Evaluation Handbook

I. B. Uses of Evaluation


This section describes evaluation as a tool for learning, accountability, participation, management and innovation.

1. Evaluation as a Tool for Learning

Evaluation drives organizational learning. Evaluation allows learning about the factors that led to either success or failure of a particular project, the results achieved and the wider applicability of those lessons. With a view to informing ongoing implementation, as well as future policy-making and new projects and programmes, evaluation aims at deriving lessons.

A lesson learned is a generalization derived from evaluation experiences with programmes, projects or policies that is applicable to programmes, projects or policies of similar scope and design . It summarizes knowledge at a point in time, while learning is an ongoing process and has the potential to improve future actions. Frequently, lessons learned highlight strengths or weaknesses in preparation, design and implementation that affect performance, outcome, and impact.

Evaluation itself also creates an opportunity to share insight and knowledge among evaluation stakeholders. Evaluation should therefore be seen as a learning tool that expands stakeholders' knowledge base and enhances their skills.

2. Evaluation as a Tool for Accountability

Accountability refers to the obligation of a manager to demonstrate that work has been conducted in compliance with the established plans, budgets, rules and standards and to report fairly and accurately on performance results. It includes responsibility for the justification of expenditures, decisions or results of the discharge of authority and official duties, including duties delegated to a subordinate unit or individual [5].

3. Evaluation as a Participatory Tool

The approach to evaluation adopted by UNODC is the wider participation and consultation of internal and external stakeholders during the planning, design, conduct of and follow-up on evaluations, while maintaining strict impartiality in framing conclusions and recommendations.

In order to be meaningful and relevant, evaluation processes are inclusive of all stakeholders during specific stages of the evaluation process. Stakeholders have the possibility to express their views to make sure that evaluations respond to their needs.

All evaluation are, regardless of the type of evaluation, participatory.

In UNODC, participation is formalized through creating Core Learning Partners (CLP). Please see Chapter I, Section E, paragraph 4 for further information on the CLP.

4. Evaluation as a Tool for Management

Evaluation is not fault-finding, nor does it aim at attributing praise or blame to particular individuals or institutions. Where the expected results have not been achieved, evaluation helps staff and stakeholders to understand the reasons and offers advice on how to address them. Evaluation must therefore be understood as a service to the project or programme and to UNODC management as a whole.

Evaluation serves as an input to provide decision-makers with knowledge and evidence about performance and good practices [6]. Based on credible, evidence-based information, evaluation can be a powerful tool that can make programmes and projects, and therefore the Organization, more effective and efficient. The vision is that evaluation enables UNODC to meet its mandate and helps attracting funding.

Evaluation supports managerial decisions, present and future planning and strategies and policies by providing targeted recommendations to Project Managers, and UNODC management at all levels, at Headquarters and in the field, as well as to Member States and donors. The CLP and other evaluation stakeholders should participate actively in the entire evaluation process to ensure recommendations are practical, relevant and realistic.

5. Evaluation as a Tool for Supporting Innovation

Evaluation offers services to assess and capture innovative practices, and to generate innovative thinking. Indeed, evaluation findings are used to support innovative approaches, processes and practices. Intertwining innovation with evaluation:

-    Ensures that innovative approaches, processes and practices beyond the project or programme logical framework are captured.
- Contributes to the success of an innovative approach, process or practice by collecting evidence-based information on the effectiveness of the innovative practice. It fosters adoption, reduces risks and builds trust for this innovative approach, process or practice.


[5] OIOS, op.cit..

[6] United Nations Evaluation Group, Norms for Evaluation in the UN System (2005).


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Table of Contents
Chapter I: Defining Core Concepts
Chapter I Tools:
Chapter II: Planning an Evaluation at the Design Stage
Chapter III: Managing an Independent Project Evaluation
Chapter IV: Undertaking an In-depth Evaluation
Chapter V: Undertaking a Participatory Self-Evaluation
Chapter VI: Using the Evaluation
Annex I: Evaluation Glossary
Annex II: UNEG Norms
Annex III: UNEG Standards
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Chapter I: Defining Core Concepts