ensure that evalaution reports end up making a difference in sustainable development.
So let’s get started and please let us have "Your Take"
Under Utilization of Climate Change Evaluations results from Poor Media Strategy. Do you agree?
One of the uphill challenges facing the evaluation community today is not so much how evaluation should be planned, managed and reported. It is whether the evaluations are used. It is not uncommon to meet evaluators complaining that they invested so much time in an evaluation and the report was not used.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Perhaps you have had a similar sad story. Make no mistake - no one is underestimating the reasons why evaluations end up in drawers and never get used but there are few additional steps that have to be undertaken if you really care to see your evaluations used.
Take for instance, the Citizens Report Card (CRC) method used by citizens to score the performance of public agencies providing public services such as water supply, electricity and telecommunications in India.
This research method was used in 1994 by the Public Affairs Centre (PAC) in the South Indian city of Bangalore to gauge the satisfaction of citizens vis-à-vis the delivery of water supply, electricity and telecommunications. The results showed an overwhelming level of dissatisfaction of citizens towards the public agencies.
Citizens Report Card (CRC) was unique in the sense the media was at the center of its strategy to disseminate results to the public. Press kits were prepared with small printable stories, more friendly press releases, and translation of the main report into local languages. The survey was published on radio, leading to town hall meetings where citizens and providers of public services meet for a constructive discussion on how to improve the services.
In the long run, providers of these basic public services were obliged to improve their services.
When evaluations are commissioned with specific objectives or for specific purposes, they are used. When evaluation results contradict institutional practice, they are either ignored or selectively implemented. When policy makers have no clue what the recommendations are talking about, they simply do not even look at them.
So why do we have to waste so much time and money in what may not be used?
Granted, not all evaluations are destined for public consumption. But for those aimed at improving public policy, adjusting projects or programs and/or changing processes, what do we have to do to ensure they are utilization-oriented?
In the case of India, a thoughtful communication and advocacy plan was all that was needed to force the hands of the government agencies to make amends.
So evaluators should stop complaining that their reports are not being used.
You know what to do define a clear and achievable media strategy and implement it and you would see the difference you want to make.