Key Elements of the Evaluation Principles


  • Aid agencies should have an evaluation policy with a clear definition of the role of the evaluation unit, its responsibilities and its place in the institutional aid structure (Para.4 and 7).
  • The evaluation process should be impartial and independent from the process concerned with policy-making, and the delivery and management of development assistance (Para. 11-16).

Impartiality and independence will best be achieved by separating the evaluation function from the line management responsible for planning and managing development assistance. This could be accomplished by having a central unit responsible for evaluation reporting directly to the minister or the agency head responsible for development assistance, or to a board of directors or governors of the institution. To the extent that some evaluation functions are attached to line management they should report to a central unit or to a sufficiently high level of the management structure or to a management committee responsible for programme decisions. In this case, every effort should be made to avoid compromising the evaluation process and its results (Para.16).

  • Aid agencies should elaborate guidelines and/or standards for the evaluation process. These should give guidance and define the minimum requirements for the conduct of evaluations and for reporting (Para.31).
  • An overall plan must be developed by the agency for the evaluation of development assistance activities. In elaborating such a plan, the various activities to be evaluated should be organised into appropriate categories. Priorities should then be set for the evaluation of the categories and a timetable drawn up (Para.27).
  • Transparency of the evaluation process is crucial to its credibility and legitimacy. The evaluation process must be as open as possible with the results made widely available(Para.20).
  • Feedback to both policy-makers, operational staff and the general public is essential (Para. 39-43).

To ensure that the results of evaluations are utilised in future policy and programme development it is necessary to establish feedback mechanisms involving all parties concerned. These would include such measures as evaluation committees, seminars and workshops, automated systems, reporting and follow-up procedures. Informal means such as networking and internal communications would also allow for the dissemination of ideas and information. In order to be effective, the feedback process requires staff and budget resources as well as support by senior management and the other actors involved (Para.42). Evaluation reporting should be clear, as free as possible of technical language and include the following elements: an executive summary; a profile of the activity evaluated; a description of the evaluation methods used; the main findings; lessons learned; conclusions and recommendations (which may be separate from the report itself) (Para.39).

  • Systematic dissemination is essential for ensuring improved planning and implementation of development assistance activities. Evaluation results may be disseminated in several ways apart from the evaluation report itself e.g., annual reports providing a synthesis of findings; abstracts/summaries providing a synopsis of findings (Para.41).
  • Partnership with recipients and donors in aid evaluation is essential; they are an important aspect of recipient capacity-building and of aid co-ordination and can reduce administrative burdens on partners (Para.23-26).

Whenever possible, both donors and recipients should be involved in the evaluation process. Since evaluation findings are relevant to both parties, evaluation terms of reference should address issues of concern to each partner, and the evaluation should reflect their views of the effectiveness and impact of the activities concerned. Participation and impartiality enhance the quality of evaluation, which in turn has significant implications for long-term sustainability since recipients are solely responsible after the donor has left (Para.23).

Collaboration between donors is essential in order to learn from each other and to avoid duplication of effort. Donor collaboration should be encouraged in order to develop evaluation methods, share reports and information, and improve access to evaluation findings. Joint donor evaluations should be promoted in order to improve understanding of each others’ procedures and approaches and to reduce the administrative burden on the recipient. In order to facilitate the planning of joint evaluations, donors should exchange evaluation plans systematically and well ahead of actual implementation (Para.26).

NOTE: In the Principles For Evaluation of Development Assistance you will also find definitions, purpose of evaluations, and guidance on design and implementation of individual evaluations.



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