M&E Thursday Talk – The roles and functions of VOPEs in promoting democratic practices and accountability

On Thursday, November 17th, 2016, Mark Abrahams of SAMEA hosted the M&E Thursday Talk series to discuss “The roles and function of VOPEs in promoting democratic practices and accountability: The case of SAMEA.

M&E Thursday Talk – The roles and functions of VOPEs in promoting democratic practices and accountability from DME for Peace on Vimeo.

There is an agreed assumption that democracy is inherently a good thing.  It is ‘something’, a practice, a policy, a state of being, a political system, an orientation, a philosophy or an ideology – depending on the definition used – that must be instilled where it is absent and broadened and consolidated where it exists. We are also aware that the democratic state is in crisis. It suffers from a lack of public confidence due in part to the competitive nature of party politics, the personalised leadership campaigns that depend on sophisticated manipulation of media and technology and the use of unlawful funding to attain their objectives. The inability of the welfare state – in its different forms across the globe – to attend to the basic needs of ordinary citizens, has added to the crisis, and resulted in the dwindling of trust and the feeling of political alienation.  Voluntary Organisations for Professional Evaluators (VOPEs) seek to promote equity focused and gender responsive evaluations that can influence national evaluation policies that benefit society at large. VOPEs should be embedded with the mission to promote democratic practices and ensure accountability.

This discussion focused on the South African Monitoring and Evaluation Association (SAMEA) as a VOPE and reflects briefly on its creation, the steady growth over the years and the significant challenges it faced both internally and externally. As a function of deepening and strengthening democracy, transparency and ensuring that it remains relevant, SAMEA must also attend to the existing gaps in the evaluation skills set(s) or competencies of its members. What is often under-represented in formal accredited courses, short courses and a significant number of M&E professional development initiatives – is the focus on the interpersonal domain that addresses human relations and social interactions that ground evaluator effectiveness.

About the Speaker:

Dr Mark Abrahams completed his doctoral studies in Sociology, focusing on evaluating community development in South Africa. He worked at Vista University (Centre for Community Development); University of Cape Town (Centre for Open Learning) and the University of the Western Cape (Division for Lifelong Learning). He is a founder member of the South African Monitoring and Evaluation Association (SAMEA) and a former chairperson.  Mark is the Editor-in-chief of the African Evaluation Journal, a publication of the African Evaluation Association (AfrEA).  For him the field of M&E is by nature interdisciplinary and requires the crossing of discipline research borders and boundaries to exact its utility value in the domains of Education, Economics, Health, Politics and Development generally.  This informs his research and the facilitation of capacity development opportunities.


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