Using co-creation to address monitoring and evaluation challenges: The experience of South Africa’s evaluation hackathon

In 2021, the South African Monitoring and Evaluation Association facilitated an evaluation hackathon that engaged diverse stakeholders in co-creation processes to develop practical solutions to address complex problems facing the monitoring and evaluation sector. The event catalysed broad-based ownership and enabled the South African Monitoring and Evaluation Association to coordinate the creative energy, commitment and resources of its members, government and other partners to achieve outcomes that would not be possible to achieve otherwise. The article analyses the co-creation approach adopted for the hackathon across four phases, namely initiation, process design/planning, co-design and development and application/follow-up. A retrospective analysis of the process and results identified eight key elements that enabled or impeded the successful completion of hackathon outputs and their conversion into useful products. These elements are facilitative leadership, purposive stakeholder selection, a well-delimited task, preparation, process facilitation, a valued product, voluntary contributions and further capacity. The lessons learnt provide useful insight for future efforts to generate localised, contextualised responses to evaluation problems.