Posted by: norapillard | July 29, 2010

How Research Informs Our Work: Debates about criteria for evaluation of development interventions

As described in the previous blog post [How do we evaluate what we do and how we do it?], the generally accepted evaluation criteria are: relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact, and sustainability.  Thomaz Chianca gathered a group of 10 professional evaluators with experience in international development to discuss possible improvements to the above criteria.  In his article, he articulates some questions for reflection:

(1)   When evaluating relevance and effectiveness we generally use the goals and priorities decided upon by donors, governments or nonprofits.  Does this focus need to shift more to meeting the needs of the targeted population instead of just achieving the project objectives?

  • “A good evaluator should never take for granted that the program goals adequately reflect the needs of the target population” (46).

(2)   The criterion related to sustainability clearly includes ideas related to the economic and environmental aspects of a program.  How can this criterion also incorporate political support, socio-cultural adequacy, technological appropriateness and institutional capacity?

  • “This is especially relevant to programs that require direct participation of program recipients to achieve success- e.g., in a water and sanitation intervention” (47).

(3)   Should the five criteria have different weights in an overall evaluation?  Should we incorporate bars- minimum acceptable level of performance on a criterion below which an intervention will be considered fully unacceptable regardless of its performance on other evaluation criteria?

These questions are all important considerations in the way that we evaluate our impact in Waslala.

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