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​​Mr. Godfrey Mashamba, the DDG Evaluation and Evidence in the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, and the Facilitator, Dr. Robert Nkuna, the Director General of the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Senior officials and Representatives of Twende Mbele, Speakers and representatives of all participating institutions, ​

​​​​​​Ladies and gentlemen,​​​​

I welcome you all to this year’s annual National Evaluation Seminar which is convened under the theme; “Rising to challenges of limited resources, inequality, and climate change.” The National Evaluation Seminar aims to create a platform for promoting learning and sharing of best practices amongst practitioners on South Africa’s evaluation machinery. 

The National Evaluation Seminar is a flagship initiative of the Department of Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation (DPME) that started in 2014. Over the past nine years, we have worked to strengthen the country’s evaluation machinery through ongoing engagement with national and international stakeholders from diverse sectors. 

It is for this reason that we are pleased with the partnership between DPME and Twende Mbele in co-hosting this year’s seminar. 

Twende Mbele is a peer learning partnership of African governments to promote monitoring and evaluation as a tool to strengthen government performance and accountability in partner countries. This year we especially welcome the participation of all six Twende Mbele member countries, namely Benin, Ghana, Kenya, Niger, Uganda, and South Africa in this year’s National Evaluation Seminar. 

We believe your participation will bring great insights informed by the unique socioeconomic and political contexts of your respective countries that will strengthen and elevate deliberations. Equally, our cross-border work is a vital contribution to creating a better Africa and world through the development and effective use of the monitoring and evaluation machinery.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

We have an invigorating program lined up with several presentations from a diverse pool of experts including the much-anticipated input from the Independent Evaluation Office of the New Development Bank (NDB). The 3 input is timely given the outcomes of the historic 15th BRICS Summit convened under the Chairship of South Africa in September 2023. 

As South Africa, we will continue to facilitate and promote collaboration to strengthen capacity for the evaluation of the developmental effectiveness of key government interventions. This becomes key in advancing the strategic domestic imperatives and objectives of the BRICS cooperation namely to promote peace, security, development, and cooperation. 

Therefore, I challenge you as practitioners within the monitoring and evaluation ecosystem to utilize this seminar to deliberate on strategies to improve and better place the practice of evaluation in addressing bottlenecks to reaching development imperatives and targets. I want you to take note of the following provocations; 

- Firstly, given the constrained resources, how can we get the most out of evaluations? 

- Secondly, conducting evaluations may take longer than necessary and require considerable financial commitment. How can we make use of existing evaluation evidence and tools to intervene timely and improve impact, particularly on enabling access to economic opportunities, employment, and improving the living standards of ordinary citizens?

- In addition, what are the lessons from rapid evaluations and evidence synthesis approaches that we can apply going forward in optimizing existing evaluation resources? 

 - Thirdly, inequality continues to be a grave concern that erodes the fabric of our society. What innovations must be considered to accelerate inclusive outcomes of government programs? 

- Fourthly, climate change is an existential challenge that knows no borders. Now that we have introduced new evaluation guidelines on climate ecosystem health, how should we practically mainstream environmental sustainability principles in our planning and development processes? 

The above provocations are interrelated and very structural, particularly in the context of South Africa. Therefore, as evaluation practitioners, you have a pivotal role to play in addressing the intersecting drivers of underdevelopment in commissioning or conducting evaluation, and when using evaluation evidence. 

More importantly, the outputs and outcomes of the evaluation machinery must have a direct impact on the livelihoods of our citizens and our environment, focusing on the inclusion of vulnerable groups in society. 

We must ensure that no one is left behind.

Facilitator of the session, This year’s National Evaluation Seminar proves to be worthwhile as we will cover several subject areas including the impact evaluation of early grade learning programs, implementation evaluation of policy on persons with disabilities, and evaluation in the context of local municipalities. 

I want the National Evaluation Seminar to elevate the experiences of local government. Local municipalities are the front lines of service delivery, where citizens experience the most direct impact of government actions. Evaluating the effectiveness of programs at the local level is crucial for improving, accountability, service delivery, and responsiveness to local contexts. 

As DPME we will also share some important lessons generated from the rapid evaluation approach applied, firstly on the government’s interventions in the 2022 flood disaster in parts of the country, and on the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP). 

The rapid evaluation approach requires a culture shift to effectively enable timely decision support and efficiency in translating evaluating evidence into practical use in effecting improvements. 

In conclusion,

 I urge us all to view the discussions and presentations of this seminar as instrumental and applicable in many parts of the African continent and the developing world. I wish you all the best in your deliberations during this seminar.

I thank you!​​

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