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Strategic Evaluations in 2014: A Quick Overview

The Evaluation Unit of DEVCO steers the Evaluation function for EU cooperation services and manages strategic evaluations. These strategic evaluations are complex evaluations conducted at country, region or sector level. In 2014, the Evaluation Unit finalised and published 10 evaluations: a regional evaluation of EU support to Asia, six country evaluations for Haiti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Togo, Cameroon, Kenya and Palestine, two budget support evaluations for Morocco and Mozambique and a joint evaluation of the EU and Member States cooperation with Burundi.

Public seminars are systematically organised in Brussels and in the respective countries to share the results of these evaluations. They allow discussions and debates on future co-operation.

As to the follow-up on recommendations, "fiches contradictoires" summarising the management response to the recommendations of each evaluation are systematically completed with the relevant Commission and EEAS services firstly on the publication of the evaluation report and secondly, one year after in order to monitor the progress made.

You can find the full reports of these evaluations, alongside many more, in EuropeAid's library.

Below a short summary of the main findings of each of these recent evaluations is provided. 

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EU regional co-operation with Asia (2007-2012)

The EU regional cooperation with Asia has been highly relevant to the needs of Asian partner countries through the vast majority of its individual programmes and projects.

The evaluation underlines that Asian partners governments should be encouraged to accept financial burden-sharing for regional-level interventions that are in their own strategic or economic interest.

However, the EU failed to develop an overall coherent regional approach. Development cooperation and interregional policy dialogues, as the two main strategic approaches towards Asia, have mutually reinforced each other and increased the EU’s leverage on key agendas. They have addressed core development needs achieving different degrees of performance: environment (high), health (medium), higher education (low). Most interventions under the Regional Strategy Paper (RSP) are characterised by a high level of national and regional ownership and this has contributed to the effectiveness of implementation. 
Coordination between regional-level and bilateral interventions has substantially increased and the RSP is coherent with the EU’s external policies, DCI-thematic programmes and other financing instruments.

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EU co-operation with Palestine (2008-2013)

EU has achieved a great deal - sustaining welfare for Palestinians by preventing fiscal and economic collapse, compensating for occupation losses, fostering stability and preserving functioning Palestinian Authority institutions.
Nevertheless, notwithstanding ardent policy declarations, the massive financial support and the policy dialogue, the EU lacked coherent and effective actions aimed at removing obstacles to Palestinian statehood and development. The main difficulties encountered were i) the multiple and complex occupation and settlement-related restrictions imposed by Israel on movement and access to resources, and (ii) the continued absence of Palestinian reconciliation and national elections. The EU has not successfully exercised leadership for strategic triangulation of a results-based dialogue with Israel and the Palestinians.

Delivery capacities have been constrained by a fragmented approach. EU co-operation with Palestine is “instrument and mechanism oriented”, lacking a comprehensive strategy linked to overarching EU goals.

The current cooperation design and its implementation modalities have reached their probable limits in terms of the EU’s political objectives. If continued in present form, the cooperation is unsustainable and counterproductive to EU norms for good governance.

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Evaluation of the European Union’s Co-operation with Kenya (2006-2012)

The EU strategy has been relevant in focusing on transport and rural development and responsive to the changing context when reallocating planned budget support to other sectors following the 2008 post-election violence.

The attention of the EU is too focused on financial issues, rather than on achieving the development objectives. The EU should develop comprehensive, results-oriented sector strategies with intervention logics and targets.

Nevertheless, the overall effectiveness of the EU aid has been relatively modest due to limited ownership by the Government of Kenya, difficult policy dialogue and slow progress in reforms. If some results have been achieved in improving agricultural practices and access to social infrastructure, the attention of the EU was too narrowly focused on financial issues and outputs, rather than on achieving the development objectives. The evaluation recommends to the EU to pay more attention to the political and policy dialogue with the Government of Kenya and develop comprehensive, results-oriented sector strategies.

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Evaluation of the European Union’s Co-operation with Cameroon (2007-2012)

EU support to Cameroon has been aligned with Country’s priorities but lacked a thorough ex-ante political economic analysis and changes in strategic orientations were required. The results are rather modest despite the EU leadership in the government-partners dialogue. In every sector, the EU has successfully taken into account absorption capacity, but its approach has not been always conducive to broad inclusive consultation with all the key actors. Activities have remained substitution activities in some sectors; others have focused on capacity building but not been sufficiently assimilated to ensure sustainable results.  Deeply ingrained governance problems persist.

The EU should pursue a comprehensive approach to capacity building, taking into consideration the different intertwined dimensions of leadership and power distribution, civil service culture and relevant context analysis.

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Joint evaluation of the cooperation with Burundi by Belgium, the European Commission, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom (2005-2011)

The EU should pursue a comprehensive approach to capacity building, taking into consideration the different intertwined dimensions of leadership and power distribution, civil service culture and relevant context analysis.

The evaluation concerns the impact on peace-building and development in Burundi of the cooperation of the EU and its Member States between 2005 and 2011. Aid has generally been well delivered during the period providing some important direct results (in defense and security forces, for families targeted by agricultural projects). However insufficient consideration of the available analyses of the situation in the country and interventions not part of sector strategies have prevented the achievement of the societal changes expected in term of stability, institutional building and growth.
The assumption of shared objectives between donors and Burundian Government which underlies the process of cooperation is not realistic, especially in governance, media and civil society issues. The recommendations highlight the need to have continuous strong political and policies analysis shared among donors and to adjust the assistance in the light of reality.

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Evaluation of the European Union’s co-operation with Haiti (2008-2012)

EU co-operation with Haiti was equal to the context of fragility of the country and sufficiently flexible to cope with a series of external shocks, including the 2010 earthquake. EU interventions have kept sight of the shorter and longer term approaches, addressing core development problems and recurrent emergencies.

The evaluation considers that the use of budget support support within such a fragile context was courageous and innovative. It has been appropriate and brought results. Political and policy dialogue shall be reinforced through the new “State building Contract”.

Fragility has been addressed in coherence with OECD reviews (2009 and 2011) on the application of the fragility principles. Results and sustainability of our co-operation have been suffering from a weak institutional context. For the future the EU should have at the core of its strategy the strengthening of the State and the improvement of sectoral strategies; the EU should seek a comprehensive approach to central and decentralised levels and seek effective articulation of available instruments. The use of budget support within such a fragile context was courageous and innovative; the macroeconomic effects have been relevant and helped the State surviving. Budget support was appropriate, but political and policy dialogue shall be reinforced through the new “State building Contract”.

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Evaluation of the EU’s co-operation with the Democratic Republic of Congo (2008-2013)

In a context of fragility, EU-DRC cooperation brought some valuable results which need to be consolidated. The strategy was in line with the orientations of the Congolese development policies. Nevertheless, the sustainability and impact of interventions funded by the EU were significantly impeded by the structural shortcomings and dysfunctions that continue to characterize the conduct of public action in DRC.

Despite the major fragility challenges and the suspension of the cooperation between 1992 and 2002, EU cooperation during the period evaluated achieved some valuable results, mainly in the field of governance and health, environment and transport.

Regarding the improvement of the living conditions of vulnerable populations, EU support for the rehabilitation of infrastructures and for the public healthcare system produced direct positive effects on the living conditions of their inhabitants. Given the chronically poor level of public service performance in the country, this support played an appreciable role in the reduction of poverty. The types of interventions have taken account of the fragile situation in the DRC and of the risks that are liable to impede the achievement of the results proposed. Nevertheless, the evaluation recommends that the EU define more realistic cooperation objectives, better taking into account the risks as well as the resources available for the implementation of interventions.

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Evaluation of the European Union’s Co-operation with Togo (2007-2013)

The resumption of full EU cooperation in 2007, was a strong political signal, but the risk was high for the EU given the fragile situation during those years. With an engagement strategy based on good understanding of the country’s needs and challenges, it proved on the whole adequate. Despite some shortcomings, the EU adopted an approach that was sensitive to matters relating to fragility and contributed to progress in the country notably through the active political role it played.
Regarding democratic governance, the EU effectively supported the electoral and national reconciliation processes and enabled Togo to make some progress in terms of justice - although it remains below expectations and the challenges are still considerable. The EU also contributed to the overall effort to restore and consolidate macroeconomic balance. 

The choice of intervening in the form of budget support, which was risky in view of the context, has proven successful overall.

Budget support indeed made it possible to clear debts and to reduce the  treasury tensions. Additionally, the EU initiated dialogue with the authorities on public finance management reforms and accompanied them with positive effects. Lastly, the EU contributed significantly and tangibly to the construction and rehabilitation of economic infrastructures.

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Joint evaluation of budget support in Mozambique (2005-2012)

Fundamentally, Budget Support has been found successful in Mozambique. It has made possible a major expansion in education provision, whilst supporting economic growth and macroeconomic stability and facilitating steady improvements in public financial management and, to a lesser extent, in governance. These development gains have been attained within a low income country still suffering from the legacy of 30 years of civil war, and having to deliver services across an expanse of 800,000 square kilometers, with a population density of only 29 per square kilometer.

Despite the fast growth achieved, no progress in income poverty reduction has been observed. Using econometric analysis the evaluation shows this can be largely explained by the failure of the agriculture sector policy to significantly improve agriculture productivity of small farmers. 

The main challenge for Budget Support in Mozambique is to find ways of making a greater impact on income poverty.

With the overarching goal of making a greater impact on poverty the evaluation recommends set of joint actions aimed to reduce the incidence of childhood malnutrition, to increase the access of small farmers to fertiliser and other inputs, and to create a conducive climate for business.

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Joint evaluation of budget support in Morocco (2005-2012)

Between 2005 and 2012 budget support has accompanied an important reforms process including the modernization of legislative and regulatory sector frameworks. It has contributed to the achievement of positive results in the social sectors: Moroccan population has increased the use of health service, mainly women on reproductive health and there has been a positive evolution of the main health and sanitary indicators. 

The evaluation highlighted that sector dialogue should be more focused on results of targeted public policies and donors should support the Government to strengthen its efforts on accountability to the Moroccan people.

In the education sector there has been a quantitative increase of enrolment rates. However these results are uneven. The quality of education remains an issue and, in the two sectors, Morocco is still facing important disparities: between gender, regions and between urban and rural areas.
To fully use the potential of the instrument, the evaluation recommends inter alia to strengthen the dialogue on the budget as a key tool for steering and managing public policies and to pay more attention to the results of the implementation of public policies for the whole population.

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Bruno Micale
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19 January 2015

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