The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for follow-up and review processes to measure progress towards achieving the SDGs. It emphasizes that these mechanisms should be based on high quality country-led evaluations and data. Thus, stronger national evaluation capacities are a prerequisite for sustainable development results.
Against this backdrop, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) conducted a bottleneck analysis in 2014 to support the development of a work plan with the Nigerian Ministry of Budget and National Planning (MBNP). In addition to the lack of a National Evaluation Policy (NEP), one of the key barriers identified was the lack of a results-based management culture within the MBNP, specifically, and within the Government, in general. As a result, the Government was unable to advocate effectively for developing the NEP. Furthermore, Nigeria did not have a unified voluntary organizations for professional evaluations (VOPES) that could advocate for and further develop the national evaluation function.
Towards a Solution
UNICEF undertook several strategies to strengthen national evaluation capacities in Nigeria. A key strategy was to raise the profile of the evaluation function within the Government by supporting the establishment of a national evaluation association that would advocate for strengthening the demand for and use of evaluation in decision- making processes. In parallel, UNICEF supported the development and adoption of the NEP.
To achieve this objective, the Government of Nigeria, supported by UNICEF, participated in the Fourth International Conference on National Evaluation Capacities (NEC Conference) in October 2015. The Conference provided the Nigerian Government and, specifically, the Monitoring and Evaluation Director within MBNP, with a platform to: share experiences on building evaluation capacities; engage with evaluation experts and other national VOPES; and share insights into how other countries strengthen evaluation capacities. The government officials also connected with peers working on similar mandates and challenges in terms of strengthening the national evaluation function. Additionally, the Government participated in bilateral exchanges and networks that provided a better understanding of the value of a NEP and of the importance of advocating for it in Nigeria. And, at the same time, this exchange reaffirmed the need for the Nigerian Government to support the development of a national VOPE that would strengthen the overall national evaluation function and support the development and roll-out of the NEP. The key outcome of the NEC Conference was
the Bangkok Declaration on Principles for National Evaluation Capacity for SDGs, which informed Nigerias strategy for developing a NEP.
Following the participation at the NEC Conference, a conference on evaluation and good governance was held in Abuja in November 2015. The event helped the Ministry to raise the profile of the evaluation agenda within the Government at the highest level and create a collective evaluation vision for Nigeria. It culminated in the important Abuja Declaration on Evaluation (2015), which recognizes the importance of country- led monitoring and evaluation systems for achieving the SDGs in Nigeria.
The Abuja Declaration also helped to establish a vibrant unified national evaluation association in Nigeria. At that time, Nigerian evaluation leaders agreed to unite in a federation of associations known as the Nigerian Association of Evaluators (NAE), which would function as the national VOPE in Nigeria. The NAE aims to further develop and promote a community of evaluators and practitioners that will support the institutionalization of evaluation in Nigeria. UNICEF and MBNP continue to support NAE in organizing annual or biannual conferences to raise the importance of evaluation as an important public management function. Notable among them is the 2017 conference that led the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), MBNP, Office of the Special Adviser to the President on SDGs and UNICEF to sign a declaration that stresses the need for a national accountability framework that further clarifies accountabilities on the monitoring and evaluation functions that support SDG implementation. Following this conference, the Government committed to adopting a monitoring and evaluation framework, for
which two distinct but complementary policies will be developed: a National Monitoring Policy (NMP), planned for 2018, and a NEP, developed in 2017 and ready for domestication. UNICEF is currently supporting the drafting and finalisation of these policies. In the context of the Nigerian Delegation participation to the High-Level Political Forum in 2017, the Nigerian Parliament also asked the Minister of State at MBNP to fast-track adoption of the NEP. Going forward, in 2018 2019, MBNP, UNICEF and the European Union (EU) also agreed to further collaborate in conducting national and subnational consultations to inform the legislative process for both the NEP and NMP.
Nigeria is therefore the first African country to distinguish and recognize the different and complementary roles of two separate functions with two national policies on monitoring and, on evaluation. The NMP approaches the monitoring as a key management function, whereas the NEP approaches evaluation as a core accountability and learning function.
Moreover, during the NEC conference, 27 African countries demonstrated interest in developing a NEP, but very few have developed such a policy. Given this interest, and the fact that many African countries face similar challenges in building an enabling environment for evaluation, Nigeria’s experience and strategy for building national evaluation capacities can be replicated to suit many national contexts.
Countries/Regions involved: Nigeria
Supported by: UNICEF
Contact: Mr. Denis Jobin, Senior Evaluation Specialist, Evaluation Office, UNICEF headquarters, firstname.lastname@example.org
Project period: 2015 – 2018