How can evaluations provide strong evidence and lessons about what works and why in complex conflict settings? This publication provides step-by-step guidance on evaluation, as well as some basic principles on good programme design and management.
The guidance is to be used for assessing activities in settings of violent conflict or state fragility, such as peacebuilding and conflict prevention work and development and humanitarian activities that may or may not have specific peace-related objectives. The central principles and concepts, including conflict sensitivity and the importance of understanding and testing underlying theories about what is being done and why, are applicable to a range of actors.
A clear analysis of the causes, drivers and dynamics of conflict and fragility sets the analytical framework for evaluation, and should also be used to ensure conflict sensitivity. However, conflict sensitivity needs to be evaluated alongside effectiveness and other criteria.
Evaluators examine relevance, sustainability, effectiveness, efficiency and impact of activities in relation to the specific conflict context in order to answer the main evaluation questions. The guidance describes how these criteria might be adjusted. Data availability and other challenges may affect analysis, particularly when assessing impact.
The last phase of an evaluation is to draw the conclusions and feed the findings into relevant planning, management, learning, research, or accountability processes. Dissemination strategies should be tailored to the target audiences, reaching them with timely, relevant information backed up by sound evidence. Actionable recommendations based on the conclusions should be presented as opportunities for learning, and commissioning institutions should ensure systematic response to the findings.
The guidance urges donors and partners to:
- Base their work on a clear understanding of the conflict context, its key drivers, political economy, dynamics and actors, and a deep analysis of how their own activities will interact with and impact (directly or indirectly) on peacebuilding and statebuilding processes.
- Use critical analysis to generate more credible information about the effectiveness and results of their peacebuilding strategies and programmes.
- Question the underlying assumptions of their work and strengthen the evidence-base for peacebuilding support by testing their theories about how change happens.
- Be responsive to and sensitive of the conflict when designing, implementing or evaluating programmes – to avoid making things worse.
The OECD-DAC has partnered with Search for Common Ground’s Learning Portal for Design, Monitoring & Evaluation (DM&E) for Peacebuilding to create a dedicated online space for discussion on the various issues raised in the Guidance. Join the conversation at dmeforpeace.org.