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Evaluation of Swedish development cooperation

Evaluation is a tool for learning

Sida defines evaluation as a systematic and objective approach of determining the merit, worth or value of something. It plays a central role in results-based management and organisational learning at Sida. It provides an understanding of how and why certain results were – or were not – achieved, and if they were relevant and sustainable.

Evaluation differs from monitoring activities where evaluation is occasional in timing, focus on longer term outcomes and impact and has the possibility of analysing and valuing the results from a variety of information sources.

Contributes to decision making and transparency

Evaluations at Sida can contribute to:

  • Well-informed decision making in projects, programmes and cooperation strategies.
  • Learning at Sida and other development actors about what works for whom, under what circumstances and how. Results that contributes to the development of the different development contributions, strategies and the organisation itself
  • Accountability by providing transparency in Swedish development cooperation.

Evaluations are adapted to the needs of the users

Sida separates between four categories of evaluations;

  • partner led evaluations of projects and programmes, which are commissioned and managed by Sida's cooperation partners;
  • decentralised evaluations of projects and programmes, which are commissioned and managed by Sida HQ or Embassy
  • central (strategic) evaluations of an overall strategic importance, which could either be commissioned and managed centrally by UTV or be decentralised and commissioned and managed by relevant Sida HQ department/unit or Embassy.
  • internal reviews

Sida's approach to evaluation is utilisation focused. The evaluation process shall be designed, conducted and reported to meet the needs of the intended users. Sida regards the evaluation process itself as an opportunity for learning among those participating in an evaluation. 

Principles for evaluation are developed by OECD/DAC

Sida financed evaluations shall build on the principles and criteria which have been developed by the OECD/DAC's Evaluation Network (EvalNet).

For development interventions, the following criteria should be considered, and the ones that best fit the purpose of the evaluation picked:

  • Relevance: Is the intervention doing the right things?
  • Coherence: How well does the intervention fit?
  • Effectiveness: Is the intervention achieving its objectives?
  • Efficiency: How well are resources being used?
  • Impact: What difference does the intervention make?
  • Sustainability: Will the benefits last?

Sida's Evaluation Handbook

The Evaluation Handbook includes Sida’s approach to and principles and criteria for evaluation, and a step-by-step guide on how Sida plans, prepares for and commissions evaluations.

Responsibility for evaluation rests with the development partner

The responsibility for evaluation of Sida funded programmes rests primarily with the development partner. Sida may commission an external evaluation for accountability purposes, to meet learning needs, or due to limited capacity by the partner.

It is not mandatory to evaluate every intervention – the goal is to have the right things evaluated at the right time and in the right way.

Sida's evaluation unit coordinates evaluation at Sida.The strategic evaluation plan gives insight on central evaluations.

Other stakeholders are engaged in evaluation

The two main government actors engaged in evaluation of Swedish development cooperation are Sida and the Expert Group for Aid Studies (EBA). The Agency for Public Management, Statskontoret, may at the request of the Swedish Government also carry out studies and evaluations of Swedish development cooperation.

Sida engages in various expert fora for development evaluation, such as EvalNet, OECD/DAC’s network for evaluation.

Evaluation briefs 

Evaluation briefs provide a brief summary of evaluations commissioned by Sida, including content and conclusions. Please visit the publication database to download the full evaluation reports.

Updated: 23 December 2020