Several weeks ago, 20 representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, and Fishing (MAEP) benefitted from an intensive 30 day training in Impact Evaluation of Public Policies. The training was given by the African School of Economics and took place from July 24 to September 8, 2017. The activity was financed by the Belgian Technical Cooperation (BTC) through its Project to Support Beninese Organizations through the Reinforcement of Competencies (PAORC). Yannick Kouakanou, national technical assistant at PAORC, has granted us an interview on the subject.
ASE: Hello, Mr. Kouakanou!
Y. Kouakanou: Hello!
ASE: Why did the BTC agree to support the MAEP in the context of this training in Impact Evaluation?
Y. Kouakanou: It’s an activity that was not initially entered in our budget. However, MAEP requested our assistance to accompany their efforts on the impact evaluation of public policies, notably of agricultural policies. In light of the relevance and need, and after having consulted the different primary and strategic partners of the ministry, we agreed to support this initiative. We that found that public administrators abilities in the field of impact evaluation of policies in general—and of public policies—are weak or nonexistent. Thus for us, it was an opportunity that was really necessary to seize to support the efforts of the ministry in matters of evaluation. We therefore accepted. We have had a lot of discussions with the African School of Economics training school, with the beneficiaries, and finally this all became concrete.
ASE: What motivated you to validate the MAEP’s choice of ASE to give this training?
Y. Kouakanou: When the MAEP brought the matter forward in proposing ASE, we asked ourselves: Why would we choose this school and not another?
You know, according to the procedures of the BTC, it is always necessary to issue a competitive call before selecting a provider. But the fact of the matter was that, according to our investigations, ASE was the only in the national territory to deliver a certificate in the field of impact evaluation of public policy. There are other schools that give trainings related to project evaluation, project management, or even at times the evaluation of public policies, but not impact evaluation. So for us, it was really the only valid offer on the market. We did research on the credibility of the school, on its reputation at the regional level, and we were reassured, having understood that we could place our confidence in this school.
ASE: You have finished financing the MAEP in the context of reinforcing its representatives’ capacities. What is the next objective of PAORC?
Y. Kouakanou: We strongly hope that the same process will take place at the level of the Ministry of Health. Because the CTB intervenes globally in two domains: the agricultural sector and the health sector. If we have a budget, and the Ministry of Health expresses the need to undergo training in impact evaluation, I believe that it would be a great experience for us.
Furthermore, at the level of the Minsitry of Agriculture, this activity is not yet finished, according to us. Because the assistance that we provided to the MAEP does not stop with certification. Outside of the certification of the representatives who were trained, we want ASE to accompany them in the effective implementation, the applications in the field of evaluation of a policy, of a program that will have retained a common accord with them. After the training phase, we will arrange that the school, and as a function of the available budget for accompanying the application of all that has been learned. The final goal is to have a document of impact evaluation produced by the learners themselves with the coaching of the trainers. So that’s the next step.
ASE: What is the budget that served to finance the training that just took place with the MAEP?
Y. Kouakanou: The budget, it must be noted that this was among the things that impressed us favorably on the subject of ASE with regard to PAORC. Extremely affordable! And what is also interesting is that the budget enabled us to cover the entire process. What was a bit difficult for us and what we could not take on, was the choice of participants to relocate the training and organize it in an intensive manner. They preferred not to do three sessions a week, but to do it through seminars relocated from Cotonou. The budget, we couldn’t support it, but fortunately, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), another technical partner took charge of that.