First conference of the West Africa Capacity-building and Impact Evaluation (WACIE) Program | La première conférence du Programme de renforcement des capacités et d'évaluation de l'impact en Afrique de l'Ouest (WACIE)

3ie and the Government of Benin organised a two-day conference to present the West Africa Capacity-building and Impact Evaluation (WACIE) program activities, and share findings from a scoping study on evaluation capacity and opportunities in the region. Panel discussions, presentations, and workshops were organized around the theme, ‘Impact evaluation in francophone Africa: it’s time to act’. Training sessions were offered on techniques for communicating research results, stakeholder engagement, and evaluation  methods.

Start Date: 28 January 2019 End Date: 29 January 2019
Ollivier GirardCIFOR

Around 150 participants, including practitioners, researchers, evaluation professionals, universities, and civil society from the West Africa Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) countries attended the conference.

Venue: Benin Marina Hôtel, 19 BP 1901 Boulevard de la Marina Cotonou Bénin

Highlights from the sessions

3ie panels

Chair: Elias Segla, Bureau of Public Policy Evaluation and Analysis of Government Action, Benin
Panellists: Deo-Gracias Houndolo, 3ie WACIE secretariat, Agbessi Amouzou, John Hopkins University

Panellists presented the results of the literature review on impact evaluations in WAEMU countries from 1990 to 2018. They found that the number of impact evaluations conducted and published in WAEMU countries has increased from 2009 to 2018. Prior to 2009, impact evaluations were quite rare in these countries. However, there is an unequal distribution of studies across countries and there are few evaluations in key sectors, including, environment and nutrition.

Chair: Emmanel David-Gnahoui, UAC
Panellists: Deo-Gracias Houndolo, 3ie WACIE secretariat, Agbessi Amouzou, John Hopkins University

Panellists presented the results of an upcoming scoping paper on the supply of and demand for impact evaluations in WAEMU countries. This study shows that impact evaluation is not necessarily central to the priorities of governments in WAEMU countries. Authors also shared that few stakeholders in the region are involved or familiar with impact evaluations.

Chair: Souraya Hassan, UNICEF- Benin and Cheikh Mbacke, Hewlett Foundation
Panellists: Abdel WACIE focal point Benin, Jules Nayodah, WACIE focal point Togo Mariama Ndiaye Seck, WACIE focal point, Senegal, Grinnakan Oumar Sako, WACIE focal point, Cote d’Ivoire, Bonkano Zakari  WACIE focal point, Niger

Panellists observed that national evaluation systems are similar across WAEMU countries and do not place much emphasis on impact evaluations, while traditional forms of evaluation are prioritised. For this to change, it is necessary for national evaluation systems to establish effective monitoring and evaluation systems and develop institutional and technical capacity to commission and conduct impact evaluations. 

Chair: Cyrille Agossou, United Nations Population Fund
Panellists: Juan Jose Liguia, IFAD; Michele Tarsilla, UNICEF; Sondo Eloi Somtinda, Centre de Recherche sur le Développement Appliquée (CRDA); Richard Houessou, African School of Economics

Panellists shared their experiences in conducting impact evaluations in the French-speaking countries of West Africa and identified challenges as well as solutions. They discussed several challenges, ranging from issues of designing, collecting data, and conducting studies, disseminating results, and publishing. These include the identification of counterfactuals, difficulties in developing designs, duration of evaluations, and access to secondary data, hard to navigate administrative procedures to collect data and so on.

Chair: Saidou Magagi, World Food Programme
Panellists: Maria Laura Alzua, Partnership for Economic Policy; Clementine Assede, African School of Economics; Bernard Togba, IBTCI; Cassendre Pignon, ID Insight; Juan Jose Liguia, IFAD

The panel shared their experiences with building capacity to conduct impact evaluations in the WAEMU countries. Among the difficulties they encountered, include the lack of qualified trainers and limited partnerships with other institutions and the government.

Chair: Marie Gaarder, 3ie
Panellists: Damit Serge Didier Amany, BOAD; Foday Turay, BAD; Maria Laura Alzua, Partnership for Economic Policy

Panellists discussed the financing of impact evaluations and listed several constraints in the region. These include not budgeting for impact evaluations studies in the initial budgets of larger development programmes, the lack of involvement of national actors, the weakness of national statistical systems, and the relatively long duration and high cost of impact evaluations. They recommend establishing partnerships with donors to facilitate funding for impact evaluations.

Training sessions

Facilitators: Abdoulaye Gonou, Government of Benin- Bureau of Public Policy Evaluation and Analysis of Government Action; Deo-Gracias Houndolo, WACIE Regional Coordinator

This training focused on effective communication by introducing participants to the concept of the elevator speech and the message box approach. An elevator speech is a short speech that outlines an interest (project, research, work, and so on) meant to quickly draw the listener’s attention and create the opportunity for a further meeting; i.e. the speech should be the duration of an elevator ride, from thirty to 60 seconds. The message box approach is a way to plan and organize the speech around important elements for your target audience. A well-organised elevator speech is an effective means of getting the attention of policy makers or other stakeholders to then establish a meeting to discuss your project or work in greater detail.

Facilitators: Marie Gaarder, 3ie; Rosaine Yegbemey, 3ie

This training also focused on effective communication and dissemination of research results to improve public policies. The training focused on three main areas. The first was to define stakeholder engagement and influence of public policies, and to explain why these are important. The second was to present 3ie’s approach to ensuring ongoing engagement of stakeholders to influence public policy. The third was to review different approaches to dissemination of research results. Subsequently, the participants split into two groups to practice ways of communication and guided questions.

Facilitators: Anca Dumitrescu, 3ie; Pierre Durand and Cassandre Pignon, IDInsight

IDInsight started the training by introducing the principle of the three ‘P’s’ for informed decision-making, which include pertinence, potential and the price to be paid. The first ‘P’ Pertinence is required assess if the tool is adapted to the needs of the program. By potential, we mean to understand the benefits to using the tool by decision makers. The third principle, price to be paid, is to see if the objective of the monitoring and evaluation strategy deserves the investment in the programme. The principles of the three ‘P’s’ makes it possible to ask the right questions in order to make better-informed decisions. Anca Dumitrescu provided examples and case studies of what went well and what did not with various evaluations, including pit-falls of impact evaluations, responsibility of researchers in presenting their findings, and importance of mixed methods to interpret results.


This is a regional initiative to promote the institutionalisation of evaluation in government systems across eight countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. This program is a partnership between 3ie and the Government of Benin. Visit the WACIE program page to know more.