The local is indigenous – the why, how, what of EvalIndigenous
EvalIndigenous member Awuor Ponge, attended the Canadian Evaluation Society (CES) c2023 Conference in Quebec City in June.
In this blog he unpacks the why, the how and the what of his work on indigenous evaluation, as shared during a panel discussion on Tuesday, 20 June with the title: “The Local is Indigenous: EvalIndigenous Advocacy for Indigenous Evaluation.”
The panel included presenters, Serge Eric Yakeu-Djiam (co-chair of EvalIndigenous) from Cameroon, and Hector Tuy, from Guatemala representing the Indigenous Evaluators from Central and South America.
Why do we have to advocate for Indigenous evaluation?
- Recognising indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing: Indigenous evaluation approaches recognise the unique and valuable knowledge and perspectives of Indigenous peoples, which are often overlooked or undervalued in Western evaluation frameworks.
- Challenging western evaluation frameworks: Western evaluation frameworks have historically been used to exercise power and control over Indigenous peoples, often without their consent.
- Addressing power imbalances: Indigenous evaluation approaches can help to shift the power dynamic in evaluation processes by ensuring that Indigenous peoples are actively engaged in the process and have control over how evaluation data is collected, analyzed, and used.
- Promoting cultural safety and sensitivity: Indigenous evaluation approaches prioritise cultural safety and sensitivity in evaluation processes, which is crucial for ensuring that Indigenous peoples feel comfortable sharing their perspectives and that their cultural practices and values are respected.
- Fostering community-driven evaluation: Indigenous evaluation approaches prioritise community-driven evaluation processes, which involve the active participation of community members in all aspects of the evaluation process.
- Responsiveness to community needs and priorities: This can help to ensure that evaluation processes are relevant to the community’s needs and priorities, and that evaluation results are more likely to be used to inform community decision-making.
How does the Indigenous African Ethical Protocol promotes culturally responsive evaluation?
- Cultural sensitivity: The protocol emphasises respect for cultural norms, values, and traditions during data collection. Be aware of potentially sensitive or taboo topics and approach them with sensitivity. Establish rapport and build trust with participants by demonstrating cultural respect and humility.
- Community engagement: It highlights the importance of involving community members, leaders, or key informants in the data collection process. We should seek their input and guidance to ensure that the methods and questions are culturally relevant and appropriate. Collaborate with local stakeholders to ensure the research aligns with community priorities and needs.
- Local knowledge and context: It demonstrates that incorporating local knowledge, experiences, and context into the data collection and analysis process is critical, and as such, we should consider the cultural meanings and interpretations of concepts, behaviours, and practices of the local communities, and use local examples and illustrations to enhance understanding and relevance.
- Researcher reflexivity: The protocol calls upon the evaluator to reflect on their own cultural biases, assumptions, and perspectives throughout the research process. They should be able to recognise how their own cultural background may influence data collection and interpretation. Consequently, they should strive for cultural humility and openness to diverse perspectives.
- Ethical Considerations: As Evaluators, we should ensure that research activities respect ethical principles and guidelines. Obtain informed consent from participants and respect their rights to privacy, confidentiality, and anonymity. Consider the potential risks and benefits associated with data collection and analysis, particularly in sensitive cultural contexts.