The Dr Sulley Gariba memorial lecture series

Deeply indebted to Dr Sulley Gariba for his significant contribution to the field of global evaluation, EvalPartners in partnership with WFP and regional VOPEs, launched in 2021, an annual memorial lecture series to honour his life and legacy.

During his career, Sulley served as a senior presidential advisor, a diplomat, lecturer, and Board Member with several international non-profit organizations and foundations. He was a visionary leader in the global evaluation movement: the founding President of the International Development Evaluation Association (IDEAS) from 2002-2005, the President of the African Evaluation Association (AfrEA) from 2007-2009, and an advocate for Made in Africa Evaluation.

Sulley also played a key role in the African Evaluation Journal, where he supported the idea of an African-based journal for evaluators from the very beginning. He contributed to the concept document to raise resources for the establishment of the journal, and was a founding member of the Editorial Advisory Board until his passing.

The Inaugural Lecture – 10th AfrEA Conference (Virtual)

At the 10th AfrEA Conference in March 2022 (held virtually), the inaugural Sulley Gariba memorial lecture was delivered as a keynote presentation by former AfrEA President and EvalPartners co-chair, Adeline Sibanda.

Hosted on 17 March 2022, it assessed the evolution of the evaluation landscape in Africa and its adequacy for Africa’s present development realities and priorities. Highlighting the role Sulley played in promoting Made in Africa Evaluation, the paper The Evaluation Landscape in Africa: Where are we with Made in Africa Evaluation? was prepared by Botswanan researcher, Prof Bagele Chilisa, guided by a reference group of academics, evaluators and post-colonial thinkers. They included: Mark Abrahams, Grace Igweta, Denis Jobin, Mjiba Frehiwot, Candice Morkel, Zenda Ofir, Rodney Hopson and Adeline Sibanda.

Latin American & Caribbean Sulley Gariba lecture – ReLAC Conference (Quito, Ecuador)

The second memorial lecture took place during the opening ceremony of the 2022 ReLAC Conference in Quito, Ecuador. The plenary lecture, Can we talk about ‘Made in Latin America and the Caribbean’ Evaluation delivered on 15 November, aimed to continue an ongoing dialogue on South-South collaboration in evaluation set in motion at the AfrEA Conference. Prof. Bagele Chilisa joined Latin American panellists Dr Alcides Gussi (Brazil) and Victor Manuel Quintero (Colombia) virtually to further the debate on indigenous evaluation approaches.

The ReLAC research paper was developed by Argentinian researchers, Dr Paula Amaya and Natalia Aquilino. The paper included political and conceptual debates on evaluation in Latin America and the Caribbean, and efforts made to improve regional equity. It suggested that Latin America and the Caribbean can claim a second nexus with Africa’s decolonization approach, and develop a self-strategy towards evaluation concepts and methods. A reference group oversaw the development of the research paper. It included the following members: Victor Manuel Quintero, together with Martha Lanza Meneses (Bolivia) and Breynner Oliveira (Brazil), coordinated by Dr Alcides Gussi, and seconded by WFP Regional Evaluation Officer Natalia Acosta, and ReLAC Chair Dr Celeste Ghiano

The paper was validated during a special workshop held at the ReLAC conference on 18 November together with Focelac+ .

Asia Pacific Sulley Gariba lecture – APEA Conference (Manilla, Philippines)

Working closely with the APEA secretariat and the World Food Programme Regional Bureau for Asia and Pacific, EvalPartners appointed Dr Kathryn Dinh a Vietnamese-Australian evaluator with an academic background in reframing evaluation methods to reflect South-East and East Asian world views to conduct a paper on: Can we talk about a ‘Made in Asia Pacific evaluation’ approach?: Where are we, and where are we heading? The paper was delivered as a keynote lecture at the Asia Pacific Evaluation Association (APEA) in Philippines in December 2023.

Bringing together the lectures in an academic memorial issue

In August 2023, EvalPartners conceptualized the development and launch of a Special Memorial Issue of the African Evaluation Journal, in memory of the late Dr Sulley Gariba building on the memorial lectures delivered by regional VOPES between 2021 and 2023.

Read the call for papers for the Sulley Gariba memorial issue in the African Evaluation Journal HERE

A launch webinar was held in August 2023, to solicit contributions for the Journal. Following the webinar, authors submitted papers from across the continent. The authors of the three lecture series also submitted their papers. The submission process closed in December 2023 and the editing process began in January 2024.

IV Global Evaluation Forum – culmination of lecture series in Rabat, Morocco

The Dr Sulley Gariba memorial lecture series culminated with a tribute session at the EvalPartners Global Evaluation Forum that took place in Rabat, Morocco from 26-28 February.

With the theme Leading progressive, contemporary evaluation practice EvalPartners convened the Forum with a diverse group of 150 delegates including VOPEs, parliaments, governments, organizations for development cooperation, universities, civil societies, and the next generation of evaluators.

“The lecture built on the legacy of Dr Sulley Gariba, and aligned with the Global Evaluation Forum theme, critically explored indigenous evaluation approaches in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Asia Pacific region, and the Middle East,” says WFP evaluation officer, Grace Igweta.

Kathryn Dinh, who wrote the Sulley Gariba paper that was presented at the APEA Conference in Manilla, Philippines, highlighted culturally sensitive and context specific evaluation methods in the Asia Pacific region, while Raquel Herrera from ReLAC shared indigenous approaches from Latin America and the Caribbean.

A special tribute, read by AfrEA Treasurer Isaac Kiwango on behalf of African evaluation youth leaders, lauded Dr Gariba’s multifaceted role in youth engagement.

“Under Dr. Gariba’s leadership, the AfrEA young and emerging evaluator network thrived. He cultivated an inclusive and collaborative environment, where emerging evaluators felt heard and valued. His approachability fostered a sense of community, promoting the exchange of ideas and experiences,” read the tribute.

According to Dr Mark Abrahams, the editor of the African Evaluation Journal, and Session chair, the papers from the lecture series will be published in a forthcoming special memorial issue in the Journal. “The journal and the lectures are an appropriate way to celebrate the important role Sulley played in breaking down knowledge asymmetries between regions and partners and will keep alive the values he stood for”.