Evaluation of development programmes

Evaluating multilateral effectiveness - work of the DAC Evaluation Network


A large portion of development assistance is channeled through multilateral institutions, including UN agencies and multilateral development banks (more on multilateral aid). These institutions have their own independent evaluation departments and management boards to ensure the quality of their work. Still, given that many bilateral donors fund these institutions, there is demand from many stakeholders for more information on the institutional performance and development effectiveness of multilaterals. 

To overcome this perceived information gap, a joint approach has been developed by the members of the DAC Evaluation Network. This joint approach combines reliance on and strengthening of existing evaluation systems, including through peer reviews (see below), institutional reviews by the Multilateral Organization Performance Assessment Network (MOPAN) and a new meta-evaluation/meta-synthesis approach (described below).  To help reduce the burden of multiple reviews, DAC members are encouraged to support joined-up approaches to assessing multilateral effectiveness, and to work through existing accountability mechanisms, including the independent evaluation bodies of the multilaterals (who meet in the Evaluation Co-operation Group)

Development effectiveness reviews

This approach to reviewing multilateral organisations was developed under the guidance of the DAC Network on Development Evaluation, with the leadership of Canada and pilot tested with the Asian Development Bank and the World Health Organization  in 2010.  Lessons from these reviews were used to revise the approach. At its June 2011 meeting, the Network agreed that Assessing the Development Effectiveness of Multilateral Organizations was a workable approach to assess the development effectiveness of multilateral organisations. Further review work is currently underway.

The reviews provide an independent and evidence-based assessment of the development effectiveness of the humanitarian and development programming. Reports are designed for use by the members of the OECD DAC and other interested stakeholders. These reviews complement the periodic assessments done by the MOPAN of the multilateral organisations’ operational effectiveness. The methodology will be used for further reviews of multilateral organisation effectiveness, based on their own evaluations.

 UNEG/DAC peer reviews of evaluation systems of United Nations organsations

The DAC Evaluation Network and the United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG) work together to review the evaluation functions of UN organisations. These peer reviews are conducted using a framework developed by a collaborative task team of the two groups. Organisations are reviewed on a voluntary basis - see reports below.

 A peer review of the evaluation functions of an organisation is not in itself an assessment of the effectiveness of that organisation. However, it can contribute to the basis for assessing the effectiveness of the organisation, by testing the capacity and quality of the organisation’s own evaluations of effectiveness, and thus the confidence that can be placed in them. The approach builds greater knowledge, confidence and use of evaluation systems by management, governing bodies and others - providing a suitable way of “evaluating the evaluators”, sharing good practice, experience and mutual learning.

UNEG/DAC Peer Reviews of United Nations evaluation systems - Reports

  Peer Review of the Evaluation Function of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

(July 2012)

The review focused on the systems and approaches for identifying, implementing, and using evaluations to the Governing Bodies; and the country evaluations and project evaluations were not examined in great detail. The review found that FAO should move to more strategic use of evaluations to the Governing Bodies, requiring evaluations to address strategic issues, focusing recommendations on
strategic decisions, and broadening the evaluative base through a more consistent
evaluation practice.

Peer Review of the Evaluation Function of UN-Habitat

(March 2012)


The Review found that, generally, evaluations conducted were balanced, producing reports of good quality and that the evaluations carried out had been found to be useful. However, there is presently no Evaluation Policy in place and no clear definition of roles and responsibilities for planning, managing and conducting evaluations.

Peer Review of the Evaluation Function of the United Nations Environment Programme (March 2012)


While human resources seem insufficient to deal with the high demand for its services and to carry out mandatory project as well as strategic evaluations, the peer review panel recognized the efforts made in the last few years to strengthen the Evaluation office.

Peer Review of the Evaluation Function of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization
(UNIDO) - March 2010

“This approach has several purposes: building greater knowledge, confidence and use of evaluation systems by management, governing bodies and others; providing a suitable way of ‘evaluating the evaluators’; sharing good practice, experience and mutual learning.”


Peer Review of the Evaluation function of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) - 2009

The Peer Review examined the GEF evaluation function on three core criteria: independence of the GEF-EO and of its evaluation processes, credibility and utility of its evaluations. 

GEF Management Response to the UNEG-DAC Peer Review

Peer Review of the Evaluation Function of the Office of Internal Oversight Services of the United Nations (OIOS) - 2009

This report is the result of the fifth professional peer review of the evaluation function at a multilateral organization. It was carried out at the request of OIOS to the DAC Network on Evaluation. The aim of this review is to stimulate constructive peer exchange about possible improvements in the evaluation function.

Peer Review of the Evaluation Function at the World Food Programme (WFP)

This report is the result of the third professional peer review of the evaluation function at a multilateral organisation. It was carried out at the request by WFP to the DAC Network on Evaluation and the UN Evaluation Group (UNEG).

Peer Review of the Evaluation Function at United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) -


The OECD/DAC Network on Development Evaluation designed a process of peer review of the evaluation function of multilateral organizations as an alternative to costly institutional evaluations conducted by donors. UNICEF was the second pilot following a first test with UNDP.

Peer Review of the UNDP Evaluation Office


Who evaluates the evaluator? Occasionally the independence, credibility and utility of evaluation are challenged both by those being evaluated and by the users of evaluation, who may often be the same.

Framework for Professional Peer Reviews

This framework was developed by a collaborative task team of UNEG and the Evaluation Network.



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