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Continental issues at the heart of PhD research

06 July 2018

Three WSG students recently graduated with their PhDs. Here are the abstracts:


Dr Peter Misigalo Wandwasi

Metaevaluation (evaluation of evaluations) contributes significantly in clarifying and resolving evident causes of inconsistencies in the evaluation outcomes, and enhances the effectiveness of development interventions. It is a specialised form of evaluation, which helps in judging the strengths and weaknesses of a primary evaluation so that interested parties in the intervention are able to judge the reliability and credibility of an evaluation and the evidence used to make decisions. The problem this research sought to solve was that, whilst it was evident that the majority of poverty-reduction interventions funded by the World Bank through its Poverty Reduction Support Credits (PRSCs) in Uganda had been systematically evaluated in order to measure their effectiveness, there was overall evidence of remarkable inconsistencies in the evaluation outcomes of the effectiveness of these poverty-reduction interventions in Uganda.

Using four selected evaluation cases of poverty-reduction interventions of the World Bank, funded through its PRSCs and mixed methods approach (case studies, document analysis and descriptive frequency statistics) based on the Program Evaluation Standards (PES) developed by the Joint Committee in 1994, the main task of the research was to assess how effectively these selected evaluations met the requirements of a good evaluation in order to clarify and resolve evident causes of such inconsistencies. The theoretical basis for good programme evaluation upon which this thesis was based is driven mainly by the quest to promote accountability, transparency and social enquiry, and heightens the demand for increased use of participatory approaches in designing and evaluating development interventions. However, within the context of this theoretical basis, the existing compulsory associated standards for evaluating the quality of evaluations based on the PES provide limited methodological scope and coverage towards assessing the quality of evaluations of social development interventions, which exacerbated these inconsistencies in evaluation outcomes of the effectiveness of poverty-reduction interventions in Uganda.

Confronted with this conundrum, the researcher makes one knowledge contribution to the methodology for conducting metaevaluations based on PES. Contrary to heightened demand for increased use of participatory approaches in designing and evaluating social development interventions based on the theoretical basis, which underpinned this study, the evidence from the analysis of the findings surprisingly revealed that a full range of stakeholders was not adequately identified and engaged in the designing and evaluation processes. Whilst stakeholder identification is not prescribed as an exclusive compulsory associated standard based on the PES by which to measure the quality of evaluations, it is empirically plausible to elevate stakeholder identification grounded in the interactive style of evaluative inquiry which is based on the assumption that those with direct vested interests in the intervention should also control the evaluation of the intervention as an additional independent compulsory associated standard under Utility Standards based on the PES when conducting metaevaluations of evaluations of not only poverty-reduction interventions, but also other social development interventions.

The elevation of Stakeholder Identification (US1) as an additional independent compulsory associated standard under Utility Standards (US) based on the PES can play an important role of not only contributing towards a better resolution of plausible causes of inconsistencies in the evaluation outcomes of the effectiveness of social development interventions, but can also contribute to a better understanding of how, in practice, the identification and engagement of a full range of stakeholders enhances the promotion of the principles of accountability, transparency and participation, all of which are grounded in theories for good programme evaluation. These principles, if correctly applied, can also insulate evaluation processes of social development interventions from other causes of inconsistencies, such as bureaucratic bottlenecks and conflict of interest.


Dr Dimpho Motsamai

The purpose of this thesis is to contribute to research on how peacemaking interventions by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in member states experiencing recurrent political conflicts should be evaluated, and how their effectiveness can be measured.

Peacemaking is understood as a varied approach to resolving conflicts, encompassing negotiation, diplomatic engagement, and mediation. Mediation refers to third party facilitation aimed at resolving conflicts. The main argument is that SADC mediation–which forms the core of its approach to peacemaking – is not oriented towards transforming conflicts.

Most, if not all, of the political conflicts SADC has mediated have recurred in one form or another. These include conflicts in Lesotho, the recipient of the most SADC interventions to date in any member state since SADC’s formation, as well as Zimbabwe, whose political situation remained precarious five years after SADC mediation.

Moreover, SADC lacks formal criteria for evaluating the efficacy of its mediation efforts. This has also been limited by the way in which it problematises conflicts, and conceptualises their resolution.

This study applies the concept of systemic conflict transformation (SCT) as a conceptual framework for evaluating SADC’s mediation efforts in Lesotho and Zimbabwe. It finds that SADC was effective in managing those crises in the short term, but that the link between short-term progress and the longer-term transformation of conflicts was underemphasised in its mediation mandates. This is attributed to the absence of a comprehensive peacebuilding framework; an inadequate institutional interface between SADC and the countries in which it mediates; and an over-reliance on ‘track one’ diplomacy that excludes non-state and developmental partners from its peacemaking processes.

The study concludes that the main condition driving SADC’s effectiveness in achieving conflict transformation is the degree to which it draws a distinction between achieving the objectives of its broader peacemaking mandate, and those outlined in the specific mediation mandate. It further concludes that the efficacy of SADC’s mediation efforts

should therefore be evaluated against its broader regional mandate to promote democracy, stability, and development in its member states, regardless of the specificities of the given mediation.


Dr Qhubani Moyo

The research sought to find out whether the decision-making institutions of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) allow for stakeholder participation in policy-making. It is premised on an understanding that SADC claims to provide for stakeholder participation in its policy-making processes. This is stated in Article 23 of the SADC founding treaty which speaks of the institution’s desire to open up democratic space and allow for inclusivity in decision-making. Furthermore, there are practical and operational provisions for the participation of citizens through the SADC National Committees (SNCs) and an agreement with the SADC Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (CNGO).

The research was done in 12 SADC countries, namely: Tanzania, Mauritius, Swaziland, Botswana, Lesotho, Seychelles, Malawi, South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. It was a qualitative study done through interviews of civil-society organisations (CSOs), government officials and employees of the SADC Secretariat. Data was collected using both primary and secondary data methods. Primary data was sourced from four categories of respondents, including: senior officials from the SADC Secretariat, senior government officials whose duties require interaction with civil-society institutions and senior officials from the SADC-CNGO.

Secondary research data was sourced from documents, including records of the minutes of the SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government (Summit), the minutes of the SADC Council of Ministers (COM), SADC communiqués, SADC policy documents, civil-society policy drafts, SADC protocols, CSOs and SADC press releases.

The key finding was that while in its founding documents SADC provides for participation of stakeholders in the policy-making processes, it is a different story in practice. The research revealed that the statutes of SADC, which speak of a need for promoting the participation of stakeholders in policy-making processes, have been largely ignored, as there is monopolisation of power by the SADC institution of the Summit. The primary institution for the participation of stakeholders in policy-making was identified as the SNCs, but these were found to be non-operational in most of the countries where the research was conducted. The reason for the inactive SNCs was identified as the absence of a structured framework by SADC to operationalise what is provided for in its statutes.

The research found that if SADC is to achieve its goal of enhancing stakeholder participation in its policy-making processes, it needs to revive and strengthen the SNCs in each member state.  The research concludes that for SADC to ensure effective stakeholder participation in its decision-making processes, the first point of call is to rehabilitate, strengthen and resource the SNCs. The research further concludes that civil society also needs to strengthen its organisational capacity for effective engagement with SADC leadership. The limitations of representative democracy are identified as one of the inhibiting factors for limited participation by stakeholders in SADC policy-making processes, and the research proposes the application of deliberative democracy as a way of enhancing stakeholder participation in the decision-making processes of the institution.