Building Bridges and Breaking Language Barriers: Strengthening Monitoring and Evaluation in Latin America and the Caribbean

GEI cohosted a roundtable discussion with ReLAC, a network of VOPEs in the region, and CEI, the regional VOPE in the Caribbean at gLOCAL2023 to discuss collaboration, shared experiences, and ways to strengthen M&E in both Latin America and the Caribbean.
26 June 2023

As part of the gLOCAL Evaluation Week 2023, GEI cohosted a roundtable discussion with two regional voluntary organizations for professional evaluation (VOPEs), the Caribbean Evaluators International (CEI) and the Network for Monitoring, Evaluation, and Systematization in Latin America and Spanish and Portuguese-speaking Caribbean (ReLAC). The event was also held in partnership with the CARICOM Secretariat and the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute for Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) of the University of West Indies.  

The event was the second out of eight gLOCAL sessions organized in the Caribbean. The invited panel included: 

  • Thania de la Garza, Consultant and Independent Evaluator, Global Evaluation Initiative (Moderator) 
  • Celeste Ghiano, Coordinator, ReLAC 
  • Alfredo Domínguez, Vice-coordinator, ReLAC 
  • Valerie Gordon, President, Caribbean Evaluators International (CEI) 
  • Nadine Persaud, member, CEI member and Lecturer, University of West Indies 

Latin America and the Caribbean (LaC) are more than often addressed as a whole, however, aside from similarities, there are differences and multiple contexts within. LAC is composed of 46 countries, but differences can be found even at the subregional level. Acknowledging the differences, taking advantage of similarities, and building upon them will lead to stronger collaboration toward improving lives by promoting evidence-based decision-making in the region. 

The panel discussed the benefits of working together and emphasized that opportunities to overcome barriers can translate into joint work opportunities.  Although acknowledging differences like language, the participants focused on how to take advantage of similarities to build a bright future for M&E in LAC.  

Much of the panel’s discussion centered around the three themes of this year’s gLOCAL Evaluation Week: context, culture, and collaboration.  The panelists from CEI and ReLAC agreed that historical and cultural differences in the region must be acknowledged.  Also, there must be a collaborative effort to bridge those differences to create more spaces to share and learn from each other. The possibility of developing common principles with enough flexibility to be helpful in a variety of contexts while respecting the culture and continuing to speak a common M&E language was discussed. Finally, panelists, attendees, and moderators agreed on the relevance of promoting dialogue in spaces such as gLOCAL to jointly strengthen M&E in LAC.  

Both networks will continue their intensive work in the region. They will increase collaboration, identify strategies, and take advantage of available tools to overcome some of the main difficulties to working together such as language differences, considering there are common agendas to face.  

“It is very important that technology may help us to break the barrier of language…we can use materials in English or Spanish and use the opportunity to make a repository for LAC that brings to the table to discuss ideas of context, standards and other issues to talk about,” suggested Alfredo Domínguez.  It was discussed that GEI’s BetterEvaluation knowledge platform has a variety of materials in Spanish that are all open access and could be used as a basis for discussion.   

To summarize the discussion, Nadini Persaud, suggested that “Next steps start by finding common ground and making existing recipes context-relevant … we have to be more open-minded to see how we can work with basic recipes and add to that in a collaborative process.” 

To watch the replay of this event, click here.

Make sure to visit the gLOCAL website to view videos and other documents from a variety of 2023 gLOCAL events. Please note: event organizers are adding content every day, so check back often.