Oberscherli, SwitzerlandOberscherli, Switzerland

Valuing Development Action through Evaluation

The development community is ever more anxious to be reassured in the relevance, effectiveness and professionalism of her actions. This due to the growing number of calls for accountability from resource providers, the media and the public. Increasingly though, this is also in response to the fact that 'development' is multi-faceted, context-bound and systemic,  with no definite features of a product that can be manufactured such as a bar of chocolate. Cooperation in development can take uncountable expressions, the diversity of concepts and strategies among the thousands of development professionals and organisations is rich and inspiring. And along the way of crafting change in society, in economies or in institutional structures, the incremental learning by experience can lead to adaptation or even re-design of the initiatives. This leaves the practitioners and development workers in a certain limbo as to the rightfulness and quality of their action. They don't have a chocolate market to gauge sales and get measurable feedback about their product. They depend on capturing and assessing the results of their action through other means. 

The emergence of a global network of development evaluation professionals does therefore not come as a surprise. We believe that in order to understand whether an initiative is on a good track, sincere introspection in our own action combined with a dialogue among experienced development actors along certain methodological standards can help to propel learning and insight. Evaluations are powerful approaches to facilitate such learning. We undertake flash-evaluations many times every day: If we want to cross a busy road, by drawing the first impression about an unknown person we meet or when valuing the behaviour of our children. Assigning value to action helps us to go about being part of a society. 

Likewise, it has become global standard to evaluate development action in order to harvest the fruits of cooperation or investments and to support management, strategic learning and innovation. 

Should you find interest in the services on this website, I look forward to your contact and a possible collaborative learning process.

                                                                        Martin Sommer
                                                                        Managing Consultant devolutions Ltd.