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Democratic Evaluation and Democracy in International Development with Carlisle Levine and Stephen Porter

  • Thu, July 13, 2017
  • 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM
  • InterAction, 1400 16th Street, NW; Suite 210, Washington, DC


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Please join us for a moderated panel discussion on Democratic Evaluation and Democracy in International Development with Carlisle Levine and Stephen Porter. This session highlights the chapters that Carlisle and Stephen contributed to the recently published book, Democratic Evaluation and Democracy: Exploring the Reality (edited by Donna Podems, University of Johannesburg).

This afternoon session will be held on Thursday, July 13 from 3:00-4:30pm at InterAction (1400 16th Street, NW; Suite 210, Washington, DC)

WE members also have access to the members-only call-in number. Please indicate if you will be attending in person or using the conference line.

Democratic Evaluation and Democracy: Exploring the Reality

How to Democratize Evaluation Practice: A Challenge for Non-Governmental Organizations and Donors 

Carlisle's chapter describes how non-governmental organizations’ assistance is becoming more democratic, and explores the degree to which their evaluation practice is following suit. It then provides a brief review of democratic evaluation and explains core elements of the democratic evaluation approach. For those who want to consider applying democratic evaluation in a context in which a non-governmental organization is funded by a donor, the chapter outlines the conditions necessary and details how an organization can prepare to adopt such an approach, including how to do so incrementally. The chapter concludes by discussing the longer-term implications of using a democratic approach, and offers special considerations for democratic evaluation in democratizing or undemocratic contexts.

A Framework for Identifying Entry Points for International Development Evaluation to Enable Responsive Government Policy

In this session, Stephen will: (1) Link the exercise of political power to evaluation systems; (2) Introduce useful political economy categories; (3) Provide example applications of the categories; (4) Highlight some lessons learnt about linking evaluation to policy processes.

International development evaluation, which prioritizes values linked to poverty eradication, can help policy respond to marginalized people’s concerns. Power imbalances, however, mean that although evaluation that applies the standards of international development has mechanisms to contribute to the improved responsiveness of government, the interests of poor people are often excluded from the process (House & Howe, 1999). In this chapter, a framework that utilizes principal-agent concepts is applied, drawing on five case studies, and some potential entry-points for evaluation to support policy processes to respond to poor and marginalized people are highlighted. The discussion provides initial evidence of the applicability of the principal–agent concepts to the implementation of international development evaluation practice so that it can better enable responsive policy decisions.


Carlisle Levine is an international development, peacebuilding and advocacy evaluator with 25 years of international development experience and 18 years of evaluation experience. She is a skilled facilitator and trainer with expertise in leading complex evaluations, building staff evaluation capacity, developing M&E systems, fostering collaborative learning processes within dispersed and diverse teams, and developing knowledge sharing systems. She has contributed to organizational strategic decision making and more effective practices for foundations, international non-governmental organizations and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Prior to launching her own evaluation consulting firm, BLE Solutions, LLC, in 2012, Carlisle worked for CARE USA, Catholic Relief Services, USAID and the Inter-American Foundation, as well as with InterAction. She has lived in Costa Rica, Mexico and Burundi, and traveled for work to many more countries in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. Carlisle received her BA from Yale in 1991, and her MALD and PhD from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in 1999 and 2003 respectively.

Stephen Porter is currently the Director for the Learning, Effectiveness and Accountability Department at Oxfam America. Stephen has experience in development practice, including: NGO, academic, donor and experience applying a rights-based approach to evaluation.  Previously, Stephen was Evaluation Advisor for Market Development at the UK Department for International Development.  He has also served as a monitoring, evaluation and learning advisor for the Regional AIDS Initiative of Southern Africa, and the African Medical and Research Foundation.  In 2010 Stephen  assumed the role of Lecturer in Monitoring and Evaluation and Director of the Center for Learning on Evaluation and Results for Anglophone Africa at the University of Witwatersrand. He holds an MPhil in Public Policy from the University of Cape Town. He has undertaken PhD research on a rights-based approach to development evaluation at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Stephen has published nine peer reviewed journal and book chapters on the topic of evaluation systems and development. Stephen has lived in South Africa and worked across Africa and more recently Latin America, as well as advising on evaluation activities in a number of other countries.

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