Writing competition on Culturally Responsive Evaluation: Meet the judges!

Jamila Delly Musa Abdulkadir
Contributing partner:
The text: 'Meet the Judges' sits above four profile images of the IEG YEE Writing Competition judges: Dr Mercy Fanadzo, Rai Sengupta, Gabriela Renteria Flores, Walaa Ayasrah

Evaluations are more effective when they consider the cultural context of the country or region where the project or programme was focused. In June 2023, the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) co-hosted a discussion on culturally responsive evaluation (CRE) in collaboration with the Global Evaluation Initiative and EvalYouth and announced a writing competition for Young and Emerging Evaluators (YEE) on CRE. The competition is a part of the year-long celebrations around fifty years of independent evaluation at the World Bank, and its goal is to encourage YEE globally to develop innovative and practical approaches to CRE. IEG, GEI, and EvalYouth have the privilege of welcoming four eminent CRE practitioners as part of the panel of judges for the competition. 

Inviting Innovation in CRE 

CRE is an approach to evaluation that considers the cultural context and values of the individuals or communities being evaluated. It recognizes that culture plays a significant role in shaping people's beliefs, behaviours, and perspectives, and therefore, it is important to consider cultural factors when conducting evaluations.  

To encourage innovative approaches to CRE, IEG, along with GEI, EvalYouth, and BetterEvaluation, are inviting YEEs to participate in a writing competition on culturally responsive evaluation. The deadline for submissions is December 31st, 2023. The competition aims to promote greater culturally responsive and reflective practice among evaluators and to engage evaluators in the majority world to share their expertise on culturally responsive evaluation. Participants are invited to submit essays on four major topics following a set criterion, and the winner and finalists will be hosted at the IEG@50 event "Future of Evaluation", which will take place at the end of February 2024. For full details, visit the competition page here

What do we mean by innovation? Read this blog by Patricia Rogers to learn about some different types of innovation.

Introducing our CRE judges 

The four judges selected for the competition have a wide range of experience in considering and incorporating regional and local cultural dynamics in designing and conducting evaluations.  

Rai Sengupta, Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Consultant, Ecorys London  

Rai Sengupta is an international M&E consultant with over five years of experience in monitoring and evaluation, policy research and data analysis, having worked within government, private consulting, and multilateral organizations. She currently works as a Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Consultant at Ecorys London, wherein she extends specialized MEL support and technical inputs to adolescent well-being and gender-based violence programs in India, Vietnam, Colombia, and Zimbabwe. Prior to this, Rai worked as a Consultant with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), where she helped conduct statistical capacity building and research for APAC countries. She also worked at Invest India, where she managed a strategic research desk for the Ministry of Women and Child Development in India, and at an international development consultancy, IPE Global, where she conducted pan-country evaluations of 24 national programs implemented by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, and the Ministry of Rural Development in India. Rai has an MSc in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Intervention from the University of Oxford, where she studied as a fully funded Weidenfeld Hoffmann Scholar. She also holds a degree in Economics from Shri Ram College of Commerce, University of Delhi. 

Dr Mercy Fanadzo, Program Administrative Officer, CLEAR Anglophone Africa 

Dr Mercy Fanadzo is a Programme Administrative Officer at the Centre for Learning on Evaluation Results – Anglophone Africa, housed at the Witwatersrand University in South Africa. She is involved in evaluations, capacity-strengthening projects, and research. Dr Fanadzo was part of the first cohort of the GEI internship. She holds a PhD in Environmental Health, M. Phil in Monitoring and Evaluation, and B.A. Honours in Development Studies from three different universities in South Africa. 

Walaa Ayasrah, Program Quality and Research - Senior Manager at Jordan River Foundation 

Walaa Ayasrah is the chairperson of the Development Evaluation Association in Jordan (EvalJordan), and the Program Quality and Research Senior Manager at Jordan River Foundation; she holds a bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from Jordan University of Science and Technology and a master's degree in Business Administration from the University of Bedfordshire. Her 10+ years journey into the world of Monitoring, Evaluation, and Research began in international organizations (NRC then DRC), where she honed her expertise. She is now the Head of the Department at the Jordan River Foundation, where she serves as the Program Quality and Research Senior Manager. Simultaneously, she was entrusted with the role of Chairperson for the Development Evaluation Association in Jordan, showcasing her dedication to advancing the field. 

Her career reflects a strong foundation in applying scientific research techniques and overseeing large-scale gender-responsive and culturally responsive research projects and evaluations. She specializes in the development of monitoring, evaluation, and research strategies, including the formulation of policies, procedures, and action plans, in addition to crafting meaningful indicators, tools, and theories of change for projects, programs, and portfolios. 

Gabriela Rentería Flores, Chair EvalYouth Global Network 

Ms. Gabriela Flores is the Chair of EvalYouth and co-lead of Eval4Action. She holds a bachelor's degree in economics and has pursued postgraduate studies in development economics and received training in evaluation methodologies. Her advocacy centers around promoting the participation of Young and Emerging Evaluators (YEEs) throughout the entirety of the evaluation process. 

Gabriela's primary areas of interest encompass public policy, monitoring, and the evaluation of social issues and inclusion. She has experience working in federal public administration, subnational governments, and international organizations. 

This competition is part of IEG’s 50th anniversary celebration at the World Bank Group. For more information, please click here

Blog by Jamila Delly Musa Abdulkadir and Arunjana Das. 

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