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Evaluations are carried out using social research methods and practices to measure what changes the programme, projects and policies have contributed to and to get a mature understanding of how it happened. Evaluation aims at increasing the knowledge about one or several aspects of the intervention for learning, informing decision-making processes, and being accountable to stakeholders, donors and citizens.

More precisely, UNODC uses the definition of evaluation developed by the United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG). The key part of the definition being that evaluation is:

"An assessment, as systematic and impartial as possible, of an activity, project, programme, strategy, policy, topic, theme, sector, operational area, or institutional performance. It analyses the level of achievement of both expected and unexpected results by examining the results chain, processes, contextual factors and causality using appropriate criteria such as relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact and sustainability."

In order to bring consistency to evaluation processes, the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD-DAC) developed the above standard set of evaluation criteria to be used in assessing all types of interventions. These include relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact, and sustainability. UNODC together with other United Nations entities, and following UNEG norms and standards, requires evaluations to consider how well its interventions have addressed the principles of human rights and gender equality and to identify and analyse the specific results at these levels. Therefore, human rights and gender aspects need to be considered as part of any UNODC evaluation. Design, partnership and cooperation are also criteria that are required in UNODC evaluations.

UNEG's definition of evaluation further states that evaluation "should provide credible, useful evidence-based information that enables the timely incorporation of its findings, recommendations and lessons into the decision-making processes of the organizations and stakeholders" [1]

Importantly, evaluation is not about fault-finding or judging an individual or a team.  Rather, evaluation is an opportunity for internal and external stakeholders to contribute their knowledge and views about a particular intervention. At the end of the process, evaluation provides feedback, recognising achievements that have been made, identifying ways for improvement and supporting evidence-based decision-making.


[1] UNEG, Norms and Standards for Evaluation, 2016

DAC Criteria

A. Relevance

The extent to which the aid activity is suited to the priorities and policies of the target group, recipient and donor.

In evaluating the relevance of a programme or a project, it is useful to consider the following questions:

1. To what extent are the objectives of the programme still valid?

2. Are the activities and outputs of the programme consistent with the overall goal and the attainment of its objectives?

3. Are the activities and outputs of the programme consistent with the intended impacts and effects?


B. Effectiveness

A measure of the extent to which an aid activity attains its objectives.

In evaluating the effectiveness of a programme or a project, it is useful to consider the following questions:

1. To what extent were the objectives achieved/are likely to be achieved?

2. What were the major factors influencing the achievement or non-achievement of the objectives?


C. Efficiency

Efficiency measures the outputs - qualitative and quantitative - in relation to the inputs. Is is an economic term which signifies that the aid uses the least costly resources possible in order to achieve the desired results. This generally requires comparing alternative approaches to achieving the same outputs, to see whether the most efficient process has been adopted.

When evaluating the efficiency of a programme or a project, it is useful to conider the following questions:

1. Were activities cost-efficient?

2. Were objectives achieved on time?

3. Was the programme or project implemented in the most efficient way compared to alternatives?


D. Impact

The positive and negative changes produced by a development intervention, directly or indirectly, intended or unintended. This involves the main impacts and effects resulting from the activity on the local social, economic, environmental and other development indicators. The examination should be concerned with both intended and unintended results and must also include the positive and negative impact of external factors, such as changes in terms of trade and financial conditions.

When evaluating the impact of a programme or a project, it is useful to consider the following questions:

1. What has happened as a result of the programme or project?

2. What real difference has the activity made to the beneficiaries?

3. How many people have been affected?


E. Sustainability

Sustainability is concerned with measuring whether the benefits of an activity are likely to continue after donor funding has been withdrawn. Projects need to be environmentally as well as financially sustainable.

When evaluating the sustainability of a programme or project, it is useful to consider the following questions:

1. To what extent did the benefits of a programme or project continue after donor funding ceased?

2. What were the major factors which influenced the achievement or non-achievement of sustainability of the programme or project?