End-of-programme evaluation of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA)

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CODESRIA is a Pan-African research council that has a mandate to promote social science research and research within humanities in Africa and its Diaspora. It has activities within three main but strongly inter-related areas: Research, Research Training and Capacity Enhancement and in Publication and Dissemination. These are further supported by a documentation centre that archives and disseminates knowledge to African academics and institutions.

Sida has supported CODESRIA since the 1970s and the collaboration is one of the longest in Sida’s research portfolio.

The objective of this assignment was to evaluate the implementation of CODESRIA’s Strategic Plan for 2017–2021 and the extent to which progress has been achieved particularly in relation to the goals and objectives set out in the Strategic Plan. The purpose or intended use of the evaluation was 1) to provide critical and constructive input to the CODESRIA management towards the design of a new strategic plan for 2022-2026 and 2) to provide Sida and other partners with input on how to best support CODESRIA in the next strategic plan phase. 

As such, the questions of the evaluation were:

Relevance: Is CODESRIA doing the right thing?
• How relevant and strategically important have the thematic research areas identified in the Strategic Plan for 2017–2021 been for targeting the problem summary: “There is insufficient production of high quality social sciences and humanities research in Africa that addresses the priority development challenges of the continent and inadequate engagement with such research”?
• To what extent has the Strategic Plan for 2017–2021 objectives and design responded to beneficiaries’ (the research community) needs, policies, and priorities, and have they continued to do so when circumstances have changed?
• To what extent have lessons learned from what works well and less well been used to improve and adjust implementation of the Strategic Plan 2017–2021?

Coherence: How well does the CODESRIA’s Strategic Plan 2017–2021 fit?
• How compatible has the Strategic Plan 2017–2021 been with other interventions in the region where it is being implemented?

Effectiveness: Is CODESRIA achieving its objectives?
• To what extent has CODESRIA achieved, or is expected to achieve, its objectives, and its results, including any differential results across groups?
• Have the M&E system delivered robust and useful information that could be used to assess progress towards outcomes and contribute to learning? 

Efficiency: How well are resources being used?
• To what extent has CODESRIA delivered, or is likely to deliver, results in an economic and timely way?

Impact: What difference does CODESRIA make?
• To what extent has the implementation of the Strategic Plan 2017–2021 generated, or is expected to generate, significant positive or negative, intended or unintended effects?

Sustainability: Will the benefits last?
• To what extent will the net benefits of the intervention continue, or are likely to continue?

The evaluation also looked into the two following questions:
• Could gender mainstreaming have been improved in planning, implementation or follow up?
• Has the intervention had any positive or negative effects on the environment? Could environmental considerations have been improved in planning, implementation or follow up?

The overall assessment of CODESRIA during the period under evaluation is positive. Still, CODESRIA is facing basic dilemmas in terms of how the organisation is to relate to and become more relevant for its overarching goal. There is scope for short-term change and improvements, but CODESRIA should consider alternative strategic options and make careful decisions in the new SP. CODESRIA is found highly relevant for Africa at a time when critical social science research is increasingly under pressure. CODESRIA has more limited relevance for the best African SSH researchers, who seem to have found other publication platforms for their work. CODESRIA’s relevance for the donor objective of ‘poverty reduction and sustainable development’ is less clear due to the organisations limited focus on research dissemination beyond academia. CODESRIA’s two most important managerial constraints are delays in publications and vacant positions for senior staff. 

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