Ghana Trailblazer Sulley Gariba Celebrated in Launch of WFP-backed Journal

A Ghanaian’s groundbreaking achievements in promoting the value of indigenous knowledge and made in Africa evaluation approaches was recognized in a special ceremony in Accra, Ghana on 13 June.

The late Dr Sulley Bamidele Gariba’s work as international advocate for evidence-informed policymaking was now being celebrated at home in a ceremony that saw the launch of a special memorial issue of the African Evaluation Journal.

The journal, supported by the United Nations World Food Programme and partners, features articles
penned by scholars from across the world, inspired by Sulley Gariba’s vigour to challenge historical
thinking and tackle unequal power relations.

It was handed to the Gariba family during an intimate event held at the University of Ghana hosted by the African Evaluation Association and EvalPartners.

Barbara Clemens, WFP Country Director in Ghana, said: “WFP is proud to be part of an initiative that
supports indigenous knowledge systems in Ghana and beyond. This special compilation of academic
work celebrates not only evidence itself, but also the very power of local stories and approaches that
strengthen these evidence systems.”

Dr Mark Abrahams, the Journal’s Editor-in-Chief, said it was “apt to celebrate Sulley Gariba’s legacy in this way” as he played a key role in the Journal’s conception and was a founding member of its Editorial Advisory Board.

“The African Evaluation Journal is delighted to commemorate Sulley with this special memorial issue,” he said.

“His friend and colleague, Prof Edward Jackson, poignantly said in a eulogy after his passing [in
2021]: ‘Sulley understood that deep-seated asymmetries of power and knowledge prevented universal
access to affordable basic services. Because of this, he sought to equalize power and knowledge to
shatter these asymmetries and replace them with reciprocal partnerships of respect and mutual
benefit’.”

Inspired by Gariba’s theory of Made in Africa evaluation, three academic lectures led by EvalPartners,
took place in partnership with regional Voluntary Organizations for Professional Evaluation between
2022 and 2023. The first in Harare, Zimbabwe (held virtually), the second in Quito, Ecuador, and the third in Manilla, Philippines.

All three papers were included as academic articles in the memorial issue.

More than 15 years ago, Dr Gariba challenged those gathered at an AfrEA conference in Niamey, Niger,
to ‘make evaluation our own’. The Made in Africa evaluation challenge was not a point of arrival or
departure, but rather one that surfaced the beneficial attributes of indigenous knowledge systems and
practice.

These beneficial attributes strongly align with Agenda 2030 of the Sustainable Development Goals in the engagement of indigenous peoples to ensure inclusive and equitable development, and the
implementation of the SDGs.

“The concepts that Sulley Gariba supported fully aligns with the WFP Office of Evaluation’s approach to
national evaluation capacity development,” said Anne-Claire Luzot, WFP Director of Evaluation.

“In particular the strengthening of evaluation systems in the Global South, in line with a UNGA resolution on country-led evaluation, leave no one behind and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”