Evaluation Capacity Development (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 996)

The report identifies key lessons for ECD approaches



Is there existing evidence of: (A) Approaches that are more successful for developing (or building) capacity for evaluation supply in developing countries? (B) What approaches are effective at building evaluation demand and the use of evaluation evidence? (C) How endogenous public, civil society, academic, private sector, and other suppliers/commissioners can be strengthened? (D) What financial support mechanisms (e.g. challenge funds, project or programme support, etc.) are best suited for building capacity without undermining local ownership?

Key findings

While donors’ efforts to support evaluation capacities of developing countries have increased over the last 20 years, this rapid review of the literature finds a limited evidence base on evaluation capacity development (ECD) approaches and their effectiveness. There are more reports of innovative and good practices than rigorous evidence on what has worked.

Nevertheless, the literature identifies key lessons for ECD approaches, including:

  • The fundamental principles of being demand-driven; context-specific; focused on strengthening incentives; working with evaluation systems; addressing demand as well as supply; and integrating human rights and gender equality concerns.
  • A number of recommendations for the ECD process and activities such as, inter alia, assessing existing M&E; integrating ECD as part of a results-based M&E system and identifying clear ECD results; working with champions; adopting a sustained, adaptive roadmap approach; providing follow-up to training interventions; working with stakeholders beyond government; tackling any unintended negative impact of donor evaluation operations; and an emergent focus on building demand and use of evaluation evidence.

The report also summarises findings on strengthening state- and non-state evaluation suppliers and commissioners and the effectiveness of ECD financial support mechanisms, including innovative mechanisms such as challenge funds and South-South partnership support.


Carter, B. Evaluation Capacity Development (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 996). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2013) 13 pp.

Evaluation Capacity Development (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 996)

Published 1 January 2013