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DEval and its Environment

One of the first projects that DEval worked on after the institute was established in the summer of 2012 was the “Baseline study of DEval and its environment”. This study served as a benchmark for subsequently assessing DEval’s achievement of the objectives it set itself. In addition, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development commissioned DEval to analyse the status quo of evaluation practice in German development cooperation.

Reliable statements regarding the effectiveness of development cooperation are also important with regard to accountability to taxpayers; in addition, information about what is effective in development cooperation makes it possible to plan and steer development cooperation programmes and projects more effectively. This information is obtained through evaluations. At the beginning of 2007, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development commissioned a “system review” to establish the situation with regard to the quality of evaluation practice in German development cooperation.

This review gave rise to recommendations as to how the development organisations investigated could improve their internal evaluation practice. The ministry was also advised to establish an independent evaluation institute. It put this recommendation into practice in 2012 by establishing the German Institute for Development Evaluation (DEval).

In one of its first studies, DEval investigated the status quo of evaluation practice in German development cooperation at the time the institute was established and determined how this was perceived by the environment in which DEval operated. The institute used this as a basis for its strategic positioning. Moreover, the study was intended as a baseline against which to later measure the changes effected by the institute’s work. It also analysed the extent to which the recommendations from the system review conducted in 2007/2008 had been implemented. The study was completed in 2015.

Results and Recommendations

Evaluation practice in German development cooperation has changed significantly over the last few years.

The recommendations from the system review have helped to make people more open to evaluations and to promote institutionalisation. For example, the development cooperation organisations not only prepared corresponding guidelines and standardised processes, but also freed up more human resources for evaluation.

As the evaluation reports are only rarely published in full, the knowledge gained is often only available to those involved directly in the project.

However, an important goal of evaluations is to contribute to improving the projects overall through lessons learned. In order to make the most of this potential, it is necessary to establish a culture of “transparent learning”.

The evaluations often do not make full use of the range of methods available.

Moreover, it is important to systematically involve partners in the evaluation process. Considerable differences continue to exist between the organisations in this respect. 

Objectives of the Evaluation

The study comprised two areas of enquiry. The aim of the first area of enquiry was to provide DEval with a reference point for its set goals. This would enable DEval to later identify the changes and impacts that evolve from its own work. In addition, the institute would use the results to clarify its position and incorporate them into its strategic planning.

The second area of enquiry consisted of monitoring the implementation of measures recommended by the last system review – a study that Axel Borrmann (Hamburgisches WeltWirtschaftsInstitut) and Reinhard Stockmann (CEval) carried out in 2007/2008 on evaluation in German development cooperation. Commissioned by BMZ, the consultants investigated the evaluation practices of German development cooperation organisations and recommended ways to improve them. BMZ asked DEval to monitor the implementation of these recommendations. The institute also had the aim of recording the status quo of evaluation practice.


The German Institute for Development Evaluation (DEval) began its work in the summer of 2012. One of the first projects that it implemented was the “Baseline study of DEval and its environment”, which centred on the institute and the stakeholders with which it interacts. The study thus comprised two supplementary areas of enquiry:

 The first area was a survey of DEval’s initial situation and established a baseline for the goals that the institute has set itself.

• The second area was an investigation of the evaluation system used in German development cooperation, which in turn was based on an earlier survey.


The first area of enquiry involved investigating DEval’s fields of action and the associated objectives. At the beginning of the project, two DEval areas – “strategic evaluation” and “methodology research” – were operational. Based on the articles of association, a consultative process was used to define the effects that DEval would strive to achieve in its different fields of action. The years from 2009 to 2012, in other words a period of four years directly before DEval began its work, were taken as the initial situation or comparison period for the ten long-term objectives determined.

As part of the second area of enquiry, DEval performed implementation monitoring to determine whether and to what extent the recommendations for action provided in the system review had been put into practice. The assessments took place collectively at the level of stakeholder groups (implementing organisations, political foundations and other civil society organisations). To supplement this, more in-depth investigations of evaluation practice were conducted to determine the development and status quo of various German development cooperation stakeholders. This insight contributed to an improved understanding of DEval’s environment, in which the new institute needed to define its place in order to have an impact.



Portrait von Dr. Kim Lücking
© DEval

Dr Kim Lücking

Senior Evaluator - Team Leader

Phone: +49 (0)228 336907-991

E-mail: kim.luecking@DEval.org

[Translate to Englisch:] Portrait Martin Bruder
© DEval

Dr Martin Bruder

Head of Department: Civil Society, Human Rights

Phone: +49 (0)228 336907-970

E-mail: martin.bruder@DEval.org

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