Evaluation of development programmes

DAC Criteria for Evaluating Development Assistance

 

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The DAC Network on Development Evaluation is currently exploring how the DAC Evaluation Criteria can be adapted to the new development landscape and the 2030 Agenda. The criteria are widely used in evaluations of development programmes far beyond the membership of the DAC. There will be a broad process of consultations with members and stakeholders in line with partnership principles.
During the consultation process in 2018, updates will be provided on a continuous basis, inlcluding in forthcoming newsletters. Subscribe to our forthcoming newsletters.

The criteria

When evaluating programmes and projects it is useful to consider the following criteria. The criteria were first laid out in the DAC Principles for Evaluation of Development Assistance and later defined in the Glossary of Key Terms in Evaluation and Results Based Management. The following further explains the criteria and provides some sample questions to illustrate how they may be used in practice:

Relevance

The extent to which the aid activity is suited to the priorities and policies of the target group, recipient and donor.


In evaluating the relevance of a programme or a project, it is useful to consider the following questions:

  • To what extent are the objectives of the programme still valid?
  • Are the activities and outputs of the programme consistent with the overall goal and the attainment of its objectives?
  • Are the activities and outputs of the programme consistent with the intended impacts and effects?

Effectiveness

A measure of the extent to which an aid activity attains its objectives.


In evaluating the effectiveness of a programme or a project, it is useful to consider the following questions:

  • To what extent were the objectives achieved / are likely to be achieved?
  • What were the major factors influencing the achievement or non-achievement of the objectives?

Efficiency

Efficiency measures the outputs -- qualitative and quantitative -- in relation to the inputs. It is an economic term which signifies that the aid uses the least costly resources possible in order to achieve the desired results. This generally requires comparing alternative approaches to achieving the same outputs, to see whether the most efficient process has been adopted.


When evaluating the efficiency of a programme or a project, it is useful to consider the following questions:

  • Were activities cost-efficient?
  • Were objectives achieved on time?
  • Was the programme or project implemented in the most efficient way compared to alternatives?

Impact

The positive and negative changes produced by a development intervention, directly or indirectly, intended or unintended. This involves the main impacts and effects resulting from the activity on the local social, economic, environmental and other development indicators. The examination should be concerned with both intended and unintended results and must also include the positive and negative impact of external factors, such as changes in terms of trade and financial conditions.


When evaluating the impact of a programme or a project, it is useful to consider the following questions:

  • What has happened as a result of the programme or project?
  • What real difference has the activity made to the beneficiaries?
  • How many people have been affected?

Sustainability

Sustainability is concerned with measuring whether the benefits of an activity are likely to continue after donor funding has been withdrawn. Projects need to be environmentally as well as financially sustainable.


When evaluating the sustainability of a programme or a project, it is useful to consider the following questions:

  • To what extent did the benefits of a programme or project continue after donor funding ceased?
  • What were the major factors which influenced the achievement or non-achievement of sustainability of the programme or project?

Sources: The DAC Principles for the Evaluation of Development Assistance, OECD (1991), Glossary of Terms Used in Evaluation, in 'Methods and Procedures in Aid Evaluation', OECD (1986), and the Glossary of Evaluation and Results Based Management (RBM) Terms, OECD (2000).