Looking particularly into the Indian context, here are some of the thoughts, while we undertake the journey towards SDGs:
1. to what extent evaluations are taken seriously by relevant stakeholders? How evaluations & integration of its results can be made mandatory for any development program, be it by the Government, by Corporate, or by NGOs? How evaluations can go beyond a formality / routine exercise and taken seriously by all concerned: as a tool for change, as a process to enhance program relevance & effectiveness, as a way to enhance inclusion of the excluded?
2. To what extent evaluations are (not only) gender-responsive but also responsive to all types of exclusion, marginalization, vulnerabilities & inequalities: do we have adequate, appropriate, effective tools and techniques to make evaluations responsive to inequality and exclusion? During evaluations, are we really able to reach to the "most excluded" population & include their voices?
3. To what extent evaluations are participatory, realistic, context-specific, customized and use-focused? To what extent the findings and recommendations from the evaluations are "actually used" to bring the desired changes? The "Fear Factor" with evaluation is still very high, and the hide & seek game goes on during evaluations: how to make evaluations enabling and facilitative so that it can create ownership among all stakeholders & contribute to positive changes, leading to SDG?
4. How evaluations can influence the larger players in the development sector: particularly the government, whose financial investment will be the maximum, for programs aimed at SDG? Can evaluations influence & guide the policy making at the government level to make government development programs gender-responsive, fully inclusive and based on the principles of equity and equality? And beyond that, how evaluations can influence the decision making process at the international community level?
For finding realistic solutions to the above challenges, we, the evaluators and evaluation communities need to come closer and together, not merely to share thoughts and theoretical perspectives, but to share our individual and institutional resources, in terms of effective tools, techniques, designs and methodologies, to make evaluations responsive and inclusive. By coming together, not only we can enrich each other, build our own capacities further and find out ways & measures for better evaluations, but also advocate for including the voices of the excluded at different forums, and engage with and influence the larger players in the development sector. Be it a small evaluation organization or a large, we have to take the ownership and responsibility to customize our evaluations in such a manner that it always contributes to SDG.
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