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5.5. Evaluation

Evaluation is about systematically collecting, analysing and using information concerning the work or the project and the change it has contributed to.

Learning-oriented evaluation is based on the needs of the project’s implementers. It highlights the collective reflection of successes and failures, and the continuous improvement of working ways rather than trying to prove the success and short-term results. Evaluation may also have other motives. Also the donor, such as the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, requires that projects are evaluated. Thus the evaluation has also an accountability perspective.

Evaluation can be carried out in different ways. The one best evaluation method does not exist. There are many different approaches and data collection methods utilised in the evaluation. When planning an evaluation, one must first consider, why and to whom evaluation will be made. The purpose of evaluation process must be clear to those using it because it also steers the process in the direction that is beneficial to them. The purpose of evaluation defines whether the evaluation will be carried out internally or externally. An external evaluation examines the operation objectively, whereas an internal evaluation is closer to day-to-day operations of the organisation. Evaluation does not need to be automatically an expensive piece of work performed by an external consultant. It can also be carried out by the organisation itself or it can be a light assessment carried out, for instance, as a peer review by another CSO working in the same area.

The evaluation of a project is usually carried out periodically (mid-term, final or post- evaluation). It should be considered already in the planning stage of the project in order to reserve enough time and money for it. In addition to the evaluation, funds can also be allocated, for instance, to strengthen the monitoring and evaluation capacity of the Southern partner.

Evaluation report template

Terms of Reference template

Human rights based evaluation

The human rights based approach brings new dimensions to project evaluation. As human rights based projects aim to change, for instance, the behaviour or procedures of authorities, it becomes more important to evaluate how the change has influenced the lives of the right-holders and how their human rights situation has improved. Results are measured by following the positive changes in the lives of people: What kind of changes in the lives of the people did the project/ programme achieve? Which rights are now fulfilled better? Which rights are no longer violated?

The changes that are being aimed at and measured, are directly linked to the topic worked with. Some of the changes may be directly measured in the lives of people, while others are related to the duty-bearers and their behaviours. These aspects are normally distinguished in human rights based evaluation. Here, either the commitment of duty-bearers to human rights is emphasised or the fulfilment of human rights of the right-holders is focused on. It might be necessary to follow both of these aspects.

Another way to evaluate the changes achieved by a human rights based project can be defined with the following areas of change:

  • Changes in the methods and practices of the duty-bearers
  • Changes in the participation of target groups: do the right-holders have an opportunity to demand their rights?
  • Changes in the equal treatment and the removal of discrimination
  • Changes in the readiness of civil society organisations to support human rights
  • Changes in the legislation and the realisation of rights: which rights have been improved and how?