Evaluation of the: Country Assessment Process (CAP) September 2011
Since early 2009, MANI has been encouraging a country by country process to assess and update the basic information about people groups in all countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. The goal has been to: “validate and possibly update existing ethno-linguistic people group information, with a focus on the least-reached people groups. With the new information, MANI hopes to encourage the African Church to initiate strategic ministries to the least-reached peoples in Africa”.
The Joshua Project listing of ethnic people groups (www.joshuaproject.net), was used as the basis to evaluate the information. Approved changes were made in conjunction with the country teams along with a team of international research experts. Oversight came from the DATA Team (Database Advisory Team for Africa), a team of regional facilitators and other experts.
Following is a summary of the accomplishments and challenges from the Continental and Regional perspectives.
EVALUATION – CONTINENTAL PERSPECTIVE
For Sub-Saharan Africa, MANI has tried to mobilize, motivate and move the Church into partnership for a country-by-country review process. It is not known that anyone else ever tried this for such a vast region! Early results carry the possibility of concluding that we were not successful in achieving stated goals. In some ways that may be true, but then one must keep in mind that this is a process and such an endeavour should not be approached as a mere event. Although not all goals were achieved by MANI 2011, significant progress was made, challenges identified, and lessons learned.
Many regions plan for continuation of this process, which will move the Church in Africa towards an authentic African database and serve the African and Global Church community in better understanding the African Harvest Field and Harvest Force. The purpose? That Africa would better be able to identify needs, strategize, pray and focus on the unfinished task.
Continental Highlights of Work Accomplished:
This challenging process included: mobilizing country teams, training, documenting sources, creating a review process, involvement and communications with numerous country and global experts (anthropologist, linguists, database managers, global list custodians), managing information, and data analysis.
It is noteworthy that every MANI Region of Sub-Saharan Africa had some participation; with 34 countries submitting recommended corrections to the Joshua Project lists. Data from the regions of the Horn and Indian Ocean Islands was especially extensive and well verified. Some CAP edits have already resulted in acceptance from global experts, and brought subsequent changes to highly respected Global lists.
A brief summary of CAP accomplishments:
- 34 countries were in some way involved in the Country Assessment Process.
- 660 People Groups in Sub-Saharan have had some piece of data reviewed and edits accepted by the Review Team.
- 13 new People Groups were added to the list of peoples.
- 67 People Groups were deleted.
- It is estimated there were about 1854 verified edits to the EIS database.
- Many other recommended edits await additional verification from the countries.
All data gathering for the CAP was done on a voluntarily basis, with no salaries being paid. Funds were gratefully received from one grant, but used only to assist with direct expenses.
MANI has developed, Ethne Information System (EIS) – a powerful and functional database with the ability to manage Harvest Field and Harvest Force data on country, regional and Continental levels.
Continental Process – General Observations
A noted concern was that some seemed slow to move because of lack of outside assistance. This raised the question of whether the Church is taking responsibility for its own programs and plans in the countries and in the Continent.
Areas with less work accomplished, were generally those with more challenges and struggles. Our teams faces issues of war, poverty, inaccessibility, religious persecution, illness, inconsistent communication methods, lack of adequate technology, etc. That there are some in those areas who still wish to proceed, is a tribute to the resilient character of Africans.
Joshua Project proved to be a reliable data source and helpful partner in the process.
Continental Process – Lessons Learned
The overall task is bigger, with even more challenges than anticipated. That understanding makes it even more essential to engage country leaders, so that country ownership, networking and partnership become a vital part of the process. Too many times, the task was left to individuals rather than the preferred teams.
The DATA Team recognizes a need to simplify the data gathering process, tools and instructions.
Most countries would benefit from a visit, as well as establish better two-way communication with the Regional DATA team facilitator, so that the team will know if further assistance is needed.
Starting late and extending deadlines, may help one side of the process, but results in strain and difficulties for the next piece of the process.
Continental Evaluation – The Way Forward
MANI 2011 is not the end of the Country Assessment Process, but perhaps is the first small step for Africa to populate its own database for its own purposes. Expectations for an ongoing CAP process includes the following:
Continue CAP data review, so as to accurately identify all Least-Reached People Groups of Africa. An emphases is needed on the demographic data collection.
Some data needs further validation or clarification before edits are accepted. Enhance and develop research and mapping teams in the regions and countries.
Continue developing the DATA (Database Advisory Team for Africa), whose role it is to review information, manage CAP, and other research processes.
Prioritize Francophone West and Central Africa for CAP processes.
Train in the use of the EIS database for data management on a country level.
Strengthen existing, and develop new Regional, Continental and Global relationships and partnerships to enhance the gathering and management of data for the Continent.