Professor Zenda Ofir is a South Africa scientist and independent international evaluation specialist, at present based near Geneva in Switzerland.
With a PhD in (Ecological) Chemistry, she served first as senior program manager at what is now the National Research Foundation (NRF), where she was responsible for six grant funding programmes aimed at strengthening research in 21 South African universities. At national level her portfolios included biotechnology, food production and food security, veterinary science, and rural and urban development. She was also the first national science council manager responsible for institutional research capacity strengthening in what was then South Africa’s ten ‘historically black universities’.
She later joined the University of Pretoria as Director Research responsible for all grant-funded and contract research, industry-university collaboration, intellectual property management and international relations.
In 2000, Zenda left the university to specialise in the evaluation of both development and scientific research; she also has extensive experience in knowledge management. She is a generalist who has worked from local to global level on the interface of science, development and evaluation. She has visited around 80 and conducted assignments in more than 40 countries – primarily in Africa and Asia – for bi- and multilateral organisations, government units, international NGOs, universities, science councils and philanthropic foundations. She has also advised international organisations such as UNDP, GAVI, CGIAR, AGRA, IFAD, CDI-IDS, CLEAR-AA and the Rockefeller Foundation’s evaluation office on evaluation policy, or strategy and methodology.
Zenda is at present Vice-President of the International Development Evaluation Association (IDEAS), Lead Steward of the Evaluation for Transformation (E4T) Working Group of the SDG Transformations Forum, and a member of the Steering Committee of the South to South Evaluation Initiative (S2SE). She is also a widely read blogger on Evaluation for Development, and serves on the editorial advisory boards of the African Evaluation Journal (AEJ) and Evaluation and Program Planning (EPP). In 2014 she was appointed as Honorary Professor at the School for Public Leadership at Stellenbosch University, a title that recognises eminence in a profession or practice outside the university.
Zenda is a former President of the African Evaluation Association (AfrEA), former Vice-President of the International Organisation for Cooperation in Evaluation (IOCE), former Board Member of the American Evaluation Association (AEA) and the founder of the South African Evaluation Network, the precursor of the South African M&E Association (SAMEA), of which she was also a founding member. She has been a visiting professor at the University of Hiroshima and a fellow at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS). From 2009 to 2011 she delivered the Aid Effectiveness module at the United Nations University (UNU) in Tokyo.
Between January and May 2019, Zenda will be a Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin.