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Evaluation in International Development

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Practice Advice on International Development Policy

Evaluation in International Development (UNDP)

Summary Advice: The ultimate goal of an evaluation is to improve public action in order to contribute to people’s wellbeing. The UNDP provides the following advice to help ensure evaluation is credible, rigorous, and adaptable to local processes and culture and part of the democratic space within countries.

Main Points: Public action is seen in its broadest sense as the agency of people combined with the actions of the state and its partners. Learning and accountability, which are so often seen as the underpinning of evaluation, are the channels by which the process and results of evaluation temper and galvanize public action.

Investment in technical rigour is an intrinsic and necessary part of evaluation capacity. But, according to the UNDP, it is not sufficient. If national ownership is to imbue evaluation practice, national vision and aspirations must be captured through evaluation criteria, questions, methods and approach. National evaluation capacity needs to be able to generate appropriate criteria and methods and use them to answer meaningful questions. Given that evaluation is an intrinsic part of governance, the legitimizing context is important for developing an adaptable, credible and rigorous evaluation. Thus, national ownership would require that:

  • Development partners join in the evaluation project of the country;
  • The evaluation project be intrinsically linked to the national vision and to national accountability, or the state’s accountability to its citizens;
  • The evaluation process be an integral part of strong democratic governance processes;
  • The evaluation method and process be complex and sensitive enough to capture a range of influences on public policy; and
  • The results of the process be meaningful and can effect change in public action.

Finally, development agencies need to support local evaluations by helping to ensure that:

  • The evaluation is linked to the growing body of rights and obligations that have been framed within the United Nations;
  • The evaluation process requires evaluators to go beyond government led evaluation to building an effective national evaluation system that embraces and is responsive to the full range of actors, including parliaments, academia, civil society, the media, evaluation associations and governments; and
  • Assistance includes the integration of the agencies’ normative, technical and governance knowledge into the country’s national evaluation to help promote a people-centred evaluation, one that catalyzes public action for human development.  

Source: UNDP, "Developing National Capacities for Country Monitoring and Evaluation Systems", at: (accessed 1 December 2012).

Page Created By: Ruby Dagher on 4 January 2013. Updated by Ian Clark on 23 January 2013. The content presented on this page is drawn directly from the source(s) cited above, and consists of direct quotations or close paraphrases. This material does not necessarily reflect the official view of the publishing organization.


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