ESK’s institutional evolution is a classic case of the adage, “do not despise small beginnings”. From very humble beginnings, I founded the Society with the support of the government’s Monitoring & Evaluation Department (MED) and a team of dedicated M&E practitioners. The efforts were a follow-up action on the recommendations of a meeting held by African representatives at the 2008 International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) in Canada, which I attended. Related discussions centered on putting evaluation practice on the continent’s national agenda with a special focus on the contributions of evaluation professional associations. Significantly, during the discussions it was noted that the status of the associations on the continent ranged from being weak, dormant or non-existent. Compounding this was that the national cultures and practice for evidence-driven socio-economic in the continent were also weak. That remains the case to date.
Looking back, I am amazed that the Society has now evolved into a public good. Particularly, because its nurturing from the onset was mainly through volunteerism. Specifically, by the support of the initial team mentioned above, subsequent boards and the wider membership. Slowly and surely development partners joined the government in recognizing and rewarding these efforts. I shall forever remain grateful for this affirmation and support, coupled with God’s super-natural help.
I am very confident that a solid foundation has been laid for the Society to add value to Kenya’s developmental discourse through the evidence agenda and under our new and future boards. And essentially so, with the continued membership and stakeholder support to associations, each country would approach things differently - based on the local context. This should however be informed by the results of a rigorous internal assessment before any model (professional, incorporated bodies, etc.) is adopted. Subsequently, and based on these recommendations, Jennifer Mutua, with the support of the NIMES and a team of M&E practitioners1 came together to provide a way forward in operationalizing a vibrant evaluation professional body. Due diligence through an informal internal assessment of whether or not a professional evaluation association existed was conducted. The findings revealed that indeed, there existed KEA.