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 ). 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 Evaluation Function of the UN World Food Programme

Peer Review Evaluation Function of the UN World Food Programme 2008-2013  -  Annexes

October 2014

The independent Peer Review of WFP's evaluation function was conducted to assess the independence, credibility and utility of WFP's evaluation function. In view of the many changes in WFP's internal and external context, in addition to reviewing progress since the 2007 review it assessed the quality, use and follow up to evaluations across WFP for accountability, learning and improvement. The final report sets out strategic choices facing WFP for its central and decentralized evaluation function and makes a number of recommendations to management, OEV and the board - the response to which will set the strategic direction for evaluation in WFP for the coming years.

 Report of the Second Professional Peer Review of the GEF Evaluation Function

Second Professional Peer Review of the GEF Evaluation Function

October 2014

The panel was impressed by what the Independent Evaluation Offic has achieved. The panel identified a number of areas that may require attention in order to harvest the full potential of the evaluation function. It found that the Independent Evaluation Office efforts to ensure the accountability function of evaluation were more successful than efforts to ensure the learning dimension. As such, the panel agrees with the Independent Evaluation Office self-assessment prepared for this review, which identified learning as the challenge for the future.

 Professional Peer Review of the Evaluation Function of UN Women

Professional Peer Review of the Evaluation Function of UN Women

September 2014

This peer review report presents the panel's observations and conclusions as well as its recommendations to the Independent Evaluation Office, the management and the executive board of UN Women with a view to strengthening the evaluation function of UN Women. It focuses on communicating in succinct fashion what the panel considers to be the key overall results of its deliberations, as well its advice for further improving evaluation in UN Women.

 Lessons Learned Study of Peer Reviews of UNEG Evaluation Functions

Lessons Learned Study of Peer Reviews of UNEG Evaluation Functions

May 2013

This report presents the findings, analysis, conclusions and recommendations of the study of peer reviews of UN evaluation functions, which was conducted from mid­-January to end of March 2013. A preface from Chairs of UNEG and DAC Evalnet is also included.

 Peer review of UNDP's Evaluation Office on methodology and knowledge sharing

Peer review of UNDP's Evaluation Office on Methodology and Knowledge Sharing

January 2013

The panel found that the Evaluation Office is professional and strong and has a high degree of independence. There are many good skills in the team and there is an excellent engagement with management and the board. From this strong position the Office has opportunities to further strengthen its strategic role in UNDP.


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.

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.




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.




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.”





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. 





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.



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 of 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.



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.


UNEG Framework for Professional Peer Reviews of the Evaluation Function of UN organizations

This framework builds on the  developed by the collaborative task team of UNEG and the Evaluation Network (2007).



Other resources:

  • , Power Point presented by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) on behalf of the Task Team on Multilateral Effectiveness.
  • The Comprehensive Evaluation Platform for Knowledge Exchange (CEPKE) is an informal platform for evaluation practitioners and other professionals with an interest in comprehensive evaluations for assessments of institutions, funds and global programs.


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