“The most enjoyable was the start of the AfrEA, or really the ‘parent association’ the Nairobi M&E Network. This was a group of people working in evaluation who I invited to come to a monthly meeting to share their work and discuss their study proposals and drafts, or just hold brainstorming sessions. It was a very open forum. Participants were encouraged to invite and bring their friends. As I was travelling a lot in Eastern and Southern Africa, and found it boring sitting in my hotel room in the evenings, I started asking the UNICEF M&E Officers to invite a similar group of people to meet while I was visiting their countries. We generally found a lot to talk about and that meeting was effectively the first meeting of most of the first half a dozen national M&E groups in Africa.
These groups naturally wanted to meet each other, so in 1999 my office in UNICEF organized the first meeting of AfrEA as an umbrella body in support of these national groups. Over 300 participants from 35 countries attended the inaugural conference and 88 papers were presented in 7 parallel topical strands.
Being part of the birth of the AfrEA was one of the most satisfying components of my working life.