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Making Evaluations Matter: A Practical Guide for Evaluators

Centre for Development Innovation, Wageningen University & Research centre
Year Published:
Resource Type:
Technical Guidance | Tools & Manuals

Our evaluation experiences matter – to ourselves and to those we engage with during the evaluation. But to what extent do these evaluations contribute to changing the lives of the people we work with? To what extent are evaluations useful? Can the findings be used and can evaluations be influential in bringing about change? What are the consequences of the decisions we make around an evaluation? Making evaluations matter to the primary intended users of development programmes or initiatives and other key stakeholders is at the heart of this document.

Conducting an evaluation of a development intervention is often a complex process, invariably because reality is complex and unpredictable where issues emerge that need responding to. An evaluation, especially a one-off exercise, can only capture part of this reality.

This guide is therefore timely as it provides a basic foundation on how to make evaluations matter. It brings together existing concepts, evaluation methods and tools that have been found to work well in the field in a way that is straightforward and easy to follow. Stories of people’s experiences have been used to illustrate key points. In addition to this, the chapters have been written in a way that allows you to read them independently.

The guide is not a comprehensive book on how to carry out evaluations. Rather, it attempts to provide an overall framework with guiding principles for conducting an evaluation. The guide draws heavily on the experiences of the Centre for Development Innovation, Wageningen University & Research centre particularly with its work around ‘managing for impact’ in the international PPME-managing for impact course, a regional IFAD-funded capacity development program on managing for impact in East and Southern Africa, strengthening M&E systems of organisations and the many evaluations carried out by CDI.

This guide is primarily for evaluators working in the international development sector. However, if you are a commissioner of an evaluation, an evaluation manager or a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) officer, you too will find it useful.