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Assessing the Uptake of Strategic Evaluations in EU Development Cooperation

Study on the Uptake of Learning from EuropeAid's Strategic Evaluations into Development Policy and Practice

26-08-2014

Bossuyt, J., Shaxson, L., Datta, A. 2014. Assessing the uptake of strategic evaluations in EU development cooperation: Study on the uptake of learning from EuropeAid's strategic evaluations into development policy and practice. Brussels: EuropeAid.

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Key Highlights 

  • Much of the evidence generated by ‘strategic evaluations’ has not been effectively used as a result of a lack of ownership by those involved. Costly evaluations went unnoticed because EU staff were either unaware of existing evaluations, did not read the reports or felt it is not part of their work
  • With insufficient capacity and leadership, the opportunity presented by evaluations – seeing the bigger picture of how to better deal with today’s global problems – are more often missed opportunities
  • With growing pressure to show ‘value for money’, the EU institutions have been compelled to strengthen its evidence-based policy-making across the EU. Using knowledge from evaluations is challenging but not a single organisation examined in this report, despite previous evaluations, could be said to have reached the ‘golden standard

Background

Every year, EuropeAid produces 10 to 12 ‘strategic evaluations’ dealing with countries, regions, themes or aid modalities. As their name suggests, they adopt a broader perspective than project and programme evaluations, which are of a more operational nature. Strategic evaluations are interested in the overall relevance and coherence of EU interventions. They have a dual objective to provide accountability and promote learning. Most importantly, they seek to generate knowledge to help decision-makers to improve development policy, programming and practice.

But to what extent is this knowledge effectively used in EU development cooperation? Are the necessary conditions, systems, processes and incentives in place to ensure the ‘uptake’ of strategic evaluations? Or do these labour-intensive and relatively costly reports remain under- utilised?

In order to address these questions, EuropeAid commissioned an ‘uptake study’ with two very clear objectives: (i) to collect evidence of the translation of knowledge from strategic evaluations into EU development policy and practice, and on that basis (ii) to make recommendations for strengthening uptake in EuropeAid and the wider EU external action system. 

Key Findings

  • EuropeAid should promote and incentivise a learning and evaluation culture
  • They should review the evaluation process so as to enhance ownership and uptake
  • There needs to be better exploitation of formal and informal processes for uptake 
  • They need to strengthen the focus on outcomes in both evaluations and the management response system 

Read the study here

Download (PDF, 5.97MB)

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Cross-cutting TopicsEuropean external affairsEU Inter-Institutional Relations in External ActionContributing DocumentEvaluationsEuropean Commission (EC)European External Action Service (EEAS)

External authors

Louise Shaxson (ODI)

Ajoy Datta (ODI)