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Zulaikha Brey: Deputy Treasurer & Deputy Operations


About me: I head up the Financial Empowerment and Monitoring and Evaluation Practice (FE-M&E) at DNA Economics – where I lead a diverse team of experienced and emerging evaluators. I have over 15 years of research experience, with a strong focus on programme design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation. By combining my academic background in development economics and development finance with M&E, I have developed a diverse skill set which has allowed me to apply the principles of M&E in a wide range of focus areas including trade, finance, health, education, entrepreneurship, employment, and socio-economic development. I also provide M&E mentorship to clients, in an effort to ensure that they are able to.

My past involvement with SAMEA: As an active member of SAMEA since 2016, this affiliation has been instrumental to my development as an M&E consultant. It has not only granted me access to M&E resources, workshop and seminars - it has also connected me to a network of academics, consultants and practitioners, both in South Africa and abroad. All of this has contributed significantly to both my personal and professional growth. In more recent years, I have had the privilege of deepening my involvement with SAMEA by actively participating in various initiatives such as hackathons, communities of practice, and even publishing, as well as co- facilitating in the SAMEA workshop series. My continued involvement in SAMEA has been invaluable in helping me keep up with developments in the field of M&E – which is constantly evolving.

What is the biggest challenge facing M&E in SA: The challenges in M&E are ever-changing, and it is our responsibility to continuously look out for these. Some of the challenges I currently see relates to both how we do M&E (process), and in how we use M&E (outputs). 1. M&E is still often seen as tick-box exercise. Continued advocacy and education is needed for all players in the development sector to understand and appreciate the true value of M&E. 2. M&E is predominantly used retrospectively, rather than proactively. Even when M&E is set up during the design of a programme, the data collected throughout implementation is often not used until the periodic independent evaluations come around (in other word, monitoring is sometimes still only seen as a way of collecting the data for evaluations). Advocacy is needed to drive the usage of monitoring data by M&E practitioners (internal M&E) for proactive programme management and improvement. 3. There is a lot of knowledge sharing around the way to do M&E, but not a lot of sharing on the results from M&E – which could be used as a basis for better programme design and implementation in the future. More discourse is needed on how we could potentially share the findings from evaluations more broadly (to learn from what others have done) and/ or to store this in a central “searchable” repository for ease of access (within confidentiality and privacy concerns).

What should SAMEA do in the next three years? Continue with the great work. SAMEA has done a fantastic job creating platforms for discourse between the demand and supply side of M&E, advocating for the adoption of M&E in all development focused efforts (across government, donors, the private sector and NPOs), and in driving the professionalisation of M&E to cover the skills gap in the sector. SAMEA should now also expand its focus to newer areas, becoming part of the discourse around frameworks (especially in the private sector) such as social return on investments (SROI) and impact investing. There is a lot that M&E can offer to these new fields, particularly around the measurement of developmental outcomes.

How will I help them? By sharing my practical knowledge, skills, and experience working as both an economist and M&E specialist with government, multilateral institutions, donors, corporates, and non-profit organisation - with the next generation of evaluators, helping them develop the critical skills for effective and adaptive M&E. I am also keen to continue working on – and to take on a bigger role in, finding new methods and ways to conduct M&E in specific contexts, and in M&E for systemic change. I also have a keen interest in the impact investing space, where I believe that M&E can contribute to the way in which the developmental outcomes of such investments are assessed.