German Institute for Development Evaluation
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07.10.2019 - Is German development cooperation still doing the right thing in the partner country?

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With its concept for preparing so-called country portfolio reviews (CPRs), DEval has created a new learning tool for German development cooperation. CPRs review the strategic orientation of German development activities in a partner country and generate impetus for improving country portfolios. The tool is thus designed to help steer German development cooperation more effectively.

Prof. Dr Jörg Faust, Director of DEval, puts it like this: 'Effective development cooperation must respond to current needs in the partner country. But it must also take into account wider development-policy interests. Yet both local needs, and German and international agendas, can change. So learning processes are a crucial component of good development cooperation. Our country portfolio reviews are a tool to support these learning processes. A tool that we place in the hands of those who are responsible for the country strategies so that they can review and improve those strategies on a regular basis.'

For several years Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has been attaching increasing priority to overarching country strategies. This corresponds with to the demands of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which the United Nations adopted in 2015. These country strategies are designed to counteract the growing fragmentation of development cooperation. They also aim to take even greater account of partner country priorities. However, the systematic evidence needed to assess country strategies has so far been lacking, as the peer review of Germany published by the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 2015 noted. DEval intends to close this evidence gap with the CPR tool.

As DEval Team Leader Christoph Hartmann explains: 'Country portfolio reviews answer the question: "Is German development cooperation still doing the right thing in the partner country?" The tool identifies possible scenarios for improving the portfolio, and supports decision-making.' Are we paying sufficient attention to partner needs? How well does cooperation between the activities and other actors in the country work? As well as these factors, country portfolio reviews also examine the country strategy's alignment with the wider strategic priorities of the German Government and the BMZ. For example, they look at whether specific activities conflict with overarching objectives and, if they do, what steps might be taken. If activities were to collide with Germany's climate commitments, for instance, possible actions might be to withdraw from the energy sector in the partner country, or promote renewable energy.

Moreover, comparing the findings of portfolio reviews from several countries will also enable analysts to draw general conclusions on ways of improving German development cooperation. DEval therefore recommends that the BMZ introduce the tool at country level, and use it to steer German development cooperation as a whole.

Infographic explaining the purpose and function of CPRs: CPRs answer the question "Is German development cooperation (still) doing the right thing in the partner country?".

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