The Evaluation and Knowledge Development Unit (RCH/EVA) is responsible for conducting evaluations in line with these objectives, and in particular for: (i) defining evaluation methods and the quality assurance process for evaluations conducted on completion of AFD financing; (ii) producing impact analyses of some of the projects, programmes and policies that AFD supports; (iii) managing overall or strategic evaluations; (iv) carrying out meta-evaluations and developing a knowledge base on specific topics.
The evaluation process at AFD has two main objectives, in accordance with the guidelines set by the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) :
- to draw lessons from the past in order to improve future aid policies, programmes and projects;
- to serve as the basis for accountability, including with respect to the public.
The Network of Networks for Impact Evaluation (NONIE) was established in 2006 to promote quality impact evaluation and foster a program of impact evaluation activities based on a common understanding of the meaning of impact evaluation and approaches to conducting impact evaluation.
NONIE meets annually with responsibility for organizing the meeting rotating among the member Networks. The NONIE 2012 meeting is being organized by the United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG) and will be held at the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Headquarters, Rome, Italy from 19-20 April 2012.
The four themes identified for discussion at the NONIE 2012 meeting are:
- Mixed methods/ alternative design approaches/ methods for addressing the challenge of attribution;
- Policy use/ how IE influences policy;
- The role of IE in M&E systems; and
- Guidance on and experiences of IE on normative and institutional support work.
The NONIE 2012 meeting is open to NONIE members, as well as interested evaluators and researchers, contingent upon the availability of space.
To register as a participant, please go to Online registration. The deadline for registration is 6th April. For security reasons, registration after this date will not be possible.
"ODA is probably evaluated more than any other public policy, but questions are still being raised on its effectiveness"
Just before the opening of the major conference organised by the European Development Network (EUDN) and the AFD, Laurent Fontaine, Head of Evaluations at the AFD, outlines the issues arising in ODA evaluation today. Interview.
Why is this AFD – EUDN conference entitled “Evaluation and its Discontents”? What is the discontent we are talking about?
It’s slightly provocative of course – it picks up on the French title of Freud’s “Civilisation and its Discontents” - but apart from that, the intention is indeed to discuss some very topical issues: Official Development Assistance (ODA) is probably evaluated more than any other public policy, but questions are still being raised about its effectiveness; references to “strengthening evaluation” are continual, and no external AFD audit ever omits the phrase.
But to what extent is evaluation central, how far can it be central, to an organised process of management by results?
The experimental approach to evaluation that has been popular for some years now has at least brought the question of the “right” evaluation methods back on the agenda, including in the national dailies. So discussing “discontent” seems entirely justified.
What are the issues that arise in evaluations of development assistance?
Evaluators today are caught between increasing demand for evaluation (accountability, transparency, rationalisation, etc.) and increasingly tight budgets for both ODA and ODA evaluation.
They have to rapidly find convincing results in terms of development to justify the financing allocated to aid budgets while applying highly complex methods to evaluate each project and each strategy in the most pertinent way possible.
The creation of new institutions in the OECD countries, like the Independent Commission for Aid Impact in the UK, which tries to measure the “value for money” of the UK’s ODA, clearly shows how important effective evaluation has become for the evaluator community.
What are the inherent tensions in an evaluation mission?
The main issue where development assistance is concerned is to find a satisfactory way of managing certain tensions. Most fundamentally, the evaluator’s independence has to be compatible with the need for collaboration from the stakeholders in aid projects and policies.
Also, to be useful, an evaluation not only has to be scientifically rigorous, but also has to deliver its results at the right time, which is the time for the project to be readjusted, redirected, renewed – or not – or reproduced.
Finally, expectations have to be met, both from the donor agencies, which are highly focused on evaluation results, and from the project partners who usually take an interest in the process of evaluation as well as its results. At the AFD, we deal with these questions constantly when we evaluate an operation or a strategy.
Michael Patton, who was the first “independent auditor” of the Paris Declaration* evaluation – a highly ambitious evaluation exercise – summed it all up in a little cartoon that shows an evaluator wobbling as he walks a tight-rope between “accountability” and “learning”, “rigour” and “usefulness”, “independence” and “involvement”, etc. That really sums up the challenge: not to fall off…
* Paris Declaration: the main aim of the Paris Declaration (2005) is to reform the way in which aid is delivered and managed in order to increase its effectiveness, especially as regards reducing poverty and inequality, consolidating growth, building up capacities and making progress towards the MDGs.
AFD-EUDN 2012 Conference: Evaluation and its discontents, do we learn from experience in development? March 26th 2012, Paris
Our societies’ demand for the evaluation of economic policies has been evolving alongside a growing desire for transparency and accountability of decision-makers . This is within a context where persistent doubts exist regarding the efficiency of public spending. In the development sector, this is particularly apparent as development assistance has been heavily criticized due to its limited efficiency. The increasing budget constraints faced by many donors have also exacerbated the complexity of the task.
Nevertheless, the issue of evaluating public policies is neither a new idea, nor a novel practice. It becomes increasingly essential, however, to determine whether the evaluation task is properly conducted. We need to discuss whether the way evaluations are undertaken produces an accumulation of knowledge that is accessible to decision makers, or whether the context in which development policies are implemented severely reduces the usefulness of past experiences for designing future projects.
Can we learn from our own and others’ experiences in the field of development? If so, how can evaluation contribute and how is it that we seem unable to translate these experiences into practice? If not, what are the factors hampering the learning process?
Conference Center Pierre Mendès-France Ministère de l’Economie, des Finances et de l’Industrie , Paris
Evaluation à mi-parcours du plan décennal de développement du secteur de l'éducation du Bénin (PDDSE 2006-2015)
Executive Summary available in English (pp. 31 - 53)
The second phase of Benin's 'Ten-Year Education Sector Development Plan'(Plan Décennal de Développement du Secteur de l’Éducation, PDDSE) covering the period 2006-2015 is about to be completed. Before entering the third and last phase, a midterm evaluation has been undertaken, initiated by the governments of Denmark, France and Benin (represented through the ‘Observatoire du Changement Social’).
The overall objective of the evaluation is to assess to what extent the objectives and assumptions that underlie the education plan remain relevant in light of the current situation, to assess the results achieved over the past five years, and to identify lessons learned. The evaluation is structured around three main themes: (i) assessment of the policies and strategies undertaken as well as the results obtained, (ii) management, coordination and sector dialogue, and (iii) sector financing.
The evaluation covers all six levels of the education sector in Benin: preschool, primary, secondary, technical education and vocational training, higher education and scientific research, as well as literacy and adult education.
This year, as part of the year of the French Overseas Communities, this conference organized by AFD, a historical partner for the development of these communities, follows on from its two previous ones in 2007 and 2009 on the economies of the French Overseas Communities. The first was on the topic “Should France’s overseas economies open up to support growth?” and the second on the topic “A green Overseas France!”.
While the General Assembly of the French Overseas Communities highlighted the need to promote a more endogenous development of these island economies and, at the same time foster a more effective integration into their regional environment, in what conditions can this development take place?
Starting from the premise that there can be no sustainable economic development without efficient companies and effective human resources, the first part of the conference will make a review of both the vocational integration of youth in these communities, and of business strategies in these communities for adaptation to their environment.
Espace du Centenaire
(Auditorium, Maison de la RATP)
189, rue de Bercy 75012 Paris