Development evaluation

Evaluations are independent and impartial assessments on Finland’s development policy and cooperation. They produce information on the achievement of development policy goals and help the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) to understand what works and why. On this basis, the evaluations produce knowledge and recommendations to the management that are used to further develop the quality of development policy and cooperation.

Who evaluates and what is evaluated?

The Development Evaluation Unit of the MFA is responsible for commissioning large-scale evaluations of strategic relevance, which may cover policy priorities, themes or country programmes. Reporting directly to the Under-Secretary of State for Development Policy, Evaluation Unit is independent of the units and departments in charge of implementing development cooperation and making policy decisions.

Individual MFA units, departments and Finnish missions abroad commission evaluations of their own development cooperation projects and programmes.

The evaluations are assigned to independent experts.

Evaluations assess development policies and cooperation along with relevance, coherence, effectiveness, impact, efficiency and sustainability. Evaluations serve learning and decision-making and are essential part of accountability, openness and transparency.

 Ethiopian children in school.
Ethiopian children in school. Photo: Milma Kettunen

Guiding documents

The evaluation practices of the MFA are based on the principles agreed internationally within the OECD and the EU. The implementation of development evaluation is steered by the MFA evaluation guidelines.

Development evaluation norm 2015 (PDF, 19 KB)

The Evaluation Manual introduces the concepts of development evaluation and helps to understand why and how evaluations are carried out. It also gives guidance to support the evaluation process.

Evaluation Manual

The Development Evaluation Basic Course will give you basic knowledge and understanding on evaluations in the context of development cooperation projects and programmes. It guides on the concepts and quality standards, planning and management as well as use of evaluations:

The evaluations are guided by the documents drafted by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD:

Planning evaluations well ensures that evaluation results will be available timely for decision-making and planning. Each year, Development Evaluation Unit draws up an overall evaluation plan for the MFA.

Evaluation Plan for 2023–2025 (PDF, 553 KB)

How are evaluation results used?

The results of all evaluations are thoroughly examined within the MFA or in the groups making decisions in projects or programmes in order to determine how the recommendations of evaluation will be implemented.

Evaluation reports are public. Large-scale evaluations of strategic relevance are presented by the evaluation experts themselves in a public event as well as in a webinar.

Previous evaluation reports:

Evaluation networks and partnerships

The Development Evaluation Unit participates actively in international and domestic networks that promote the quality and use of evaluations. 

Our international partners include:

In Finland, we are cooperating with the Finnish Evaluation Society (SAYFES)(Link to another website.), the Finnish Innovation Fund (SITRA)(Link to another website.), Prime Minister’s Office(Link to another website.), Finnfund(Link to another website.) and Finnish Development NGOs (Fingo)(Link to another website.).

Evaluation capacity development in partner countries is also an important part of our activities. Currently we are working with the following actors:

Support for Evaluation Capacity Development

The Development Evaluation Unit grants annually discretionary government transfers in accordance with the Act on Discretionary Government Transfers Valtionavustuslaki 688/2001(Link to another website.), unofficial translation in English(Link to another website.)).

The discretionary government transfers are meant to support international initiatives aiming to enhance the role of evaluation in decision-making and developing evaluation capacity of evaluation functions and evaluators in the global south as well as organizations and networks that support related activities.

There are no specific deadlines for applications, and transfers may be granted throughout the year within the available appropriations.

Applications are assessed and funding is granted on the basis of how significant the project’s impact is estimated to be and how suitable the activity in question is seen to be for Finland’s development policy goals.

Priority is given to project support.

For more information on the discretionary government transfers, the application procedure and the general conditions for the use of transfers, please contact the Unit for Development Evaluation,

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